/ 19 May 2009

Zanu-PF rejects call for SADC to rescue Zim unity deal

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party on Tuesday rejected Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s call for a range of serious disputes between their respective parties to be judged by governments in the region.

Zimbabwe’s three-month-old coalition government has made no progress on issues of human rights reforms and governance.

Tsvangirai, head of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), on Sunday announced that the party was calling on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate between it and Zanu-PF.

MDC officials accuse Mugabe and Zanu-PF of stonewalling on issues such as the continued arrests of pro-democracy activists, members of Parliament, lawyers and journalists, the ongoing invasions of white-owned farms and Mugabe’s unilateral appointments of his cronies as head of the central bank and as attorney general.

But on Tuesday, Transport Minister Nicholas Goche, who is one of Zanu-PF’s main negotiators, was quoted in the pro-Mugabe Herald daily as dismissing the arbitration calls as ”premature”.

He said the three parties to the power-sharing deal would first have to declare a deadlock. That they had not yet done so, ”means some progress has been made during their meetings”.

MDC spokesperson James Maridadi told the German Press Agency dpa on Tuesday that the party was in the process of notifying SADC.

Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesperson for the third party to the deal, a smaller MDC faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, also said resolution of the outstanding issues was ”taking too long”.

”The time is right for the matter to be referred to the guarantors of the agreement [SADC],” he said.

The 15-nation SADC bloc convened the negotiations last year that led Mugabe to agree to share power with his longtime rival, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

The three leaders have held eight meetings in the past three weeks to try to iron out their issues.

The new government’s attempts to revive the country’s stricken economy and infrastructure have been stalled by the disputes.

Western donors have refused to release significant amounts of development aid until the new government shows evidence of true reform. Zimbabwe is looking for about $8,5 billion.

On Monday the World Bank agreed to resume aid to Zimbabwe for the first time since 2000 with a tentative $22-million. — Sapa-dpa