Friday, September 05, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) MDC appeals for further talks

MDC appeals for further talks
Our reporter
Fri, 05 Sep 2008 09:46:00 +0000

MDC Secretary General, Tendai Biti (left) and Morgan Tsvangirai, the President. Photo: AFP

THE Movement for Democratic Change party has appealed to the regional Southern African Development Community for talks to be unlocked and called on President Robert Mugabe to reconsider his ultimatum to appoint cabinet before the talks are concluded, despite their leader indicating that talks will not be resumed anytime soon.

The spokesman for the MDC-T party, Nelson Chamisa made the call yesterday after President Mugabe announced that he would go on and appoint cabinet without the MDC-T arguing that “the country cannot be frozen forever”. The MDC-T President, Morgant Tsvangirai said on Wednesday that power-sharing negotiations “have broken down and are unlikely to resume soon”.

“It is very clear that the deadlock in the current dialogue has to be unlocked,” Chamisa told a South African radio station

“And to be unlocked we need the help of Sadc and the helping hand of the mediator, (South African) President Thabo Mbeki,” he said.

“It is better to be talking than fighting. Our country is so important, so precious. We need to resolve all our differences through dialogue for prosperity and stability in the country,” he added.

Chamisa’s call comes on the heels of an ultimatum issued by President Mugabe on Wednesday as he left for the funeral of the late Zambian President, Levy Mwanawasa.

“If after tomorrow (Thursday), Tsvangirai does not want to sign, we will certainly put together a cabinet. We feel frozen at the moment,” President Mugabe reporters at the airport.

Chamisa’s call to the South African President’s mediation efforts in direct contrast to the MDC-T President’s earlier statement regarding the efforts of President Mbeki. Morgan Tsvangirai fired fresh criticism on Mbeki saying he crafted the “controversial document” that he was expected to append his signature to.

Tsvangirai told South Africa’s Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday, the MDC-T leader said, “The mediator says there is sufficient grounds for us to sign. He is not the one who is going to sign. It's me.”

He also indicated that there was no likelihood for any further talks between his party and that of President Mugabe citing irreconcilable differences over power-sharing arrangements.

The MDC-T has in the past issued conflicting statements. Last month before the convening of Parliament, the MDC-T Secretary General criticized President Mugabe for swearing in legislators and opening Parliament arguing that it was tantamount to the MDC-T party accepting the legitimacy of President Mugabe. The party nevertheless attended the ceremony. Their leader, Tsvangirai had argued that there was no problem with the convening of Parliament as the talks were predicated on power-sharing and not on the exact structure of the House of Assembly.

It is not clear whether the call by Chamisa to resume the talks is shared by their leader, Tsvangirai who has expressed his dissatisfaction over President Mbeki’s impartiality in the process.


President Mbeki is, however, expected to continue with mediation efforts early next week.

Reports had earlier indicated that he would be visiting Zimbabwe soon after the funeral of President Mwanawasa on Thursday, but this was denied by the office of the president in South Africa.

“The presidency wishes to place it on record that President Mbeki is not travelling to Harare today (Thursday)," Mbeki's office said in a statement.

They also attacked the media over the report, saying "these 'informed sources' [quoted by reporters] continually get it wrong, including on matters as basic as the President's itinerary."

Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has indicated that President Mbeki will be in the country next week in a final attempt to get Tsvangirai to append his signature on the final document paving the way for power-sharing between the two factions of the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF party.

“He (President Mbeki) has not been able to make it today and I am made to understand the trip has been postponed to next week,” Chinamasa said yesterday.

It is not clear whether President Mbeki will be able to salvage the talks. The ruling Zanu PF party has clearly indicated that it will not go back on the proposals currently tabled. Chinamasa last week said as far as Zanu PF was concerned “there was a deal on the table” and it was up to the MDC-T to accept it.

“There is a deal all three parties agreed to,” he said. “Two parties agreed to sign the deal but the third one decided not put his signature” referring to Tsvangirai who walked out of the all-party talks three weeks ago.

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