Friday, November 28, 2008

Tsvangirai calls on Mbeki to quit as Zim facilitator

COMMENT - " He does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too small," " - Oh really Morgan, President Thabo Mbeki is 'uninformed'? What a pathetic bunch of cowards the MDC are. They have no support from the people of Zimbabwe, other than that their election might get sanctions lifted. Do they appeal to the people of Zimbabwe? No. Do they appeal to forces abroad to get them into power? Yes. That is who they are.

Tsvangirai calls on Mbeki to quit as Zim facilitator
Written by George Chellah and Kingsley Kaswende in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday, November 28, 2008 10:16:09 AM

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called on former South African President Thabo Mbeki to quit as facilitator of the Zimbabwe inter-party talks because he does not understand what needs to be done.

This call comes when Botswana's foreign minister Dr Phandu Skelemani has called on the region to close their borders with Zimbabwe in order to "bring President Robert Mugabe down."

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has also called for mass action by employees across the country. Tsvangirai said Mbeki was the major obstacle to the solution in Zimbabwe.

"Sadly, the negotiations have also been hampered by the attitude and position of the facilitator, Mr Thabo Mbeki. He does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too small," Tsvangirai noted in a statement, which also detailed the growing humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

"He is not serving to bring the parties together because he does not understand what needs to be done. In addition, his partisan support of ZANU-PF, to the detriment of genuine dialogue, has made it impossible for the MDC to continue negotiating under his facilitation."

The statement also signalled another deadlock of the current round of talks, in which the parties were discussing the 19th constitutional changes, which would operationalise the proposed inclusive government.

Tsvangirai said he had since written to SADC chair, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe stating reasons why Mbeki should recuse himself.

"In this regard, we have written to the chairman of SADC, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, detailing the irretrievable state of our relationship with Mr Mbeki and asking that he recuse himself."

Tsvangirai was apparently angered by a letter which Mbeki wrote to him on November 22, criticising him for "respecting the West and not the region" regarding the solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.

"It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that others further away, in western Europe and North America, are of greater importance," Mbeki wrote in a 10-page letter to Tsvangirai.

At the extraordinary SADC meeting in South Africa, SADC leaders compelled ZANU-PF and the MDC to seek ways of jointly running the much-contested home affairs ministry, a position rejected by the MDC.
Mbeki, whom the MDC has long accused of bias, said the MDC did not respect decisions made by African leaders.

"Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the countries of western Europe and North America, and therefore secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbours," Mbeki went on.

"Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe."

On Tuesday, Botswana called for Zimbabwe's neighbours to close borders with the country in order to corner its leader.

"Leaders should tell him to his face 'look, now you are on your own, we are switching off, we are closing your borders.' ...If no petrol went into Zimbabwe for a week, Mugabe would be gone," Skelemani said when he featured on the BBC's Hardtalk programme.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union General Council has also called for mass action because of the unavailability of cash.

"The once deferred action for cash availability be held on 3 December 2008. Zimbabweans will be expected to go to their banks on 3 December 2008 to demand their money. A procession will be made to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where the ZCTU leadership will deliver a petition to the Governor," the union noted in a statement yesterday.

On the humanitarian situation, Tsvangirai stated that the crisis that is engulfing all Zimbabweans represented the greatest threat ever in that country.

"While millions face starvation in the coming months, the death toll from cholera is now sitting at over fifty people per day and will increase dramatically now that the rainy season has begun in earnest. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, former United States President, Jimmy Carter, and Dr Graca Machel for their commitment to understanding the Zimbabwean crisis and for trying to identify solutions to halt the humanitarian catastrophe that faces the country," Tsvangirai stated.

"It was no surprise to anyone that Mr Robert Mugabe denied them access to the country, to see firsthand the appalling conditions that Zimbabweans are living under as a result of his political and economic mismanagement. Mr Mugabe would prefer that the suffering that he and ZANU-PF have caused, and continue to cause, remains in the dark."

Tsvangirai stated that in the absence of any progress in the talks, the MDC now committed itself to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

"The people of the country have mandated us to end their suffering, to work towards a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning. In the absence of a legitimate government in Zimbabwe, in the absence of a government of Zimbabwe that puts the will and welfare of the people first, the MDC must take on this leadership responsibility," Tsvangirai stated.

"The people of Zimbabwe are determined to endure the suffering so long as there is no meaningful change in the way that they are governed. That is the message that they have given to the MDC and it is the message that the MDC gives to the rest of the world.

"This does not mean that we are not turning our back on the Global Political Agreement, nor are we withdrawing from the talks. Rather, we are saying that until we see real indications that the negotiations will end the suffering of all Zimbabweans we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from working towards the goal of alleviating the peoples' suffering."

He accused ZANU-PF of refusing to acknowledge both the will of the people and the hardships they are causing the people.

"To suggest the current problems facing our country can be solved by the MDC becoming a powerless partner in a ZANU-PF government, fails to acknowledge the truth about the causes of the crisis and the fact that such a development would result in the perpetuation of the peoples' suffering," Tsvangirai stated.

"The Mugabe team negotiates as though their priority is to cover up the problem rather than solve it. Establishing a unity government dedicated to covering up the problem would be easy; establishing a unity government that can help to solve the problem is very hard."

The World Health Organisation says over 8,000 people have been infected by cholera.
With erratic water supplies in most cities, coupled with the lack of treatment chemicals, the waterborne cholera has spread easily.

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