Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Motlanthe advises Tsvangirai against pulling out of talks

Motlanthe advises Tsvangirai against pulling out of talks
Written by George Chellah and Kingsley Kaswende in Harare
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 7:00:46 PM

SOUTH African President Kgalema Motlanthe has advised MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai against pulling out of the power-sharing deal. And Motlanthe instructed Tsvangirai to return home saying that as SADC chairman, he was only willing to meet him on Zimbabwean soil and nowhere else.

SADC sources on Saturday revealed to The Post that President Motlanthe gave his condition to Tsvangirai during their recent meeting in South Africa.

"When he met Mr Tsvangirai in South Africa he advised him that the meeting he was calling for with President Mugabe can only take place on Zimbabwean soil and not anywhere else," the source said. "He went further and told him openly that he [President Motlanthe] will not meet him anywhere else other than on the Zimbabweans soil. Therefore, he must return home.

"President Motlanthe also advised Mr Tsvangirai against pulling out of the deal. He advised him that 'when you are facing problems within your team, you don't suspend or leave the match you substitute the players. So go back home."

The source also said yesterday's meeting among the Zimbabwean leaders with President Motlanthe would be decisive.

"President Mugabe and President Motlanthe have been communicating recently over the stalled power-sharing deal. And basically there was an agreement to give Mr Tsvangirai a last chance... by meeting him and hearing what his concerns are. Monday will actually be very decisive. If nothing positive comes out of the Monday meeting then President Mugabe will proceed to form government," the source said.

"Whether ZANU-PF will go it alone or with whoever is willing to join in from the two MDC formations, a new government will be established. And then if Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC want to join in at a later stage, they will do so when the new government is already in place.

"In fact, our contacts from the Zimbabwean government are indicating that President Mugabe seems resolute to establish a new government with or without Mr Tsvangirai. We are told he has already collected the names and CVs of all ruling ZANU-PF Parliamentarians both in the Senate and House of Assembly in readiness for the establishment of the government."

Tsvangirai returned home on Saturday afternoon after a three-month long self imposed exile, most of which he spent in Botswana.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) reconvened another meeting with the Zimbabwean rivals to try and end a four month-long stalemate on forming an inclusive government.

President Motlanthe will be joined by SADC mediator Thabo Mbeki and his Mozambican counterpart Armando Emilio Guebuza.

Tsvangirai told reporters in Harare that he was glad to be back home and hoped the meeting would find a lasting solution to the crisis.

The MDC leader, who is expected to be appointed prime minister in a unity government, said he remained committed to forming a new inclusive government but lacked a 'willing partner'.

He has declared that he would not be part of the unity government until all his demands are met.

Tsvangirai demands the unconditional release of political detainees and reversal of recent government appointments unilaterally made by Robert Mugabe, among other conditions.

ZANU PF and the two MDC's negotiators are also expected to meet yesterday to discuss 'outstanding' issues.

Parliament is expected to resume sitting today and a key matter on the agenda is the draft legislation that would enable the formation of the new government.

Meanwhile the MDC's National Executive is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the power sharing deal with Mugabe.

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