Zimbabwe: Mugabe and Tsvangirai issued an ultimatum

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Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has given Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai an ultimatum to resolve issues fuelling infighting within the government.

The move by the main wing of the divided MDC signals growing frustration within the shaky unity government, which is struggling to find cohesion and deal with the country’s economic and social problems.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara met again on Tuesday, for the sixth time in as many weeks, to try to sort out a series of issues which have been fanning divisions and wrangling within the government.

The divisive issues include appointment of senior government officials, sharing of positions of governors, permanent secretaries and diplomats and mandates of ministries.

There is also the issue of land invasions, arrests and detention of political activists, the arraignment and also swearing-in of Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett, the appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and attorney-general Johannes Tomana and violations of the political agreement that led to the formation of the new government.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, who is also Finance Minister, said Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara must resolve outstanding issues by Monday if the inclusive government was to continue functioning without fresh problems.

He said if they failed to bring the contested issues to closure and finality, his party’s national council would meet on May 17 to take a decision on the way forward.

“The delay in finding a lasting solution to outstanding issues is of great concern to the MDC. In our view these issues should have been concluded soon after the formation of the inclusive government in February,” Biti said.

He said the party was worried that some elements in government, Zanu PF, the security forces and public media “continued to disregard some clear provisions laid out in the Global Political Agreement”.

“There are a number of toxic and poisonous attitudes that some of these institutions are showing. Their attitude is as if they are in a war situation,” Biti added.

While some senior MDC officials, especially members of the party’s parliamentary caucus, were beginning to demand a pull-out from the government, Biti said this was not an option.

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