Zimbabwe: An end to unity gov’t after Mutambara’s weekend statement?

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A weekend walk out by Zanu PF ministers at a cabinet retreat after deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara said last year’s polls were “fraudulent, a nullity and a farce “could signal a collapse of the government.

The retreat, held in Nyanga resort area east of Harare, was meant to assess the government’s first 100-day targets but Mutambara’s comment
angered Zanu PF ministers resulting in the meeting being aborted.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa led the walk out that included Webster Shamu (Media, Information and Publicity), deputy ministers Andrew Langa (Public Service), Aguy Georgias (Public Works), Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce), Douglas Mombeshora (Health and Child Welfare) and Walter Chidakwa (State Enterprises and Parastatals).

“Reckless”, is how Chinamasa described Mutambara’s comments. He told reporters there that were “We walked out of the meeting in protest to register our anger against reckless statement by one of the principals of the Global Political Agreement,” Chinamasa is quoted saying.

“This is a government faction and there was no reason to undermine the
other partner in the government. Besides this is not the first time he has done it and we felt that this was unacceptable.” The Zanu PF ministers quickly checked out of their rooms at the conference venue and left for Harare.

Chinamasa said Mutambara’s remarks were basically undermining the
legitimacy of the inclusive Government and the other partners in it. “This is also not the first time he has attacked the party and its leadership. He did so in Victoria Falls (during the launch of the first ministerial retreat in Victoria Falls early this year), at the investment conference in Harare and at other functions.

“The Cabinet retreat is a Government function and it was wrong for him
to undermine a partner in the Government… We decided to walk out to register our anger at his utterances. The walkout was also to underscore that Zanu-PF ministers will not take that in future”

In order to allay growing fears about a possible collapse of government, Chinanamasa told Reuters News Agency that “This is a very specific reaction to a specific problem,” indicating that coalition government was not in danger. He also said that Matumbara had since apologised.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai later told journalists that he “appreciated” the Zanu-PF ministers’ explanation, adding that the action they took was justified.

Although Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s adminstration has managed to stem Zimbabwe’s rapid economic decline, analysts say it has missed most of its short-term targets due to financial problems, a lack of focus and haggling over policy reforms.

“The future lies in Zimbabwe getting huge capital and investment injections, in getting some massive foreign aid,” political scientist Eldred Masunungure of the University of Zimbabwe said. “But it is also very clear now that we are not going to be getting that from the traditional Western donors until issues of governance and human rights have been addressed,” he said. This gives the unity government no other choice but to stay together.

Tsvangirai went the US and Europe in June but was told the West would only come to Zimbabwe’s aid when it created a democracy and improved
human rights after decades of what critics say was Mugabe’s repressive
one-party rule.

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