Friday, 22 August 2008


THE country’s main political parties have been wrong-footed by President Robert Mugabe’s decision to convene parliament next Tuesday, with policy differences emerging in the MDC while hardliners in Zanu PF are uncertain of their future in government.

Sadc leaders approved the convening of parliament during their summit at the weekend in Johannesburg prompting President Mugabe to gazette the swearing in of MPs on Monday and the opening of the House on Tuesday. The move has caused problems in Zanu PF and both factions of the MDC.
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has since issued contradictory statements on the assembling of parliament with the party leader giving it a thumbs-up, while secretary-general Tendai Biti said it would "decapitate the dialogue" process and show that Zanu PF was unwilling to continue with the Sadc-initiated talks.
"Any decision to convene parliament will be a clear repudiation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) and an indication beyond reasonable doubt of Zanu PF’s unwillingness to continue to be part of the talks. In short, convening parliament decapitates the dialogue," Biti said in a statement on Wednesday.
His stance contradicted that of Tsvangirai who initially said they had no problem with the convening of parliament as this was "an expression of the will of the people".
Yesterday, however Tsvangirai made a U-turn in Nairobi, Kenya, saying the convening of parliament would violate the MoU, an issue that would have to be dealt with by the mediator, South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki.
In the other faction of the MDC there are fears among the MPs that Mutambara might have struck a deal with Zanu PF that would see the robotics professor landing the deputy premiership if the talks succeed.
But Mutambara and his chief negotiator Welshman Ncube have denied any such deal, saying they would only sign a tripartite deal involving Tsvangirai.
Yesterday, Edwin Mushoriwa, the Mutambara faction spokesperson, also denied they had done a deal with Zanu PF.
"We are a distinct political party," Mushoriwa said. "It is untrue that there was an informal agreement with Zanu PF."
Sources in Zanu PF said hardliners and ministers in the party who lost in the March 29 elections were opposed to the convening of parliament, as they feared losing their ministerial positions if Mugabe appoints a new cabinet.
The hardliners, the sources said, also want a permanent stay of the talks and hoped that Mugabe would appoint them non-constituency senators so they remain in cabinet.
"The hardliners do not want a power-sharing government with MDC, one of the sources said. "They are afraid that they would lose out."
The sources said apart from the hardliners, the army, police and intelligence chiefs who meet under the Joint Operations Command were also opposed to the talks, especially after it emerged that if a deal is sealed Tsvangirai would attend their meetings as prime minister.
By Constantine Chimakure