Tsvangirai calls off boycott

Friday 06 November 2009 11.03
Morgan Tsvangirai - Ends govt boycott
Morgan Tsvangirai - Ends govt boycott

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called off a boycott of power-sharing ties with President Robert Mugabe.

'We have suspended our disengagement in the government,' Mr Tsvangirai said after talks at an emergency regional summit.

Mr Tsvangirai said the summit, attended by several southern African leaders, had resolved that the three main political parties will meet within the next 15 days to decide how outstanding issues stalling the unity pact be settled.

'Within 30 days all issues must be cleared,' he said.

Mr Tsvangirai cut ties with what he termed Mr Mugabe's 'dishonest and unreliable' camp on 16 October, saying the boycott would end when unsettled matters were ironed out, including a crackdown on his supporters and disputes over posts.

The move prompted the unity government's biggest threat since the long-time rivals joined power in February in the wake of deadly violence that erupted after disputed elections last year.

Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, made no comment to reporters after the talks but deputy premier Arthur Mutambara said he was 'very satisfied'.

The summit's final communiqué urged the Zimbabwe parties to hold talks 'with immediate effect within 15 days (and) not beyond 30 days' that would include all outstanding issues related to the implementation of the unity pact.

'The parties should not allow the situation to deteriorate any further,' it said.

Regional powerhouse South Africa, which brokered Zimbabwe's pact last September on a mandate from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), would remain facilitator and report back after evaluating progress.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza who chaired the emergency summit told a post-summit briefing that the regional bloc will work on the basis of South Africa's evaluation.

'I don't think that in 30 days things will not change,' he told a post-summit briefing.

The pact helped arrest Zimbabwe's economic free-fall and created an opening to repair its international ties, amid Western calls for greater signs of reform from 85-year-old Robert Mugabe.

But the agreement has been plagued by disputes over the appointment of provincial governors and Mr Mugabe's unilateral re-appointment of central bank chief Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) also claims its lawmakers have been targeted for government persecution.

His decision to suspend ties was sparked by the renewed detention of MDC treasurer Roy Bennett on terrorism charges, with Zimbabwe's premier embarking on a regional tour to appeal for intervention in the deadlock.

Following the snub, Mr Tsvangirai and his ministers boycotted three consecutive cabinet meetings with their partners from Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF who hold 15 ministries to the MDC's 13. Mr Mutambara's smaller MDC faction has three.

Yesterday's summit was organised by SADC's security and defence troika, which currently comprises Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia and is chaired by Mozambican leader Guebuza.

Current SADC chair the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, led by President Jacob Zuma, also attended the talks.

Mr Tsvangirai and long-time rival Robert Mugabe set up the power-sharing arrangement nearly a year after disputed polls which saw Mr Mugabe handed the presidency after a one-man presidential run-off.