Friday, January 30, 2009

Top MDC official says Tsvangirai will go into government 'next week'

KEY DECISION: Tsvangirai poised to join President Robert Mugabe in a power sharing government as Prime Minister

Posted to the web: 28/01/2009 03:34:11
A TOP official from Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said he expects the party’s national council to give the green light to Morgan Tsvangirai to join President Robert Mugabe in a unity government when it meets on Friday.

After a day of confusion on Tuesday which highlighted divisions within the MDC in the wake of a time table set by regional leaders for the formation of a power sharing government, the MDC’s Policy Coordinator General Eddie Cross said concessions given by Mugabe at a SADC summit in Pretoria went “a long way to meeting our requests”.

Answering a question from a Zimbabwean on online discussion group, Cross said: “I have had a look at the agreement and think it goes a long way to meeting our requests. I think MDC will accept this deal and that MT (Morgan Tsvangirai) will go into government next week.”

Confusion reigned on Tuesday when the MDC issued a statement which appeared to reject a SADC communiqué released at the end of an extraordinary summit of the regional grouping, despite Tsvangirai’s approval of the document after marathon meetings.

In briefings to journalists, MDC officials told of a major rift between secretary general Tendai Biti and Tsvangirai. Biti, the officials said, is rabidly opposed to any power sharing with Mugabe while Tsvangirai sees strategic long term benefits in going into government.

The infighting in the MDC has created two groups, one loyal to Biti and the other to Tsvangirai. Ultimately, Tsvangirai’s popular appeal is expected to carry the day at Friday’s national council meeting, and a decision to join government should be made shortly after, MDC strategists say.

Mugabe was pushed by SADC leaders into making a series of concessions, including the reversal of all executive appointments he has made since a September 15 power sharing deal with opposition rivals Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who leads a smaller faction of the MDC.

The SADC communiqué sets a time-table for the formation of an inclusive government, beginning with the passage of a Constitutional Amendment Bill by February 5; the swearing in of the Prime Minister and his two Deputy Prime Ministers by February 11; and the swearing in of Ministers and Deputy Ministers on February 13 “which will conclude the process of the formation of the inclusive government”.

The power sharing deal will see Mugabe remain President while Tsvangirai assumes the position of Prime Minister, with Mutambara coming in as one of his two deputies.

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