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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai seeks SADC pressure on Mugabe

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will meet regional leaders this week to put pressure on coalition partner President Robert Mugabe to settle disputes in the unity government, a senior aide said Monday.

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, addresses supporters at a rally in Bulawayo September 13, 2009. REUTERS/Emmanuel Chitate

Tsvangirai said Friday his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party would disengage from Mugabe’s “dishonest and unreliable” ZANU-PF party in the unity cabinet set up in February.

Political analysts say the MDC’s decision may not mean the end of the power-sharing government but it will put pressure on the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the regional body under whose auspices former South African President Thabo Mbeki brokered a settlement in Zimbabwe last year.

The MDC boycott has created the country’s most serious political crisis since the formation of the new administration. Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said Sunday Mugabe would chair a cabinet meeting Tuesday without the MDC.

The SADC said Tsvangirai would meet Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who chairs the SADC’s political panel on defence and security, Tuesday in Mozambique.

An aide told Reuters Tsvangirai would travel this week to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a meeting with President Joseph Kabila, chairman of the SADC, to urge the body to force Mugabe to honour the power-sharing agreement signed last year.

“He (Tsvangirai) will be meeting SADC leaders, including Jacob Zuma (South Africa) and Jose Eduardo dos Santos (Angola),” said the aide, who refused to be identified.

“We are doing all this to explain to the region the problems affecting the unity government. They (SADC) are the guarantors of this agreement.”


Tsvangirai travelled to South Africa Monday and Vincent Magwenya, spokesman in the South African president’s office, said that by late Monday his office had received no requests for a meeting between Zuma and Tsvangirai.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of failing to implement terms of last year’s political deal, such as appointments of senior government officials, including a new central bank governor and the attorney general, and the swearing-in of Tsvangirai’s nominee for the post of deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett.

The High Court Monday set November 9 as the date for Bennett’s trial for illegal possession of arms to commit terrorism and banditry.

Mugabe has refused to swear Bennett in until he is acquitted. Bennett denies the charges that carry a maximum death sentence on conviction.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of a splinter MDC group, said he would meet Mugabe later Monday and his party would attend Tuesday’s cabinet meeting “to express our disgust and condemnation of the way the outstanding issues and the Roy Bennett case has been handled.”

Editing by Andrew Dobbie