Thursday, November 5, 2009

ZIMBABWE: Donors uneasy about Mugabe's threat

President Robert Mugabe HARARE, 4 November 2009 (IRIN) -
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's threat to appoint interim ministers to plug the gap left by the "disengagement" of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from the unity government could lead to a review of donor funding, a highly placed official from a major donor country told IRIN. "We are still monitoring developments. No decision has been made to appoint acting ministers, but that would certainly send a wrong message, and could get donors who want the situation in Zimbabwe to improve to review their financial commitments to the inclusive government," said the official, who declined to be identified. The Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed in September 2008, paved the way for the formation of the unity government in February 2009. "When the Global Political Agreement was signed ... we said at the time that we would be looking out to see if the GPA was fully implemented," the official noted. Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister and MDC leader, withdrew from attending cabinet meetings on 16 October 2009 over Mugabe's procrastination in swearing in provincial governors, while alleging that MDC members and officials faced constant harassment. The MDC also believes that the continued stay in office of the attorney general and the Reserve Bank Governor - self-admitted allies of Mugabe - is in contravention of the GPA. After the MDC's disengagement, information minister Webster Shamu said "His Excellency [Mugabe] may have to consider appointing ministers in an acting capacity to key ministries, for the sake of a successful agricultural season and general economic turnaround." The passage of the unity government has been far from smooth, but the MDC's disengagement represents the most serious breakdown in relations between the partners in the fledgling unity government and its attempt to haul Zimbabwe out of the economic abyss in which nearly 7 million people relied on donor food aid in the first quarter of 2009. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) organ on politics, defence and security will meet on 5 November in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, to discuss developments in Zimbabwe.
Firstly, appointing acting ministers would be illegal and unconstitutional; doing so would be killing the GPA The organ's troika of members is comprised of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, Zambian President Rupiah Banda, and sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III. SADC chairman Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has already visited Zimbabwe to try to resolve the impasse. Zimbabwe's finance portfolio has also been the object of an ongoing turf war between the MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. "Firstly, appointing acting ministers would be illegal and unconstitutional; doing so would be killing the GPA," Finance Minister Tendai Biti told IRIN. "It would amount to a violation of the Global Political Agreement, which created the transitional inclusive government. It has to be understood that the MDC has only disengaged from ZANU-PF, and not government work. We are all going to our offices to work," he said. Government work continues "Nothing has changed in terms of how we do business; we are coming up with frameworks of introducing good governance and accountability to avoid abuse of funds. The money is stored in a multi-donor basket fund, and there has to be consultation and agreement on how it is spent." Prof Arthur Mutambara, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of a breakaway MDC faction, told IRIN that Tsvangirai's decision to boycott cabinet could prove counterproductive. "If decisions are made in cabinet, even if others have boycotted the meeting, they will be binding," he said. "So, what we have been doing is to fight against bad decisions, while acting as the peace-builder between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe." dd/go/he
Theme(s): (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Governance [ENDS]

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