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Zimbabwe Opposition Blames Government for Stalled Peace Talks


Talks between Zimbabwe's government and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have reportedly stalled after disagreement over modalities for the talks. The talks, which are aimed at resolving the escalating economic and political crisis, were adjourned after MDC negotiators blamed the government of using ongoing violence to intimidate its partisans. But the ruling ZANU-PF government denied the accusations and reportedly said the talks would continue this week despite any setbacks. The peace negotiations resumed after President Mugabe's government hailed the failure of the United Nations Security Council to impose stiffer sanctions on President Mugabe and the entire leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for Zimbabwe's main opposition MDC. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that the situation on the ground points to a deficit of goodwill being exhibited by the ruling ZANU-PF.

"I must say that the current position is that there is no agreement that has been reached yet, and the reason for the problem is that ZANU-PF has manifested an incredible catalogue of acts of bad faith. They have clearly shown that they are not willing to be serious about the negotiations. They are talking white, but in actual fact they are acting black. There is violence in the country, persecution of our membership, our members of parliament who are being pursued on trumped up charges, all those issues militate against any kind of a meaningful dialogue. And as we are speaking, the situation on the ground points to a deficit of goodwill on the part of the ZANU-PF," Chamisa pointed out.

He said the opposition has found it unattainable to organize political activities.

"I indicated that it is like the MDC is a banned organization because on the issue of freedom of association, assembly and even expression has been curtailed. It is not possible for us to organize our activists. It has almost become impossible for Zimbabweans to go about doing their normal political and even social business. So, under those circumstances it is very difficult to indicate or say that MDC is free to hold activities of our choice. And that is why we are saying the situation is so prohibitive and inhibitive of MDC activities," he said.

Chamisa said the situation on the ground is grim.

"What you must appreciate and understand is that Zimbabwe is burning as we are speaking. Zimbabweans are suffering. There is literally no food. People are literally jobless and almost 99 percent unemployment rate, and the situation is so dire and so extreme in terms of the humanitarian deficit. In terms of the human rights abuses, we are caught in between a rock and a hard place," Chamisa, noted.

He said the opposition seems to be fighting an uphill battle with dire nature of situation on the ground.

"Zimbabweans would want us (opposition) to make sure that there is an expeditious response their very challenging circumstances. But at the same time, we also need to put preconditions that would ensure that that kind of suffering is stopped. So, we are conscious and alive to the fact that we need to put the necessary preconditions ahead of the peace talks. This is why our contact has not been dialoguing in any manner. It has just been consultations that are supposed to clear the course for a negotiated settlement," he said.

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