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Zimbabweans Sympathetic to Tsvangirai's Passport Issue


Some Zimbabwe government supporters say President Robert Mugabe should form a government without the opposition, following an opposition boycott of talks Monday in Swaziland. Tendai Maphosa asked ordinary Zimbabweans in Harare what they think about this latest threat to the power-sharing deal signed last month and reports for VOA.

After failing to agree on the allocation of Cabinet posts last week, Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change decided to refer the matter to the Southern African Development Community.

They agreed to meet with SADC representatives earlier this week, but that meeting never took place. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he could not travel through South Africa to Swaziland for the meeting because he does not have a passport.

Mr. Tsvangirai surrendered his passport when it ran out of pages earlier this year and it has not been returned.

But President Robert Mugabe's government says Mr. Tsvangirai was issued an emergency travel document that was sufficient to attend Monday's meeting.

VOA sought the opinions of some Zimbabweans on the matter.

For one man, it is simply a matter of respect - if the government can issue Olympic gold medalist Kirsty Coventry a diplomatic passport then the man he described as "our president" should not be denied an ordinary passport.

"It is wrong, Tsvangirai is our president and they give him an emergency passport," he said. "Kirsty Coventry has a diplomatic passport and Tsvangirai is given a document that expires in six months, it does not make sense."

Another man says if he was issued with an emergency travel document Mr. Tsvangirai should have traveled to Swaziland. But he said the prime-minister designate should get a passport.

"He definitely deserves to have that passport," he said. "The talks should have been held with him present, and I think him not having a passport was neither here nor there."

The government claims they could not issue Mr. Tsvangirai with a passport because they have run out of imported paper for passports. Mr. Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba says this is due to sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West.

But this Zimbabwean man scoffed at Charamba's claim, saying the passport office is issuing passports to ordinary Zimbabweans daily, and he says for a high fee they can get their passport in 24 hours.

"They have one-day passport services, they should just give him a passport. They are negotiating in bad faith," he said.

But the government's supporters disagree. Zimbabwe war veterans' organization leader Jabulani Sibanda has urged Mr. Mugabe to appoint a Cabinet without the MDC.

The Herald daily newspaper, a government mouthpiece, quotes Sibanda as saying Mr. Tsvangirai lost the elections and efforts to accommodate him in the inclusive government should not make it appear as if he is important. Sibanda also warned Mr. Tsvangirai of unspecified action should he continue to "behave the way he is behaving".

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