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Zimbabwe Opposition Warns Ruling Party About Forming Government Unilaterally

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF government is in the process of amending the constitution that would enable the embattled president to form a unity government despite a strong dispute with the main opposition party. But the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) warned it would use its parliamentary majority to thwart efforts of the government. From Pretoria, South Africa, Zimbabwean political analyst George Mkwananzi tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe is showing gross disrespect to the African Union and the international community.

"I think this is quite in keeping with what they (ruling ZANU-PF) have always threatened to do if the opposition is not in their opinion co-operative. However, I also think there could be in the circles of the opposition some possibility that they might turn around and work with the regime of Robert Mugabe," Mkwananzi noted.

He said the ruling party faces a Herculean task trying to amend the constitution in a way that enables President Mugabe to form a government.

"It would be quite difficult for amendment number 19 to be put through as a legislation because it would mean that it would need the support of those in parliament who are in the majority, and they happen to be in the opposition," he said.

Mkwananzi said the ruling party's move could mean it is confident of convincing some opposition parliament members in its quest to form a government with or without the main opposition party.

"For him (President Mugabe) and his party (ZANU-PF) to go on and embark on this adventure, it suggests to me that they could be optimistic that they would receive the necessary numbers to get this bill through and put in place such a legislation that allows the operationalization of a government of unity. If that is true, then it may even be difficult for the opposition if among their numbers there are MPs who feel that this government of national unity and the legislation associated with it should be put in place. They would find it difficult to make it ungovernable because there would be dissidents within their own numbers," Mkwananzi pointed out.

He said there are sentiments suggesting that both the ruling party and the opposition seem not to have the interest of the ordinary Zimbabwean at heart.

"I have seen that kind of sentiment, especially here in South Africa. They believe that the MDC is being unnecessarily obstinate and that they should give in to whatever is put on the table for them. Accept it and work with it within that framework and hope that they would get something out of it in the long run," he said.

Mkwananzi described as unfortunate suggestions that the MDC is not being co-operative with the ruling ZANU-PF.

"Such people miss the point. The miss the fact that MDC is arguing from the position of a victor who has been denied to enjoy or to bask in the glory of this victory, and they have been struggling to convince everybody to see them as victors and Robert Mugabe as a hoard of thieves and robbers who have stolen away from the MDC what belongs to them. And in that context, it put the whole African negotiation initiative in a quandary in that they seem to be condoning things that happened in Kenya and are now happening in Zimbabwe. And it might continue spreading to the rest of Africa and other countries. You may get a ruling party which refuses accept that it has lost and then takes up a tactic of ZANU-PF and then in the end they are accommodated in the government as a senor partner instead of being a loser," Mkwananzi noted.

Leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Mugabe would be reneging on his promise to abide by a recently signed agreement to resolve the country's crisis through power sharing. But the government said it would not allow the opposition to dictate the actions of the government from the sidelines.

The MDC has said it will not join a unity government with Mugabe until all issues in power-sharing talks are resolved. Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe of trying to take control of the most powerful ministries and freeze out his party in violation of a September 15 power-sharing agreement, seen as the best hope of rescuing Zimbabwe's economy.