Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has
rejected demands by the leader of the opposition for the immediate release of
opposition activists. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, is demanding the immediate release of all opposition and
civic activists before he agrees to the full implementation of the recently
signed power sharing agreement. This comes ahead of a possible meeting early
next week between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe. The meeting is a
last-ditch effort by the opposition leader to revive the stalled power-sharing
agreement that was supposed to lead to the formation of a unity government.
Political analyst Glen Mpani tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition
is within its rights to ask for release of the detainees.
demands of Morgan Tsvangirai are in line with what every progressive Zimbabwean
is thinking of right now because the charges that the ZANU-PF government has
leveled against the MDC activists and the civil society's Jestina Mokoko, who
has been arrested, are not new. ZANU-PF has got a history of trumping up
charges, creating stories of people plotting coups to overthrow the government
as a way of weakening the opposition," Mpani noted.
said both the African Union and the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) have paid little heed to distress calls of repression allegedly committed
by the ruling ZANU-PF government.
allegations have been dismissed by SADC, and they have been dismissed
externally. And I think for these activists to be continued being detained by
ZANU-PF while ZANU-PF is claiming that it is willing to talk to the MDC is in
itself pretentious. So for Morgan to demand for the immediate and unconditional
release of the activists is one condition that ZANU-PF has to be able to deal
with as a sign of showing how sincere they are about the power-sharing agreement,"
said the bone of contention in the current impasse can be easily resolved by
ZANU-PF fully implementing the agreement.
"The ball is in the court of
ZANU-PF. If you look at the current agreement and to what they have so far
agreed on, we see that the balance of distribution is skewed in favor of
ZANU-PF… the ball is in the court of the ZANU-PF to either accept or not to
accept the concerns of the opposition MDC," Mpani pointed out.
He said the only way the
impasse would be surmounted is when ZANU-PF meets MDC concerns and agrees fully
to implement the agreement.
"Any opportunity for
negotiation should be viewed as an opportunity where the deadlock can be
broken. But the deadlock can only be worked through if ZANU-PF accepts that the
MDC is an equal partner, and the MDC is not being coerced or been trampled upon
by the ruling party. And I think if that approach is taken, then a solution can
be found," he said.
Mpani said although the
opposition does not have enough leverage within the SADC region, it has a lot
of support in Zimbabwe.
"I think the leverage for
Morgan Tsvangirai is only immersed in the amount of support that he has within
the country. Obviously, he doesn't have enough in the region because the
decision by SADC dampens the whole process because SADC gave a decision that
outrightly gave support to Mugabe. And even if the issue is taken to the AU
(African Union), I don't think they would come up with a different position. So
the only place where Tsvangirai has and currently holds now is to say 'if I
don't get into this agreement, things are not going to change the economy is
going to remain as it is.' People are still going to view Zimbabwe as a state
that is repressive and a state where nothing has changed. So that in itself is
leverage enough to be able to assist in providing an opportunity in which
Mugabe can look at things differently," Mpani noted.
leader Tsvangirai also accused President Mugabe's government of breaching the power-sharing agreement by
abducting and detaining MDC activists. He demanded the unconditional release of
party activists before the power-sharing deal can be implemented.
Meanwhile, the presidents of South
Africa and Mozambique will meet Zimbabwe
political parties on Monday in a new regional push to break the power-sharing
deadlock. South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe
will lead a SADC delegation that includes Mozambique President Armando Guebuza and mediator and former South African
President Thabo Mbeki.