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Zimbabwe Prime Minister’s Party Under Fire After Calling for International Help

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's political party is coming under intense criticism after calling for the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene in resolving a deadlock in Zimbabwe's unity government.

The move is reportedly generating more friction in the unity government after supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party dismissed the call as bogus and premature, a charge the prime minister's party denies.

Mugabe supporters contend that discussions between the principals within the unity government have not yet reached a stage where there is a need for arbitration. But the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says there is a deadlock that needs to be addressed.

Political analyst Rejoice Mbowenya told VOA that the time for arbitration is now.

"The MDC has got a right to turn to the SADC for arbitration because in terms of the Global Political Agreement and the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) the SADC is guarantor of the success of this agreement," Mbowenya said.

He said the MDC is in the right direction by calling for international help to resolve the deadlock with President Mugabe's ZANU-PF in the unity government.

"Morgan Tsvangirai and his team have got the right to turn to SADC and I believe they are doing the right thing because that is the only transient escape route they might have at the moment," he said.

Mbowenya described as unfortunate accusations that the prime minister's party overstated it bounds by calling for international intervention to help resolve the deadlock in the unity government.

"That is an unfortunate position because what the MDC is asking for is the basic acknowledgment that the political agreement was based on an understanding of a gentleman's way of doing business," Mbowenya said.

He denied speculations that both the African Union and SADC do not have leverage to use against President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

"I believe that is a misinterpretation. We know that there are certain things that SADC cannot do as a collective entity, but the most powerful force in SADC is South Africa… in the first place that singlehandedly brought Mugabe to the negotiating table when he said he was not going to have Morgan Tsvangirai to the party," he said.

Mbowenya described as best the agreement that led to the formation of the unity government.

"This agreement is good for everybody. It's as good for MDC as it is for ZANU-PF because if Mugabe had not entered into this agreement, his political career would have been effectively over because the crisis would have completely paralyzed him," Mbowenya said.

He urged the prime minister to be more forceful to have ZANU-PF cede some grounds to his party in the unity government.

"I believe that Morgan Tsvangirai still has got an opportunity to use that critical leverage… to push the deal further and with a bit of pressure from himself and his executive committee and SADC for Mugabe's empire would crumble," he said.

The National Executive of the MDC over the weekend referred to what it described as outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement to SADC and the African Union for arbitration was to address a deadlock within the unity government.

The party said the appointments of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, provincial governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries be revisited, with all the three parties having a say and benefiting from the appointments. The party also said it wanted a stop to what it said are political arrests of its members.

The MDC has often accused President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party of dragging their feet on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Global Political Agreement which paved the way for the inclusive government also created The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), comprising and co-chaired by members from the three parties to ensure the implementation of the agreement.