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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Sets Consultations With S. African President Zuma


Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will meet Saturday with South African President Jacob Zuma to inform the chairman of the Southern African Development Community on issues dividing the Harare unity government, Mr. Tsvangirai's office said.

Topping the agenda are President Robert Mugabe's unilateral appointments in late 2008 of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Mr. Tsvangirai will also brief Mr. Zuma on what his branch of the Movement for Democratic Change charges has been selective prosecution of its members of parliament by members of the judiciary loyal to President Robert Mugabe's long-ruling ZANU-PF party. The MDC says ZANU-PF is prosecuting its MPs to whittle away at its parliamentary majority.

A spokesman for Mr. Tsvangirai said he will urge Mr. Zuma to call an urgent regional summit to take up these issues. SADC is a guarantor of the September 2008 Global Political Agreement that provides the basis for Zimbabwe's unity government.

Five Tsvangirai MDC formation legislators have been convicted and sentenced on charges that range from causing a public disturbance to rape. Other cases are pending in the courts. The MDC says the charges have been trumped up for political reasons.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to Mr. Tsvangirai's office, told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the prime minister hopes the regional organization can broker an amicable agreement on the outstanding issues.

Meanwhile, the MDC said Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of the party, received an anonymous letter at his Harare home with a bullet advising him to "sort out your estate." The party said it viewed the letter and its contents as constituting a death threat.

The same kind of missive was sent in 2007 to journalist Bill Saidi, editor at that time of the weekly Standard newspaper, but was not followed by an attempt on his life.

The MDC issued a statement condemning the apparent threat. "The terror tactics of sending bullets to cabinet ministers is a sure sign that the desperate forces fighting the new dispensation are getting more and more desperate every day," it said.

Formed in February by ZANU-PF, Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC and the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the so-called inclusive government has been bedeviled by political squabbling, mainly between ZANU-PF and the Tsvangirai MDC grouping.

Political sources said an agreement was reached recently by the unity government principals for Tsvangirai MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett to be sworn in next month as deputy agriculture minister at the same time as newly named governors named by the party.

Bennett was arrested in February even as the government was being formed on weapons charges and Mr. Mugabe had refused to swear him in until those charges were disposed.

Elsewhere, correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported that Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa urged supporters at a rally Sunday in Bikita East constituency, Masvingo province, to take part in ongoing consultations for the revision of the national constitution.

More news from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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