Elton Mangoma, the energy minister in Zimbabwe’s fractious inclusive government, and a member of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested Thursday. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, said the government is dysfunctional and that he will push for fresh elections under a roadmap designed by the Southern African Development Community.
Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader and prime minister in the inclusive government, says Mangoma’s arrest is a very serious political crisis.
Mangoma was arrested at his government office early Thursday. So far he has not been charged.
In the past few weeks, Mangoma has been linked in state and private media to delays in the arrival of fuel.
Though he said he would not quit the two-year-old unity government, Tsvangirai said Thursday it has reached a low point.
"There is a renewed sense of urgency when a minister is paraded like a common criminal. I think we have reached a moment when even those with legendary patience like ourselves will come to say enough is enough," said Tsvangirai.
Human rights groups estimate that supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party have assaulted at least 80 MDC supporters so far this year. And, there have been at least 80 arrests of people loyal to the MDC in the last three weeks.
Tsvangirai says there has been escalation of violence this year.
"In January 2011, we have seen an increase in instances of violence and assaults on the people of Zimbabwe. T his has included the destruction of peoples' homes in Mbare and other areas, and the displacement of 1,200 MDC cadres," he said.
Tsvangirai said he and the MDC do not regret entering the inclusive government, but that he was determined to get full implementation of the political agreement from which it emerged.
He said following Mangoma’s arrest he would urgently contact the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, to speed up production of a negotiated roadmap to ensure free and fair elections and a legitimate government. He said at present the inclusive government was paralysed and dysfunctional.
SADC has guaranteed the political agreement and appointed South African President Jacob Zuma to mediate its progress.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF have said repeatedly the inclusive government is not working and that they want fresh elections as soon as possible. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena accuses the MDC of causing violence and denies partisan arrests.
ZANU-PF narrowly lost the last elections in 2008, and Tsvangirai easily beat Mugabe in the first round of the presidential poll, but he pulled out of the run-off citing violence against his supporters.
With no food in the shops and world breaking inflation, South Africa negotiated a political agreement between the MDC and ZANU-PF in 2008. Six months later the inclusive government came to power.