Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is
coming under intense criticism after going on a month-long vacation trip
outside the country. The former finance minister is sharply criticizing Mugabe
for leaving the country in economic ruins while he embarks on a holiday. Simba
Makoni said Mugabe can afford to use state resources to go on vacation while
the ordinary Zimbabwean is saddled with abject poverty and dying from the
recent cholera epidemic. The criticism comes after President Mugabe announced Monday that
he would be forming a new government following his invitations to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to join on the basis of the
power-sharing agreement signed last year. From Zimbabwe's capital, Harare
Makoni tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe is deriving pleasure
as the people he claims to be serving are suffering to the point of death.
amount of money he spent on going abroad on holidays could save lives, could
plant hectares of crops and could pay doctors who are not working in hospitals.
It does show his regard or disregard for Zimbabweans lives and welfare," Makoni noted.
government-controlled Herald newspaper reported that Mugabe plans to go ahead
to form a new government by the end of February by which time it is expected
that the three parliamentary political parties will have passed constitutional
Amendment Number 19 Bill and Mugabe will have signed it into law. Simba Makoni
says Mugabe's move to form a new government in February buys him time to
outmaneuver the opposition politically.
"Firstly, the news item said
he intends to form a new government by the end of February. He is giving
himself two solid months, which suggests to me he intends to consult with
Morgan (Tsvangirai the opposition leader) and hopefully to persuade Morgan to
join the government. So it doesn't suggest to me that he wants to go it alone,"
Makoni said the
constitutional amendment that President Mugabe is seeking could only be
implemented with the help of the opposition.
"He would only do so (form a
government) when Amendment Number 19 has gone through parliament. Amendment
Number 19 cannot go through parliament without the support of the MDC
legislators because it requires two thirds majority. My take on the point is
that he is giving himself enough time to bring Morgan on board so that Morgan
can in turn bring his parliamentarians on board, on Amendment Number 19. He is
not going to go it alone," Makoni pointed out.
He said the opposition would
only be part of a unity government provided his demand of full implementation
of the recently signed power-sharing agreement with the ruling ZANU-PF party is
adhered to by President Mugabe.
"I think conditions Morgan
is demanding before taking up the position are important. He is not refusing to
take over the prime minister's position, but that he wants the terms of the
global political agreement implemented fully to the letter and spirit, which
Mugabe is not doing. And my reading is that Mugabe is buying himself enough
time to satisfy Morgan's concerns about the global political agreement so that
Morgan can come on board, and then he would form an all inclusive government,"
Meanwhile, Nicholas Goche,
who is the ruling ZANU-PF's secretary for national security in the Politburo
and Public Service Minister, was
reportedly in South Africa to brief the facilitators including former South African President
Thabo Mbeki on recent developments and to map the way forward. Makoni says he
doubts that President Mugabe is willing to form a unity government with the
"I'm not confident that
Mugabe wants to form an inclusive government. I am confident that Mugabe cannot
go it alone," Makoni noted.
He said what is delaying the
forming of a unity government could be attributed to Mugabe's failure so far to
implement the recently signed power-sharing agreement with the opposition.
"We have not had the
inclusive government yet because Mugabe has not implemented the full provisions
of the global political agreement. I would think the purpose of (Nicholas)
Goche going to see President Mbeki is to ensure that both the facilitator and
President Mbeki be guarantors and SADC (the Southern African Development
Community) and the African Union are satisfied that the global political
agreement is being implemented," he said.