In an interview ahead of his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, President Robert Mugabe told Reuters that he is not expecting the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to immediately lift travel and financial sanctions on him and more than 200 other members of his ZANU-PF inner circle.
Despite the seemingly conciliatory tone of that comment, Mr. Mugabe was adamant that he would “never” replace Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono or Attorney General Johannes Tomana as the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been pressing him to do for months.
State radio carried a report Thursday blaming the MDC for the passage of the U.S Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act of 2001 resulting in the imposition of travel and financial sanctions on top officials and related companies.
Political analyst Brilliant Mhlanga in London told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe has very little chance of convincing the West to lift sanctions in his United Nations speech Friday.
In Harare, meanwhile, Prime Minister Tsvangirai briefed diplomats on the state of the unity government, telling them that the question of Western sanctions will be taken up by the cabinet when Mr. Mugabe returns from New York.
He also told the envoys that the newly constituted Media Commission and the existing Broadcasting Authority will soon be fully staffed, reported Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi who attended a briefing later by Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi.
Meanwhile, sources in Mr. Tsvangirai’s formation of the MDC say he is under mounting pressure from hardliners to quit the unity government over alleged violations of the 2008 power-sharing agreement and intransigence by Mr. Mugabe and ZANU PF.
Sources noted that the National Security Council intended to provide oversight of military and security forces has refused to brief the prime minister and is meeting Mr. Mugabe in secret.
MDC officials are also irked by Mr. Mugabe’s insistence he alone can chair cabinet meetings. Since the president left for the U.N. General Assembly the cabinet has not met.
Elsewhere, police indicated they want to question MDC security director Chris Dlamini about a report on alleged murders of MDC activists submitted to the Attorney General's office.
Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that excluding Mr. Tsvangirai from security briefings is unconstitutional.