President Robert Mugabe has urged the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to unite with the government on matters of national interest.

The state-run Herald newspaper said Mr. Mugabe "reached out" to the opposition in a ceremony Monday at which agricultural equipment was distributed, saying, ?there must be occasions when we must be together. After all, we eat together.?

Some officials from the MDC faction headed by Arthur Mutambara attended the presentation of tractors and plows, including Umzingwane parliamentarian Nomalanga Khumalo, Senator Fanuel Bayayi of Pumula-Luveve, Lobengula-Magwegwe Senator Thabiso Ndlovu and Bulawayo-Nkulumane Senator Rita Ndlovu.

Senior Program Manager Philip Pasirayi of the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe dismissed the president's comments as grandstanding, saying the opposition should have stayed away.

Movement for Democratic Change faction leader Arthur Mutambara told reporter Chris Gande that Mr. Mugabe?s gesture was a political gimmick and stated categorically that contrary to what the Herald reported, he owns no farm in Zimbabwe.

The government characterized the event as a phase of the land reform program that most economists agree is the root cause of Zimbabwe's steep economic decline.

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