MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has rejected a proposal by Sadc and the United States to form a government of national unity (GNU) with former Finance minister Simba Makoni as one of its key members.
Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Tsvangirai last Thursday told the US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer in Pretoria that the MDC did not want Makoni to be part of a government of national unity or a transitional one.
The sources said Frazer had suggested that Tsvangirai should work with Makoni and Zanu PF to come up with a GNU as a solution to the country’s deepening political crisis heightened by the failure of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce the results of the March 29 presidential poll.
Apart from the US, Sadc is reportedly also pushing for a GNU, or a transitional government, in Zimbabwe and want Makoni to play a crucial role in its formation.
Sadc leaders think that a presidential election run-off would not resolve the current situation but only worsen it.
This view is shared by some in Zimbabwe.
The MDC does not want the run-off because it says Tsvangirai won outright in the first round.
“Tsvangirai rejected the idea of Makoni becoming part of his government,” one of the sources said. “He accused Makoni of undermining him in Sadc by suggesting that there should be a transitional government headed by him instead of Tsvangirai who won the presidential election.”
Makoni reportedly told an extraordinary meeting of Sadc on the Zimbabwe crisis on April 12 that he should lead a transitional government made up of Zanu PF and the MDC.
However, Tsvangirai questioned his proposal, arguing that the ex-finance minister came in a distant third in the presidential elections and could not be a leader without a mandate from the people.
Speaking to journalists after meeting Tsvangirai, Frazer acknowledged the possibility that negotiations between the ruling party, led by President Robert Mugabe, and the opposition may be necessary.
However, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee this week denied that Frazer had asked Tsvangirai to consider a government of national unity or a transitional arrangement with Zanu PF and Makoni.
“It’s not true that my boss made that suggestion,” McGee said. “It’s up to the parties involved to decide the way forward. The will of the people, however, should be respected.”Â
Sources said top officials in the Makoni camp last week tried to meet the MDC leadership to “clear the air” over various issues, but Tsvangirai reportedly spurned the move.
The gap between Tsvangirai and Makoni widened this week when the former finance minister told a South African television station, etv, that the opposition leader and Mugabe should not be part of a transitional government.
Instead, Makoni said someone else, apparently himself, should lead it.
Makoni had suggested before the elections that if he won he would establish a transitional authority to run the country before fresh polls are held. “The utterances by Makoni on etv have further offended Tsvangirai,” a source said. “It will be very difficult for them to work together.”
Makoni and his group tried to force Tsvangirai to drop out of the recent election, claiming that they had a better chance of winning but failed.
A meeting between the two to resolve the issue failed to take place.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said his party would not yield to pressure from any quarter to have people imposed on it. “We are not going to work with people simply because of pressure from whatever quarters. We will determine our arrangement, programme and the course of events,” Chamisa said.
“However, our lines of communication remain open to all progressive Zimbabweans. If Makoni is one of those, we are open to communicate and even work with him, but we will not be pressured to do so. It seems there are some people who think we have an obligation to work with or be led by him. Where does Makoni or his supporters get this notion that he is ordained to rule?”Â Â Â
The sources said despite the Tsvangirai-Makoni stand off, Sadc — through South African President Thabo Mbeki — was still pressing ahead with its proposal for a GNU to avoid a presidential run-off between Mugabe and Tsvangirai this month which they argue would deepen the Zimbabwe crisis.
Mbeki this week dispatched his envoy Kingsley Mamabolo to Harare to push negotiations for a compromise solution.Â
Sources said Sadc wanted to avoid the presidential run-off saying its outcome was likely to increase political tension, fuel violence and claims lives.
Sadc and other African countries, the sources said, wanted a transitional government to give the country a chance to reorganise itself and come up with an effective government.
They argue that Tsvangirai and the MDC need time to learn the ropes of government before they could take full control. “The thinking is that the MDC needs help to be able to form an effective government,” a source said. “A winner-takes-all solution won’t work.”
The MDC appears amenable to these proposals.
Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general, last week said the MDC would accept a transitional government provided Mugabe was not part of it.
“We have said that we have no problem with a transitional government but our terms are as follows: Mugabe cannot be part of it, Mugabe belongs to the past, he is a hyena,” Biti said in a radio interview.
“The new Zimbabwe belongs to cheetahs, so that is our answer. You cannot afford a winner-take-all situation. It cannot be a transitional government in which Mugabe is at the helm. Quite clearly Tsvangirai won this election so he has to be the dominant player, but everyone must play a role in it.”