Tsvangirai Tells SADC: Don't Push Us

Staff Writer
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday called on Southern African Development Community (SADC), to be more actively involved in finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.

"There is nothing to be gained from trying to push the MDC into an agreement just for the sake of removing Zimbabwe from the SADC agenda."

Addressing journalist at the Gaborone Sun on Thursday, Tsvangirari said: "The MDC can only enter a new government when our support from the people translates to substantial gains for them in terms of democracy, freedom, and economic growth."
Tsvangirai questioned the commitment of the regional body in ensuring fair resolution to the Zimbabwean stalemate.

"We are told that SADC is the key to resolving the Zimbabwe crisis but why then is that key not opening the door to a more democratic dispensation in our country?
"SADC needs to ask itself if resolving the Zimbabwean crisis requires them to work more closely with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

After all this negotiation process was mandated to SADC by the AU and therefore we ask that SADC makes a formal report to the African body on the state of the negotiations in general and the outcome of the Novembers 9 summit in particular."

Tsvangirai also threatened to pull out of the power- sharing deal by January next year if President Robert Mugabe's side does not immediately stop abducting MDC supporters. "If these abductions do not cease immediately and if all the abductees are not released or charged in a court of law by January 1, 2009, I will be asking the MDC national council to pass a resolution to suspend all negotiations and contact with ZANU-PF.

There can be no meaningful talks while a campaign of terror is being waged against our people."Tsvangirai told the media that for the past two months, more than 42 members of the MDC and civil society have been abducted and their whereabouts are still unknown.

"The regime is conducting a deliberate and targeted national terror campaign to undermine the MDC's support within Zimbabwe and the work of the pro-democracy and human rights organisations".

"This situation can no longer continue. The MDC can no longer sit at the same negotiating table with a party that is abducting our members and other innocent civilians, and refusing to produce any of them before a court of law," he warned.
There is an increasing sense of

urgency surrounding the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis.

Not only is the death toll through disease, hunger, poverty and suppression rising every day, but Zimbabweans themselves are beginning to feel that the hope they invested in the Global Political Agreement will never mature into tangible benefits.
The MDC leader further said there is need to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis urgently because people cannot be allowed to suffer any longer.

"The people of Zimbabwe cannot be expected to continue living under such appalling conditions indefinitely. Therefore, this negotiation process must now be confined to a specific timeframe in which all the outstanding issues are addressed, including the appointment of Provincial governors, the composition and constitution of the National Security Council and equity in the allocation of the key ministries.

If this cannot be achieved then internationally supervised presidential elections must be conducted in an environment that is conducive to a free and fair poll". He also wants Mugabe government to issue him with a passport.

Tsvangirai, who is in Gaborone, says he has been without a passport for six months now.
The MDC chief also contradicted statements made by chairman of SADC and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that the power-sharing deal between Tsvangirai and Mugabe would be signed within days.

Tsvangirai said it would take at least a month for Constitutional amendment no.15 to pass in parliament. He said there are other issues, he did not name, that they would then need to agree upon, before a coalition government could be formed.

Tsvangirai said he does not know what informed the South African president, who is also the facilitator of the talks, to announce that the deal will be sealed within days.
Tsvangirai also contradicted reports from Zimbabwe, which say that Mugabe has extended an offer of Prime Minister to Tsvangirai's MDC in Harare. 

Tsvangirai dismissed the reports as lies, saying that Mugabe has no powers to make the offer.  Tsvangirai said if at all such an offer of prime minister was to be made, it could only be made through the right channels. Tsvangirai said such an offer, if it existed, would have been made to him through the SADC, or the AU structures, and not Mugabe directly.



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