via MDC to reject Cabinet posts – DailyNews Live by Gift Phiri and Fungi Kwaramba
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said yesterday President Robert Mugabe had not offered his party posts in the Cabinet, and that if he did, the MDC would reject them.
Mugabe is to begin forming a Cabinet this week and there is speculation he will offer the MDC — which he shared power with for almost five years in a fractious coalition — posts in a new government.
But Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson of the MDC, dismissed any talk of joining a Mugabe administration.
“The national executive and the national council of the party ruled that we are not going to take any position in Mugabe’s Cabinet and we stand guided by that ruling,” Mwonzora said.
“We maintain that this election was stolen and it was a huge fraud and we are not going to bless the fraud.”
Mugabe, who at 89 is Africa’s oldest leader, has angrily rejected the fraud allegations and was sworn in on August 22 for a fresh five-year term in the southern African nation that he has ruled since its independence from Britain in 1980.
Earlier, the MDC retracted an earlier threat to boycott Parliament, saying their elected officials are going to assume their roles and safeguard national interests but will stay away from the State official opening of Parliament.
Mugabe feels confident enough to make this offer because his party won 197 of the 270 seats in the new Parliament, while the MDC has only 70 seats.
When it comes to forming a government, the numbers are on Mugabe’s side.
While Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said no invitation will be extended to the MDC to join the next government, the prerogative to invite MDC ministers into Cabinet lies solely with Mugabe and is an option he could explore.
“We have a big pool of our party members for the president to choose from,” Gumbo said.
Aside from allowing Mugabe to appear magnanimous in victory, a deal with Tsvangirai would have another central advantage for the Zanu PF leader.
He would avoid alienating Western administrations by creating a hard-line government, dominated by Zimbabwe’s extreme right.
Mugabe and prominent members of his Zanu PF party are under financial and travel sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over vote fraud and human rights violations.
Britain said last week that Mugabe’s re-election could not be deemed credible without an independent investigation into allegations of voting irregularities, while the US has said the poll was flawed and will keep sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Bruce Wharton, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, has said much depends on the kind of Cabinet Mugabe will install.
“So we are going to look at what comes next, I think the composition of the new Cabinet would be an
important indicator of where we could work,” Wharton told the Daily News last week.
“I will not give up on the relationship, I will continue to look forward to the sort of developments, policy and program developments that will allow us to revise our policies but we are not there yet.”
Nothing will work, however, without the support of Tsvangirai, who leads the centre-left MDC party and holds the balance of power in Parliament.
If Tsvangirai accepts Cabinet posts and agrees that MDC ministers join a government led by Mugabe, he will be left with an exceptionally difficult choice.
He could accept his rival’s Cabinet offer, with MDC ministers serving as the international face of an administration filled with hawks. Or Tsvangirai’s MDC could go into opposition.
Senior MDC officials who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity insist that they could still serve in the Mugabe administration given that the left of Zimbabwean politics has been eviscerated in this election, leaving it with very few natural allies and without a majority in the 8th Parliament — which takes oath of office tomorrow.
“The people have not told us to join the Cabinet, we stand guided by the people of Zimbabwe and we are sure that the people don’t want us to go in bed with Zanu PF,” Mwonzora said.
Asked whether there have been any overtures from Zanu PF, Mwonzora said: “Certainly, certainly incorrect. We were never in talks with Zanu PF, there were informal approaches but nothing formal ever took place.”
The ex-majority party is challenging poll results in 39 constituencies having trimmed the number because of the prohibitive $10 000 appeal fees for every petition.