Zimbabwe: New Govt by February
Posted: Monday, January 5, 2009

By Political & Features Editor
January 05, 2009
The Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe is pressing ahead with the formation of a new Government with the full consent of Sadc following invitations extended to the opposition to join structures agreed upon in the broad-based agreement signed last year.

The President last week terminated the executive appointments of ministers and deputy ministers who failed to win seats in last year's harmonised elections and who are not holders of non-constituency seats in the Senate.

Sources close to developments said a Government was most likely to be in place by the end of February by which time it is expected that the three parliamentary political parties would have passed Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill and President Mugabe would have signed it into law.

The Herald is reliably informed that on Saturday one of Zanu-PF's negotiators met Cde Thabo Mbeki's South African facilitation team to discuss the latest developments and how best to proceed.

Cde Nicholas Goche, who is Zanu-PF's secretary for national security in the Politburo and Public Service Minister, was in Musina on Saturday to apprise the South African facilitators on recent developments and to map the way forward.

Though full details of the meeeting were not available yesterday, ruling party sources said Cde Goche met Mr Sydney Mufamadi to "compare notes".

"Though President Mugabe is on his annual retreat, he is reported to be fully seized with the finalisation of the broad-based agreement and that a fully functional Government focused on dealing with the economic problems should be in place sometime next month.

"The President has had enough of games from the opposition and he made this quite clear in his meeting with MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara. They agreed that a Government should be put in place sooner rather than later.

"Cde Goche met the South Africans on Saturday as part of the drive to ensure that this chapter is closed once and for all so that Zimbabweans can move forward," said a source.

The sources said in Saturday's meeting, the two sides discussed MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai's letter to President Mugabe in which he said he was not prepared to take up the post of Prime Minister and its implications on progress.

The letter was left at Zimbabwe's Embassy in Botswana by an "unidentified source" and was subsequently leaked by officials in President Seretse Khama Ian Khama's Government to the Post newspaper in Zambia last week.

The letterhead curiously said the letter was authored at "State House, Harare".

Efforts to get a comment from Cde Goche on his meeting were fruitless and it could not be ascertained if he had returned from Musina.

However, Presidential spokesperson Cde George Charamba said President Mugabe was determined to have a Government in place and was keeping Sadc appraised on the situation on the ground.

"The President is very clear that he should carry Sadc with him in putting together his Government. Equally, he is keeping the facilitator abreast of developments," Cde Charamba said.

Cde Charamba, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, said he could not comment on Cde Goche's meeting as that was "a party issue while I am a Government spokesperson".

Zanu-PF, MDC-T and the MDC have endorsed President Mugabe as Head of State and Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Mr Tsvangirai, however, has been playing hide-and-seek and has hardly been in the country prompting observers to question his commitment to the broad-based agreement he personally signed in the presence of Sadc leaders.

The President has made it clear that the country cannot wait much longer for Mr Tsvangirai to make up his mind and he has already made several moves to make his resolve to move forward clear.

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