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Tsvangirai's U-turn: The facts
Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008

By Political and Features Editor
August 14, 2008
The Herald

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed 13 agreements with Zanu-PF and the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC formation before abruptly pulling out of the South African-facilitated talks on Tuesday evening, it has emerged.

Documents seen by The Herald show that Tsvangirai's negotiators in the inter-party dialogue – Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma – were authorised by their party leader to append their signatures to the 13 agreements as and when they were reached.

However, on Tuesday, Tsvangirai presented the other two principals – President Mugabe and Mutambara – with a fresh position paper titled "Notes on the Dialogue to Date", which appeared to repudiate all the agreements already signed and would have set back the status of the negotiations by weeks.

At the time that Tsvangirai said he could not sign the final agreement, which President Mugabe and Mutambara had already endorsed, only four issues remained on the agenda.

It is understood that President Mugabe and Mutambara subsequently agreed on these issues, paving the way for Cde Mugabe to form a new Government and for the Seventh Parliament to start sitting following elections held earlier in the year.

The parties were putting their signatures to agreements as and when they were reached, meaning that the final settlement is a compendium of documents that had been assented to by the three principals.

The main issue that Tsvangirai was not amenable to, insiders revealed, was the framework of a new Government, which is an issue that was laid on the table on July 28, 2008.

Other outstanding issues were legislative agenda priorities (tabled on July 25), and implementation mechanisms and electoral vacancies (both tabled on August 5).

Below are the agreements:

-- On the 25th of July, Tsvangirai agreed that sanctions were not targeted and the Western economic embargo was hurting the nation and should be lifted as a matter of urgency.

-- Part of that agreement, titled Restoration of Economic Stability and Growth, reads: "All forms of measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe (must) be lifted in order to facilitate a sustainable solution to the challenges that are currently facing Zimbabwe."

-- The three principals also agreed on the same date that there was undue external interference in the country's domestic affairs and they would not tolerate the subversion of the sovereign will of the people of Zimbabwe by outsiders with vested interests that ran contrary to national aspirations.

-- "The parties reaffirm the principle of the United Nations Charter on non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries.

"The parties hereby agree that the responsibility of effecting change of Government in Zimbabwe vests exclusively in and is the sole prerogative of the people of Zimbabwe through peaceful, democratic and constitutional means," they said.

-- They added that they would "reject any unlawful, violent, undemocratic and unconstitutional means of changing governments" and that "no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime change in Zimbabwe".

Despite this earlier agreement, it is understood that in his new position paper Tsvangirai unconstitutionally wanted the foundation of the next Government to be premised on the results of the inconclusive March 29 elections – a demand that has been the cornerstone of Western opposition to Zimbabwe's electoral processes.

Another interesting agreement that was reached was on the issue of land reform.

-- On the 25th of July, the three parties said Britain must honour its Lancaster House obligations to fund land tenure reforms in the country.

-- The parties called "upon the United Kingdom government to accept primary responsibility to pay compensation for land acquired from land owners for resettlement".

-- It was also agreed that the issue of multiple farm ownership and productivity on farms be dealt with as a matter of urgency by the Seventh Parliament through the institution of a holistic land audit.

-- On the issue of freedom of expression and communication, in an agreement that was also signed on July 25, the parties said: "(We) call upon governments that are hosting and/or funding external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe to cease such hosting and funding."

-- Zanu-PF, MDC and MDC-T also urged those journalists working for these pirate radio stations to return to Zimbabwe, get proper accreditation and start working for the good of the country rather than for its enemies.

-- Other agreements signed were on State Organs and Institutions, Rule of Law, Respect for the Constitution and Other Laws, and Free Political Activity on July 25.

-- The next day the parties signed agreements on the Security of Persons and Prevention of Violence, the National Youth Training Programme, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Traditional Leaders and Humanitarian and Food Assistance.

-- On August 5, the parties signed an agreement titled Promotion of Equality, National Healing, Cohesion and Unity.

The insiders said everyone had been caught unawares when on Tuesday Tsvangirai brought to the table a document that made it appear as if no agreements had been reached.

It was at this point that the other two parties, in the presence of President Thabo Mbeki, decided they could not start the negotiations all over again and would proceed with the formation of an inclusive Government and the convening of Parliament.

Tsvangirai, the insiders said, would be accommodated in the new Government when he was ready to sign.

However, according to AFP news agency, Tsvangirai yesterday issued a statement in which he said: "We knew negotiations would be difficult, but a resolution that represents anything other than the will of the Zimbabwean people would be a disaster for our country.

"We are committed to a solution that recognises that the people spoke on the 29th of March, 2008," said Tsvangirai, in reference to the harmonised elections that failed to produce a winner in the presidential poll in which he was leading.

This result was overturned in the June presidential run-off election that President Mugabe won resoundingly and Tsvangirai has not challenged that result in the courts.

Insiders said Tsvangirai was parroting the same sentiments expressed by the United States, European Union and Britain.

He also repeated the same demand that Government should unban the NGOs that were being accused of sponsoring opposition activities in the country with Western sponsorship.

"Without further delay, we are demanding that NGOs be allowed to resume humanitarian assistance – distributing food, medicines and life-saving assistance. This destructive policy of banning humanitarian assistance can be reversed with one letter," said Tsvangirai.

On the eve of the talks on August 8, the governments of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and US, and the European Commission issued a similar demand.

"The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis requires the immediate and unconditional lifting of the suspension on all NGO field operations. Harassment of NGOs must cease immediately, and protection for humanitarian workers must be guaranteed. Timing is critical. Steps must be taken now in order for food to be available to those in need in future months," said the statement.

The government has accused these NGOs of using food to campaign for the MDC-T in the rural areas, which are the traditional stronghold of the ruling Zanu-PF.

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