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April 24, 2010

Iranian president Ahmadinejad in Zimbabwe for trade fair

Iranian president Ahmadinejad in Zimbabwe for trade fair

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is visiting Zimbabwe to sign trade agreements with the country and meet with Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Ahmadinejad, in comments at the trade fair located in Bulawayo, said the amount of trade between the two nations should be increased. The Iranian president remarked that Zimbabwe and Iran made a friendship based on a principled stand against Western interference, and accused the West of seeking control over Zimbabwe’s natural resources.

Mugabe commented: “Because of the principled positions we have taken at both the domestic and international level, Zimbabwe and Iran have been unjustly vilified and punished by Western countries. Be also assured, comrade president, of Zimbabwe’s continuous support of Iran’s just cause on the nuclear issue.”

The US wants new UN sanctions against Iran, due to the latter’s refusal to stop its uranium enrichment, saying that it it is intended for nuclear weapons. Iranian authorities, however, insist the programme is only for peaceful purposes.

According to the The Sunday Telegraph, the trades will consist of Iran supplying oil to Zimbabwe, in exchange for the latter’s allowing Iran to obtain access to uranium deposits in the country. “Iran secured the exclusive uranium rights last month when minister of state for Presidential affairs, Didymus Mutasa visited Tehran. That is when the formal signing of the deal was made, away from the glare of the media,” a Zimbabwean government source stated, as quoted by the Telegraph.

Ahmadinejad’s visit brought another source of friction between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said that Mugabe’s invitation sent the wrong message to the rest of the world as Zimbabwe was re-engaging the West and trying to rebuild its economy. MDC sources said Tsvangirai flew to South Africa on Thursday, the day on which Ahmadinejad arrived.

In a statement, the MDC remarked that “Ahmadinejad’s visit is not only an insult to the people of Zimbabwe, but an affront to democracy and to the oppressed people of Iran.”



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November 6, 2009

Zimbabwe prime minister Tsvangirai ends cabinet boycott

Zimbabwe prime minister Tsvangirai ends cabinet boycott

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Friday, November 6, 2009

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Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister of Zimbabwe, said on Thursday that he was calling off his boycott of the coalition government with president Robert Mugabe. The prime minister said he was giving Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party 30 days to work on “the pertinent issues we are concerned about”.

Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had pulled out of the coalition government three weeks ago, protesting what they called harassment of Mugabe opponents and accusing the president of not fulfilling the power-sharing agreement agreed to in February.

“We have suspended our disengagement from the GPA [Global Political Agreement] with immediate effect and we will give President Robert Mugabe 30 days to implement the agreement on the pertinent issues we are concerned about,” Tsvangirai said. His move came after he attended a meeting in Mozambique with the Southern African Development Community.



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October 26, 2009

Zimbabwean police raid MDC party\’s offices

Zimbabwean police raid MDC party’s offices

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Monday, October 26, 2009

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According to the Zimbabwean finance minister, a building belonging to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party was raided by police on Friday. The police had reportedly been searching for weapons.

Morgan Tsvangirai (2009)
Image: Harry Wad.

The MDC secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said that the house, located in a suburb of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, was “ransacked” by several dozen armed policemen after dark on Friday. One of the rooms in the building had been searched, and police confiscated what Biti called “valuable party documents”.

Cquote1.svg …this is the price we now pay for that decision. Cquote2.svg

—Tendai Biti

The secretary-general accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of being behind the raid, wanting the country’s unity government to fail, describing it as “provocation”. “They are behind this attack. Our decision of pulling out of the inclusive government infuriated ZANU-PF and this is the price we now pay for that decision,” he said.

The police have not yet released a statement regarding the raid.

Tsvangirai and his MDC party had pulled out of the coalition government last week, accusing Mugabe’s party of not complying with the unity government deal made last year, and oppressing opponents. Mugabe, however, dismissed the boycott, calling it a “non-event”, and said that his party would not alter its plans or agree to the MDC’s demands.



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October 20, 2009

Zimbabwe cabinet meets without MDC ministers after boycott

Zimbabwe cabinet meets without MDC ministers after boycott

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe led a cabinet meeting on Tuesday without the presence of unity partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was out of the country on a regional tour to appeal for help with mediation. This comes after Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party pulled out of the unity government several days ago, protesting what they called “dishonest and unreliable” behaviour by Mugabe.

Robert Mugabe

Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe state media reported on Tuesday that President Mugabe will not recognise Tsvangirai’s suspension of ties with the government until he is formally informed. The state-owned daily newspaper, The Herald, quoted Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, as saying Tsvangirai is still prime minister and is expected to attend cabinet meetings.

“Government is not run through media statements. In the same way that President Mugabe formally appointed him to the post of Prime Minister he must also communicate any decision to disengage or whatever it is they are calling it, in a formal manner,” Charamba said.

“This can be done orally or in writing but in a formal manner. From that point of view nothing has happened. Until the communication is done formally the president has no reason or any grounds to think or know otherwise,” he said.

Tsvangirai, who “disengaged” from the country’s unity government last week, was accused by the newspaper of traveling without cabinet approval. The leader of the MDC party is on a ten-day trip of Southern African Development Community countries, who helped to negotiate the troubled power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is not due to return to Zimbabwe until sometime next week.

According to The Herald, government officials said that Tsvangirai had attempted to obtain cabinet authority for his trip while en route to the airport, but was told that it was too late to receive it.

However, University of Zimbabwe political science professor John Makumbe said he believed Tsvangirai’s partial withdrawal from the national unity government was long overdue and ZANU-PF’s reaction is mere posturing. “Morgan Tsvangirai has done the right thing, he must light fires and make ZANU-PF run around putting the fires out. What he has been doing to date is agreeing to be treated like a tea-boy, he has been told what to do and he has done it without asking questions,” Makumbe said.

He said that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party couldn’t risk going it alone, as Tsvangirai has a stronger claim to legitimacy as his party won the elections in March 2008.

Ministers from a splinter faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara attended the cabinet meeting. Mutambara, who is one of two deputy prime ministers, said at a news conference on Monday that he was talking to both Mugabe and Tsvangirai. He said the national unity government is Zimbabwe’s only hope of moving forward. “We are determined to give this government a fighting chance because in our mind there is no plan B,” Mutambara said.

Tsvangirai announced last week that his party would not withdraw from the unity government altogether, but would boycott the executive branch whose ministries it shares with the ZANU-PF party. He cited the reluctance of Mugabe to implement matters that had been agreed to in the so-called Global Political Agreement, which brought the national unity government to power.

Among the outstanding issues is the appointment of governors and the alleged harassment of his party members and Members of Parliament. His announcement came two days after agriculture deputy minister designate Roy Bennett was arrested and re-detained on charges of insurgency and terror. Bennett has since been released on bail, but Tsvangirai has said his party will not participate in government until all the issues he raised have been resolved.



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October 19, 2009

Zimababwe Zanu-PF party dismisses Tsvangirai unity boycott

Zimababwe Zanu-PF party dismisses Tsvangirai unity boycott

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Monday, October 19, 2009

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Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF party has said that government business will continue despite the opposition party’s decision to stop working with its unity government partner. A spokesman for president Robert Mugabe dismissed the boycott by the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai as “needless excitement”.

Morgan Tsvangirai (2009)
Image: Harry Wad.

Tsvangirai and his party had pulled out of the coalition government on Friday, saying that Mugabe had been “dishonest and unreliable”.

Spokesman George Charamba said to the Sunday Mail newspaper that “the MDC-T has disengaged from nothing. It’s sound and fury signifying nothing. The MDC-T president knows that. It’s a poor protest,” he said.

Charamba said that Mugabe has been too busy with ceremonial duties to react to Tsvangirai’s boycott. “I suppose the president will find time when the right time comes,” he said.

The Sunday Mail quoted Charamba as saying that a cabinet meeting will go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday and that binding decisions will be made despite the MDC boycott. “As you will certainly see on Tuesday, cabinet will be held. The agenda for the meeting has been circulated and decisions that are binding will be taken. Remember, cabinet does not function through a quorum.”

Cquote1.svg As you will certainly see on Tuesday, cabinet will be held. Cquote2.svg

—George Charamba

Tensions between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and the MDC have been constant since the unity government was formed early this year. Regional leaders pressured the parties to share power after last year’s disputed and violence-plagued elections.

The latest crisis was sparked by the re-detention of Roy Bennett, a white farmer who the MDC has nominated to be deputy minister of agriculture. Bennett is awaiting trial on terrorism charges, and already spent a month in prison earlier this year before being released on bail. The MDC has said that he is innocent.

Tsvangirai said on Friday that if the political crisis escalates further, the only solution would be to hold new elections under international supervision.



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October 16, 2009

Zimbabwe\’s MDC pulls out of unity government

Zimbabwe’s MDC pulls out of unity government

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Friday, October 16, 2009

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Morgan Tsvangirai in June 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the country’s Prime Minister, has pulled out of the coalition government, accusing Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe of being “dishonest and unreliable”.

Tsvangirai and his MDC party said that they would pull out from the government until outstanding issues in a power-sharing agreement between Tsvangirai and Mugabe were resolved. He made the announcement following a crisis meeting that was called after the MDC treasurer general was indicted on charges of terrorism.

Tsvangirai said that “this party, for now, cannot renege on the people’s mandate. However, it is our right to disengage from a dishonest and unreliable partner.”

“In this regard, whilst being in government we shall forthwith disengage from Zanu-PF [Mugabe’s party] and in particular from cabinet and the council of ministers until such time as confidence and respect is restored among us,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, added that the pullout would most likely be only temporary, and that the MDC would still conduct some activities in the parliament. “We are not really pulling out officially,” Tsvangirai said.

A spokesman for the Zanu-PF party responded to Tsvangirai’s move. “If MDC wants to disengage […] we don’t have a problem with that. We were having problems with MDC, working together. We have been trying but it was not easy,” said spokesman Ephraim Masawi.

The former Information and Publicity minister, Jonathan Moyo, who is a member of the Zanu-PF, accused the MDC of acting “childishly”.

The Zimbabwean coalition government was launched eight months ago, after a heavily disputed election that was marred by violence. Tsvangirai obtained a majority of votes in the 2008 presidential elections, but decided to withdraw from a run-off election with Mugabe, claiming that Mugabe had used violence against his supporters. A deal was eventually made, under which Mugabe would retain his post, but Tsvangirai would assume the position of prime minister. Zanu-PF and Mugabe, however, have still been accused of being unwilling to give up their power or to reform.



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February 6, 2009

Zimbabwean parliament passes unity government bill

Zimbabwean parliament passes unity government bill

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Robert Mugabe

The parliament of Zimbabwe has unanimously voted for a constitutional amendment allowing a coalition government to be formed between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Under the bill, Mugabe would remain president of the country, but Tsvangirai would take the office the prime minister. The latter is to be sworn into office on the 11th of February.

The bill, after being endorsed by the House of Assembly, was subsequently taken to the Senate, where it was passed without a single dissenting vote. Mugabe is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.

Tendai Biti, the secretary-general for the MDC, stated that the new coalition government should give hope to the country, saying that “we have no choice other than to give this experiment a try.”

Other people, such as political commentator John Makumbe, however, are wary of the deal. “I think Mugabe’s plan is to compromise them, and I think he is going to play his usual devious games in that new government as well, try to grab all the powers for himself,” Makumbe said.

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Tsvangirai won the presidential election in March of last year, but not by a large enough margin to avoid a run-off election, held in June. Tsvangirai withdrew from those elections, citing state-sponsored attacks against his supporters.

The southern African country has been crippled by several crises recently, not least of which are a cholera epidemic, which has killed 3,323 people, and rampant hyperinflation, which has officially been measured at 231,000,000% per annum. The United Nations has estimated Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate at 94%.



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January 30, 2009

Zimbabwe opposition agrees to join government

Zimbabwe opposition agrees to join government

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Friday, January 30, 2009

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President Mugabe will share control of Zimbabwe’s security forces under the agreement.
Image: Jeremy Lock.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has agreed to join a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe will remain as president, while Tsvangirai is set to be sworn in as prime minister on February 11.

Despite the agreement, Tsvangirai and other MDC members expressed disappointment over the terms of the unity government. “We are not saying that this is a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis,” Tsvangirai told reporters. “Instead, our participation signifies that we have chosen to continue the struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe in a new arena.”

Among the MDC’s concerns is the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police and security forces. Under the power sharing agreement, Mugabe and Tsvangirai will share control of this ministry, and the MDC says Mugabe could use that power to quell dissent as he had in the past.

Tsvangirai signed the agreement to take part in a unity government at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Pretoria, South Africa. Opposition leaders had been pressing Mugabe to relinquish control of the home affairs ministry and release imprisoned political activists as part of the power sharing deal. But Tsvangirai’s party said they were pressured into accepting the deal by the SADC, who refused to condemn Mugabe.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga called on the SADC to stop “treating Mugabe with kid gloves” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We hold the view that SADC could do more in trying to help the people of Zimbabwe resolve the crisis,” said Odinga. “SADC should stand up and tell Mr. Mugabe enough is enough. It is time for him to leave.”

Meanwhile, Western countries such as the United States remained skeptical regarding the prospect of true power sharing. U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington, “If and when there is a government in place in Zimbabwe that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, the United States will then look to see what we can do to continue to help.”

Mugabe claimed victory in a runoff election in June 2008 which was widely seen by the international community as flawed. Earlier in March, Tsvangirai had garnered more votes than Mugabe in the general election, but the electoral commission said the opposition candidate did not receive a required majority of the votes. Tsvangirai then dropped out of the June runoff, claiming his supporters had been attacked and intimidated by state officials.

Regional heads of government have been trying to negotiate a coalition government since the election. Neither side had been able to come to an agreement over the distribution of cabinet posts. Tsvangirai sought a constitutional amendment to recreate the post of Prime Minister, whilst Mugabe had wished to maintain his Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party’s hold on the main offices of state.

In the past year, Zimbabwe’s economy has gone into freefall, with inflation so high as to be effectively unmeasurable, and an outbreak of cholera that has resulted in over 60,000 cases reported and over 3,100 killed. 6.9 million people, more than half the country’s population, is in need of emergency food aid, according to the United Nations.



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October 5, 2008

Zimbabwean unity talks fail

Zimbabwean unity talks fail – Wikinews, the free news source

Zimbabwean unity talks fail

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

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Robert Mugabe
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Talks between Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have failed to reach an agreement on who will be in the unity cabinet.

A power sharing deal was signed approximately three weeks ago, as a way to resolve a crisis that has been ongoing since the elections over three months ago.

Nelson Chamisa, a spokesperson for Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) expressed grave concern over failure to reach a deal. He described it as “a threat to people’s lives”.

“People are dying,” Chamisa said. “The humanitarian response has to be activated and you need a functional government to do that.”

Thabo Mbeki, formerly the president of South Africa has said that he will continue to help secure an agreement between the politicians by mediating the discussion.

In the deal signed three weeks ago it was agreed that Tsvangirai is now the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, acting as the head of the council of ministers. It was also agreed that Mugabe remains the president of Zimbabwe, meaning that he is still the chair of the cabinet.

The proposed cabinet contains sixteen seats from the MDC, while Mugabe’s Zanu-PF has fifteen seats. The MDC also controls the police while Zanu-PF controls the armed forces.

The agreement also requires press freedom in Zimbabwe.



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September 15, 2008

Zimbabwean rivals sign power sharing deal

Zimbabwean rivals sign power sharing deal

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Monday, September 15, 2008

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Robert Mugabe
Image: Jeremy Lock.

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today signed a power sharing deal in the county’s capital, Harare.

Speaking to crowds of people celebrating the deal, Tsvangirai said that “this unity government will let businesses flourish so our people can work and provide for their families with pride.” He also said that “I’ve signed this agreement because I believe it represents the best opportunity for us to build a peaceful and prosperous democratic Zimbabwe.”

Mugabe also spoke after the deal. “Let us be allies,” he said. “People will want to see if what we promise is indeed what we strive to do … We are committed. I am committed. Let us all be committed.”

Despite the agreement, there was some tension at the protest, with supporters of the two parties throwing stones at each other.

The deal means that Tsvangirai is now the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, acting as the head of the council of ministers. Mugabe remains the president of Zimbabwe, meaning that he is still the chair of the cabinet.

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The cabinet contains sixteen seats from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, while Mugabe’s Zanu-PF has fifteen seats. The MDC also controls the police while Zanu-PF controls the armed forces.

The agreement also requires press freedom in Zimbabwe.

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