Jolt to power-sharing pact in Zimbabwe

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said his MDC party has “disengaged” from the unity government after the jailing of a senior official.

He said the MDC would not continue working with President Robert Mugabe’s party until all outstanding issues of a power-sharing deal had been dealt with.

Roy Bennett, nominated

by his party as deputy

agriculture minister, was jailed this week to face

terrorism charges.

It showed Zanu-PF to be

an “unreliable” partner, Tsvangirai said.

“It has brought home the reality that as a movement we have an unreliable and unrepentant partner in the transitional government,” AFP quotes him as saying.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to share power in February after disputed elections last year marred by violence.

But since then their parties have failed to agree on appointees for provincial governors, the central bank governor and the attorney general.

The Movement for Democratic Change also accuses Zanu-PF of persecuting its legislators and activists.

Zimbabwean journalist

Brian Hungwe said the MDC was not yet pulling out of

the coalition government

and was open to talks to break the impasse.

But the prime minister also accused Zanu-PF of beginning to set up militia bases in the countryside, and militarising state institutions ahead of future elections.

Tsvangirai said the MDC was officially pulling out

of cabinet and council of

ministers meetings as well

as routine Monday meetings between the leaders of the three parties in the national unity government.

“Until confidence has been restored, we can’t continue to pretend that everything is well,” AP news agency quotes Mr Tsvangirai as saying. The announcement is a sign of deal under intense stress - but in itself it may not make much difference to the operation of Zimbabwe’s government.

Bennett is due to stand

trial on 19 October on charges of terrorism, insurgency,

sabotage and banditry. If

convicted he faces a life

jail term.”He is not being prosecuted,but persecuted,” Mr Tsvangirai said.