Mugabe to form government without opposition: Report

January 3rd, 2009 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, Jan 3 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has hinted that he will soon form a government even if the country’s opposition leader does not become part of it, a state-run newspaper reported Saturday.The Herald reported that Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is ready to form a coalition with a splinter group of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Such a move would be in defiance of the mainstream MDC’s opposition to a coalition.

In a Dec 31 letter from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to Mugabe, quoted by the daily Herald, Tsvangirai cited a list of issues which must be addressed before a power-sharing deal reached in September can be implemented.

According to the paper, Tsvangirai continues to object to forming a coalition with the Zanu-PF so long as Mugabe’s party insists on taking control of all vital ministries, such as information, home affairs, local government, foreign affairs and defence.

“Despite Tsvangirai’s letter, The Herald is reliably informed that Zanu-PF and MDC are moving ahead with finalising the formation of the envisaged inclusive Government,” the Saturday edition of the Herald says, referring to a splinter MDC group led by Arthur Mutambara.

Additionally, Mugabe has reportedly cut the salaries and benefits of ministers who lost their parliamentary seats in Zimbabwe’s March 2008 election, another sign that he might be planning to form a new government with new faces.

According to the Herald, Zimbabwe’s chief secretary to the president and cabinet, Misheck Sibanda wrote to the affected 12 ministers informing them of the terminations.

Zimbabwe has not had a government since the 2008 election, in which Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party lost its majority in parliament to the MDC. It was the first time since independence 28 years ago that the Zanu-PF failed to attain a parliamentary majority.

The once-prosperous nation is experiencing its worst economic and financial crisis since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1980.

A cholera epidemic is raging and has claimed more than 1,500 lives. The waterborne disease has affected more than 20,000 people since its outbreak in August last year.

Additionally, the UN says more than five million people are in dire need of food aid. The country also faces acute shortages of all essentials, ranging from fuel, electricity, food, cash and foreign currency.

Those shortages have forced prices to rise to unattainable levels. That problem is exacerbated by inflation in Zimbabwe, which officially stood at 231 million percent as of July 2008.

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