MDC boycotts Swazi talks, calls for full regional summit on Zimbabwe

Other News Materials 20 October 2008 15:24 (UTC +04:00)

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Monday its leader Morgan Tsvangirai would not travel to Swaziland for a regional security meeting on the impasse in Zimbabwe and demanded instead a full regional crisis summit on the issuem, reported dpa.

Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe were expected in Swaziland on Monday to explain the breakdown in their talks on the formation of a unity government to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika on security, chaired by Swazi King Mswati III.

Angola and Tanzania are the other members of the troika.

Addressing a press conference in Johannesburg, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said Tsvangirai was unable to travel to Swaziland because he did not have the necessary travel documents.

But Biti also made clear that, even if Tsvangirai had the documents, he would not participate in the meeting and that the party was demanding an extraordinary summit of all 15 SADC members instead to try to resolve the impasse.

"I think it (the Swazi summit) is over," Biti conceded.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki had been due to report back at the summit on his failure to break the deadlock between the MDC and Mugabe's Zanu-PF party on the distribution of ministries in a 31-member cabinet.

Four days of talks in Harare brokered by Mbeki failed to yield agreement on which party should gain which ministry, with the MDC accusing Mugabe of trying to hold onto the important portfolios.

A senior MDC source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa the party had received word that Mbeki's report on the talks was "very negative" about the MDC and that the party did not want to be bullied into accepting a junior partnership.

Sounding pessimistic about the prospects for a breakthrough, Biti said: "Zanu-PF is not ready for a cooperative government."

"It is like there is an invisible brick wall between us and Robert Mugabe," he said, recalling that the MDC had a mandate to govern after winning the last parliamentary elections in March.

Calling for full SADC intervention to expedite the implementation of the September 15 power-sharing deal signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara, Biti said he believed: "Everyone in SADC wants Zimbabwe to work."

The African Union was also standing by to intervene if SADC intervention failed, he said.

"We have spoken to the AU and they are very eager to intervene in this matter."

Tsvangirai has been waiting since July for the Zimbabwean authorities to reissue him with a passport.

The government did grant him an emergency travel document for three days to go to Swaziland but he also needed - and did not obtain on time - a South African visa to travel through that country en route. dpa cb bve