Mugabe rival unable to attend crisis talks
Zimbabwe opposition said Monday its leader will not attend talks outside on the country's political crisis in Swaziland because President Robert Mugabe had prevented him getting necessary travel documents in time, reports CNN.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai addresses supporters at a rally in Masvingo, Zimbabwe on Sunday.
A spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change said Morgan Tsvangirai was unable to travel to to Monday's talks because he did not have a South African visa.
"And, we too, the negotiators, cannot travel to Swaziland without our principal," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said at a news conference in Johannesburg.
Biti said Tsvangirai, who is without a passport, received emergency travel documents too late Sunday to travel through South Africa to Swaziland, where African leaders are meeting to break a stalemate between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC.
ZANU-PF spokesman Bright Matonga said Tsvangirai's failure to attend reflected his lack of commitment to the talks aimed at resolving months of political unrest in the wake of disputed presidential elections on March.
"It shows the world who is not interested in having the stalemate addressed," he said. "He had a document to (allow) him (to) travel legally and safely to Swaziland but he chose to not to go."
MDC said Tsvangirai has applied for a passport but Zimbabwean authorities refuse to issue him one.
"We apologize to President Mswati (of Swaziland) who is waiting for us, but the real apology should be coming from Robert Mugabe who is imprisoning our president and who is imprisoning the people of Zimbabwe, who wanted a solution yesterday," he said.
He said Tsvangirai's absence does not indicate that the party is not committed to the talks.
South African President Thabo Mbeki failed last week to break an impasse between the ZANU-PF and the MDC over which party would control key government ministries, prompting calls for Monday's talks.
Mugabe retained his office under the deal, Tsvangirai was to be prime minister and Arthur Mutambara, an MDC faction leader, was to be his deputy. The deal will not take effect until parliament amends the constitution to allow it.
"And the real problem in Zimbabwe is that despite the execution of the global political agreement on the 15th of September, there is no paradigm, no reality check on the part of ZANU-PF," Biti said.
"There is no readiness on the part of ZANU-PF to engage in a cooperative government with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC."
The power-sharing agreement was to end months of turmoil and violence that followed the country's March presidential elections. Tsvangirai garnered the most votes in March but did not win enough to avoid a runoff with Mugabe, who has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.
The MDC leader withdrew days before the June 27 runoff with Mugabe, alleging that Mugabe's supporters had waged a campaign of violence and intimidation against opposition supporters. He said he could not participate in the election, which he condemned as a "sham."