25 February 2003

Makoni in favour of ZANU – MDC cooperation

Simba Makoni, the former Minister of Finance and Economic Development and a Zanu PF politburo member, says the ruling party should work hand-in-hand with the opposition MDC towards addressing the worsening economic crisis in the country. In an interview with The Daily News yesterday, Makoni said: "Like in other countries where opposition parties exist, the government of the day works closely with formal opposition parties even though they know that on the political scene they will be trying to topple them. We must work together in addressing national issues. For example, in the health sector no one should be attended to on the basis of which political party that person belongs to." Zanu PF has been accused country-wide of monopolising the distribution of relief food as a political weapon against those perceived as supporters of the opposition. In Kuwadzana and Highfield, where parliamentary by-elections are scheduled for next month, the respective Zanu PF candidates, David Mutasa and Joseph Chinotimba, are allegedly distributing maize-meal and grain from the State monopoly Grain Marketing Board to their supporters only.

On reports that he met with South African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis in the hope of forming a government of national unity, Makoni said: "I did not meet with Mbeki and I do not think I’ll meet him in the near future. "The last time I met him was when I was still a minister. I do not know on what these reports are based on. What I am saying is a country should have a national government mandated by the people of that country to govern it. There is a difference between a government of national unity and a national government." Last week, Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, accused senior Zanu PF officials of secretly meeting with Mbeki in order to clear their names from the worsening crisis in the country. Tsvangirai singled out Makoni, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament, and John Nkomo, Zanu PF’s national chairman and Minister for Special Affairs in the President’s Office, as being among the senior Zanu PF members who had met with Mbeki.

Meanwhile, Business Day of South Africa reported yesterday that Mbeki appears to be gaining ground in his quest for a political settlement in Zimbabwe. The paper claimed that his call for a government of national unity was gaining support from France and key political figures in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. Makoni, tipped by observers as Mugabe’s ideal successor ahead of Mnangagwa, has thrown his weight behind Mbeki’s call, saying only a united Zimbabwe could deal with its severe economic and political problems. The newspaper said Makoni’s statement coincided with a weekend announcement by South Africa that France had agreed to help bring about an inclusive political settlement. This comes in the wake of reports of behind-the-scenes meetings between the opposition Pan-Africanist Congress of South Africa and the MDC, Zimbabwe’s leading opposition party, on ways to end Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis. But Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesman, yesterday dismissed the reports, saying no such meetings took place. "I am unaware of such a development," Nyathi said. "The official party position is that we are not going to accept a government of national unity. We want a transitional government with a short life span and then elections to choose a new leader." (ZWNews / Daily News)

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