Zimbabwe change moving at ‘glacier pace’

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party bemoaned the slow pace of change in Zimbabwe’s fledgling coalition on Sunday, calling for the central bank chief and attorney general to quit immediately.

In resolutions at the end of its annual conference, the Movement for Democratic Change also called for a regional summit to resolve differences dogging the unity government between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.The MDC has long criticised Mugabe’s decision to retain central bank chief Gideon Gono and attorney-general Johannes Tomana but Tsvangirai tried to take the heat out of the issue last week when he said their future should be decided by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc.

However in the resolutions, the MDC said both men should go immediately.

“Aware of the conflict and divisive effect of the issues … conference calls that in the national interest Johannes Tomana and Gideon Gono resign forthwith,” the MDC said in resolutions read by secretary-general Tendai Biti, who is also Zimbabwe’s finance minister.

Tsvangirai encountered tough resistance within the MDC about entering a power-sharing deal with Mugabe in February and the resolution made clear the party is unhappy about what it sees as a lack of reform and continued intimidation of its supporters by pro-Mugabe militias.

The party said the government must address “the slow pace of media reforms, slow implementation of the government 100-day plan, continued deployment of the military in villages and the existence of militia and ghost workers on the government payroll.”

The prime minister sought to reassure his supporters at the end of the conference saying he had not abandoned the party’s objectives.

“The transitional government, which is a coalition government is a stepping stone to a new and democratic Zimbabwe,” he said but expressing disappoitment at delays in implementing the coalition agreement.

“We are disappointed at the pace of the implementation of some of the issues in the global political agreement.

“The party’s agenda must not be diluted by the government’s agenda. We must also acknowledge that in a marriage like this there are likely to be compromises but we must not demobilise saying ‘we have arrived.’ We must continue to streng our party structures in preparations for elections.”

The MDC is particularly keen to see the back of Gono, who has been widely criticised for failing to stop the Zimbabwean economy’s freefall and slide into world record inflation.

Tomana is also accused of having overseen politically-inspired prosecutions in the aftermath of last year’s disputed presidential election.

Tsvangirai won the first round of voting in March last year but pulled out of a run-off after scores of MDC were killed in attacks the party blamed on Mugabe’s followers.

The conference also called on the inclusive government to support victims of political violence.

“Concerned with the plight of victims of political violence … conference resolves that the inclusive government vigilantly addresses the issue of the welfare of victims,” the party said.



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