By Nangayi Guyson – Harare – Reuters- Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe of violating the constitution and unilateral decision-making. Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party refused to recognise a string of senior appointments made by President Robert Mugabe, in a fresh row set to strain their fragile coalition.
Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing administration with bitter rival Mugabe last year after disputed 2008 elections, and briefly led his party in a boycott of the cabinet last October citing frustrations in implementing the unity pact.
Under their coalition deal, the two politicians agreed to draw up a new constitution followed by a referendum and then fresh elections.
Addressing journalists after a meeting of his party’s top executives, Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of breaching the power-sharing agreement and the constitution in making senior government positions without consulting him.
But he said he would not quit the unity government.
“We will refuse to recognise any of the appointments which the president has made illegally and unconstitutionally over the past 18 months,” Tsvangirai said.
“I have defended President Robert Mugabe at my own cost politically. But neither I nor the MDC can stand back any longer and just allow President Mugabe and the Zanu-PF to defy the law, to flaunt the constitution, and to act as if they own this country,” he said.
The MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) leader also accused the president of refusing to swear in white farmer Roy Bennett, the prime minister’s choice for the post of deputy agriculture minister.
“He (Mugabe) confirmed to me and Mutambara on Monday that he has no intention of ever swearing in Roy. The matter of Roy Bennett has now become a personal vendetta and part of a racist agenda,” Tsvangirai said.
The two parties have also been wrangling over sanctions imposed by Western governments on Mugabe and his inner circle as well as the president’s refusal to appoint farmer Roy Bennett, a senior Tsvangiral ally who was recently acquitted of treason, as deputy minister of agriculture.
However, the disputed appointments include the central bank governor, attorney general, five High Court and Supreme Court judges, six ambassadors, the police service commission and 10 provincial governors, who were re-appointed last week.
Despite the seniority of the disputed appointments, analysts said the move was largely symbolic and would not affect the operations of the unity government, which has helped stabilise an economy hit by hyperinflation around two years ago.
Tsvangirai appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc, which brokered Zimbabwe’s power-sharing pact and is mediating in conflict between the coalition partners, to intervene in the latest stand-off.
“It is nothing short of a constitutional crisis, which is why I have urged the SADC to intervene as a matter of urgency,” Tsvangirai said.
Neither President Mugabe nor his Zanu-PF have publicly responded to Mr Tsvangirai’s comments.