Mugabe Says There Will Be No Agreement Until Sanctions Go

“References to (RBZ Governor Dr Gideon) Gono, (Attorney-General Mr Johannes) Tomana and (Roy) Bennett is nothing because it has never been part of the agreement,” he was quoted by the state-owned Herald on Saturday. “The reply from Zanu-PF has always been the same: Gono and Tomana have no case to answer while Bennett has a criminal case in the courts.”

“The position is that they cannot be any further concessions from us unless the illegal sanctions are gone,” President Mugabe said.

Bennett, who is facing treason charges, was briefly detained by armed police together with his wife and prevented to go to his house in Chimanimani where they were driving to on Friday. Mugabe has refused to swear in Bennett as deputy minister of Agriculture as recommended by his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, until he is cleared of his charges.

Mugabe’s statement comes a few days before the deadline of March 31 which was given by the mediator South African President Jacob Zuma to resolve all oustanding issues that had been stalling the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) since 2009. Mugabe’s statements are also in sharp contrast to what Zuma had told journalists when he visited Zimbabwe recently to review on the progress of inter-party talks. Zuma said a package of measures had been agreed to by both Zanu PF and the two MDCs which were aimed to resolve outstanding issues.  Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai had described the meeting with Zuma as having gone very well. Zuma also said he would report to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) once all outstanding issues are ironed out and he was confident this was to be done by end of March.

Zuma this week also said that Zimbabwe sanctions were undermining the fragile Zimbabwe coalition government and therefore had to go.

The leader of the main faction of the MDC, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, also this week called on Western countries to drop sanctions and give the inclusive government a chance. However some western nations have already indicated that they are not willing to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe at the moment until human rights abuses are stopped and real democracy returns to the country.

There have been reports of sporadic violence in some parts of the country as well as intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders. Zimrights Director Okay Machisa was this week briefly arrested for organising a photo exhibition showing pictures of the 2008 violence. He was released at the orders of Tsvangirai but has since gone into hiding. Zimrights has since abandoned the exhibition which was supposed to have run for 10 days due to constant harassment from the police. Another leader of a farm workers union, Getrude Hambira has since fled to South Africa after being threatened over a documentary about the plight of farm workers in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe dismissed reports of agreement on re-appointment of provincial governors. “They are just paying lip service to the issue of sanctions and they need to do more. Tomana na Gono hapana kwavanoenda. (Tomana and Gono will not go anywhere) The sanctions must go first,” he was quoted as saying.

Tomana, Zimbabwe’s Attorney General  has been accused by the MDC of coming up with trumped up charges for MDC MPs. Gono is the Reserve Bank Governor. The MDC says the appointment of both men were irregular and were not in the spirit of the GPA. Both men, including Benett also met with Zuma when he was in Zimbabwe. Details of their meeting were not divulged.

Some reports this week said Gono was in trouble with his Zanu PF party for opposing the controversial Indigenisation Law which forces foreign investors to give 51 percent share-holding to indigenous Zimbabweans. The law has seen the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) tumbling and foreign investors with-holding investment. ZSE boss Emmanuel Munyukwi said this week investors had with-held 100 million worth of investments as a result of the Law.

Commenting on the law, Mugabe said: “If there are some of us (in Zanu-PF) who oppose it, then they are backward members of the party.  He described those opposed to the law as having “a backward mentality”.

“There are a lot of companies that are being set up in the country but our people still want to be workers and they have never sought to rise above that and become entrepreneurs. You are not looking at being the owners of the businesses and when you rise to management levels you get blinkered because that is what the owners want you to be. They will continue to be what they have been since 1890, being masters, while you are content to being the chief executive officer.”

“These CEOs will oppose empowerment programmes we are trying to push. They will oppose because they have been conditioned to being below someone.”

He also said the mining sector was still white dominated and this had to change.