Mugabe, Tsvangirai Say Zimbabwe Unity Govt Working

Mugabe, who struck a conciliatory note and joked with reporters, had heavily criticised his rivals at a weekend conference of his Zanu (PF) party where he called for a vote to dissolve the coalition.

The two rivals and Arthur Mutambara, who leads a splinter Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, were forced into a coalition last year but the union has been rocked by problems over power-sharing from the start.

“We are from different political parties and we go for each other at a political level. We have differences but let it not be said because of that, we are dysfunctional,” Mugabe told journalists at a regular end-of-year news conference, flanked by Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

“What we would want to get to people is our voice and command that there should be no violence, but that does not mean that everybody will listen to us. You (media) play a major role, please play that role by preaching peace, peace,” Mugabe said.

Tsvangirai, who has accused Mugabe of unilateral government decisions, said the unity administration would not disintegrate.

“The unity government has not collapsed and it will not collapse until an election is conducted to the satisfaction of all,” he said, while Mugabe nodded in agreement.

Analysts said Zanu (PF) may feel it has a chance to win an early poll due to infighting in the MDC, which is struggling to maintain the gains it made in Zanu (PF) rural strongholds in 2008.

The unity government is credited with stabilising an economy crushed by hyperinflation about two years ago and reducing political violence.

But critics say Mugabe, 86 and in power for three decades, is stalling on the critical media, electoral and security reforms needed for a free and fair vote. Reuters