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EU Official Voices Concern Over Appointments by Zimbabwe President Mugabe

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has written to EU President Jose Manuel Baroso informing him of his position that the appointment of Zimbabwean ambassador to Brussels Margaret Muchada was unilateral thus 'null and void'

The European Union on Wednesday expressed "great concern" over unilateral appointments by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a crisis mediation team sent by South African President Jacob Zuma arrived in Harare.

Mr. Tsvangirai wrote this week to EU president Jose Manuel Baroso informing him of his position that the appointment of Zimbabwean Ambassador to Brussels Margaret Muchada - like those of Zimbabwe's ambassadors to the United Nations and four countries - was “null and void’ because Mr. Mugabe named her without consultations.

Mr Tsvangirai told reporters last week that his party will refuse to recognize appointments which the president made without consulting his partners in the national unity government in place since February 2009.

Such appointments include that of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, re-appointed by the president in November 2008, Attorney General Johannes Tomana, appointed in December 2008, five judges named this May, and the six ambassadors, appointed in July. The status of 10 re-appointed provincial governors is also in dispute.

A spokeswoman for European Union diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton told Agence France Presse that “it is important that the ambassadors be fully empowered to speak on behalf of the whole government.”

The European Union supports the Global Political Agreement, the spokeswoman said. "Non-respect is therefore a matter of great concern." She added: "This is a serious matter that demands clarification."

South African President Zuma’s envoys arrived in Harare late Wednesday and were to meet President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara separately in the evening.

Mr. Tsvangirai on Wednesday shunned a meeting of the Cabinet as his party had indicated he would, signaling the seriousness of the breach in the government. He assumed his harder-line stance vis à vis Mr. Mugabe just as the constitutional revision process that is one of the key tasks of the transitional unity government appeared to be at risk of derailing following the disruption of public meetings by alleged militants of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera told VOA that that Mr Zuma’s chances of resolving the dispute are very slim. But commentator Mandlenkosi Gatsheni says the premier's tougher stance may yield some results.

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