Zimbabwean Attorney General Johannes Tomana on Wednesday distanced himself from reports he is establishing a commission to probe information revealed in US diplomatic cables from Harare to Washington that political opponents of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have charged showed he engaged in treasonous activities.
So far the fallout from Wikileaks disclosures concerning Zimbabwe has been limited, but a more formal inquiry could create legal complications for Mr. Tsvangirai, who in 2004 was acquitted of treason in an alleged plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
Mr. Tsvangirai is likely to challenge Mr. Mugabe in the next presidential election, which depending on circumstances could be held late this year or early next.
Tomana told VOA that only the president can set up such a commission of inquiry.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper, generally considered a mouthpiece for President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, had reported that Tomana would unveil a commission of inquiry to probe Mr Tsvangirai's ties to a former US ambassador.
Party hardliners led by ZANU-PF Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, politiburo member Jonathan Moyo and Mashonaland Central Governor Martin Dinha have called for Mr Tsvangirai’s prosecution for treason for allegedly conspiring with Washington to unseat Mr. Mugabe.
The ZANU-PF functionaries have seized on cables published digitally by Wikileaks that showed former US Ambassador Christopher Dell envisioning regime change in Harare. ”We need to keep the pressure on to keep Mugabe off his game and on his back foot, relying on his own shortcomings to do him in,” the cable showed Dell writing.
Mr Tsvangirai has dismissed what he says ZANU-PF partisans calling for his resignation and prosecution over the contents of the leaked cables, characterizing them as "barbarians" who "should have their heads examined."
National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku told reporter Blessing Zulu that only Mr Mugabe has the powers to appoint a special commission.
Madhuku said the Wikileaks information has lent credence to Mr. Mugabe's often-repeated charge that Mr. Tsvangirai is a servant of Western interests.