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ZANU-PF Ministers Boycott Zimbabwe PM's Meeting on Empowerment Law


The ZANU-PF ministers say they snubbed the meeting because Mr. Tsvangirai was trying to usurp President Mugabe's powers by convening what they are saying was a mini-cabinet meeting in the absence of their boss, who is reported to be in Singapore for a private visit

Tensions are rising in Zimbabwe's coalition government following a boycott Tuesday of a meeting called by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss the country's controversial black empowerment law.

ZANU-PF ministers boycotted the meeting prompting Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change formation to accuse them of intransigence and trying to force early elections by making the unity government dysfunctional.

The ZANU-PF ministers say they snubbed the meeting because Mr. Tsvangirai was trying to usurp President Mugabe's powers by convening what they are saying was a mini-cabinet meeting in the absence of their boss, who is reported to be in Singapore for a private visit.

Traditionally cabinet meeting are held every Tuesday with Mr. Mugabe and no-one else in the chair, a situation sources say riles Mr. Tsvangirai and his party.

According to MDC officials, Mr. Tsvangirai called a meeting to discuss the country’s economic empowerment program so all parties can agree and speak with one voice on the issue.

The Prime Minister's office insists Mr. Tsvangirai called the meeting of the council of ministers and not cabinet, adding he will be taking the matter with Mr. Mugabe when he returns next week.

The meeting, according to a letter sent to all ministers from the Prime Minister’s Office, was set to discuss and come up with one government position regarding the implementation of the empowerment policy.

The letter states that the indigenization policy has invariably affected delivery in 14 other ministries hence the need for clarity.

The meeting, reads the letter, was called for the “proper co-ordinating of messages” about indigenization.

The Tsvangirai MDC is accusing ZANU-PF of breaking the law by nationalizing firms, threatening to seize assets from targeted companies without paying for shares as spelt out in the Indigenization Act.

Tsvangirai spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka tells VOA's Blessing Zulu that the three principals will meet when Mr. Mugabe returns next week to discuss the stalemate.

Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere says he is not backing down and will not change the way he has been implementing the indigenization policy even as choruses for change continue to grow from the MDC formations and civil groups.

Lawyer and political analyst Jeremiah Bamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says the meeting between Messrs Mugabe and Tsvangirai will not unblock the political logjam affecting the unity government.

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