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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Tsvangirai Blames Ruling Party For Talks Stalemate

The founding president of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change has accused the ruling ZANU-PF of backtracking on critical points agreed within the crisis resolution process launched last March by the Southern African Development Community and mediated since then by South African president Thabo Mbeki.

In a New Year's message, MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai said if the deadlock which has developed in the talks is not resolved, options for the opposition include a national strike and demonstrations to "pull the nation out of (its) deep hole."

Tsvangirai in his statement and an interview with VOA said President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF had selectively applied agreements reached in the negotiations.

He said Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF leaders have been stringing the opposition along while selectively taking points of agreement and " “shoving them onto Zimbabwe in a piecemeal manner to present a picture of reform, at home and in SADC.”

Tsvangirai charged that the ruling party wanted to "mislead SADC into believing that a lasting solution was on the cards" while pushing ahead with March elections based on cosmetic reforms "and still rig the outcome through a flawed process."

He also took a swipe at Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, who has presided over a severe cash shortage in the economy and financial system in recent days, urging that Gono be confronted if the shortages of bank notes continued.

“The national payment system and the banking and finance sector shall continue to over-heat as long as our economy drifts further into an artificial, haphazard and informal status,” Tsvangirai said. The little which workers manage to earn is locked up in banks and building societies, and the "entire nation has been criminalized."

"Chief executives of reputable companies, community leaders, senior academics and members of the clergy, together with ordinary people, have to wade through all kinds of state-sponsored mischief and regulations to subsist,” Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZANU-PF’s uncompromising stance is responsible for stalling the talks.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...