The crisis in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government sharpened Wednesday as a minister of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said Mr. Mugabe might name acting ministers to sit in for those of the Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who have been boycotting cabinet meetings since Oct. 16.
Information Minister Webster Shamu issued the threat through the pro-ZANU-PF state-run Herald newspaper, saying the MDC was undermining government operations.
Mr. Tsvangirai announced on Oct. 16 that his party was disengaging from ZANU-PF though it was not exiting the unity government, to protest alleged ZANU-PF violations of the 2008 Global Political Agreement that laid the foundation for the power-sharing government.
The move followed the indictment and re-arrest on terrorism charges of Senator Roy Bennett of the MDC formation.The threat to name acting ministers came on the eve of a ministerial-level Harare meeting of the Southern African Development Community’s troika for politics and security sought by Mr. Tsvangirai to resolve long-standing internal tensions.
SADC spokesperson Leefa Martin confirmed the meeting. She said it is a routine six-month review of the GPA due in September that was postponed by a SADC summit at that time.
Analysts said the SADC ministers will have their hands full. The MDC is demanding ZANU-PF implement the GPA in full before it will agree to resume full government participation.
But former deputy information minister Bright Matonga, a ZANU-PF lawmaker, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the former ruling party will make no further concessions to the MDC until Western targeted sanctions have been lifted.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Tsvangirai MDC, said that to name acting ministers to replace those of the MDC would be unconstitutional.
London-based political analyst Msekiwa Makwanya said ZANU-PF could face a crisis of legitimacy if were to follow through on its threat.
Elsewhere, Mr. Tsvangirai met with members of the Harare diplomatic corps and briefed them on the crisis in the government.
Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to Mr. Tsvangirai's office, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the prime minister told the diplomats that ZANU-PF has been repudiating the letter and the spirit of the Global Political Agreement.