Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday issued a litany of complaints about his partner in government, President Robert Mugabe, accusing him of insincerity and violating the country’s constitution at will to suit himself and his ZANU-PF party.
Tsvangirai reiterated that Mr. Mugabe could not unilaterally call elections this year as the 88-year-old president has been threatening to do, but that the national unity government in power for just over three years had to first complete an agenda of reforms.
Addressing a news conference in Harare, Mr. Tsvangirai again took exception at Mr. Mugabe's reappointment of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, who has made no secret of his backing for Mr. Mugabe and disrespect for Mr. Tsvangirai.
Mr. Tsvangirai said he had discussed Chihuri's re-appointment with President Mugabe in good faith recently and emerged from that meeting to announce that Chihuri would serve only in an acting capacity until further notice. But Mr. Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, quickly announced that Mr. Mugabe had made no such undertaking.
“We have a President who indicates left and turns right," Mr. Tsvangirai said. "He has undermined our collective position and agreement as principals, while he directs his functionaries to execute directives that are at variance with our common position."
Mr. Tsvangirai demanded: "The question is, can the real Mugabe stand up?”
The prime minister said his formation of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change would not recognize Chihuri’s reappointment.
He told reporters that he recently met the two co-ministers of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi of ZANU-PF and Theresa Makone of his own MDC formation, to ensure that the Police Services Commission was regularized. The co-ministers assured him that work was in progress to shortlist candidates to occupy positions in the commission.
Mr. Tsvangirai also accused some unnamed ZANU-PF ministers of stalling democratic reforms that he said were indispensable to holding free and fair elections.
Asked if he would take part in elections before all reforms were implemented, the prime minister said his party would make a decision when the right time comes. But he said his MDC formation is still pushing for major reforms before any new elections.
Responding to Mr. Tsvangirai’s charge that President Mugabe is intransigent, ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the prime minister spoke in the wrong forum.
Political analyst Trevor Maisiri said Mr. Tsvangirai must take his concerns to the Southern African Development Community, a guarantor of power-sharing.
Meanwhile, Chihuri has threatened to deal ruthlessly with anyone seeking to overthrow the government through mass protests. He told a police academy graduation ceremony that a small opposition is planning to stage an Egyptian style revolution, describing the allegedly planned demonstrations as "witchcraft." He warned that police were ready to sacrifice and die for their country to stop any such uprisings.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika said Chihuri’s threats were arrogant and disturbing and illustrate why pro-democracy forces want him removed.