WASHINGTON DC —
Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been told by government officials to vacate the multi-million dollar Harare state mansion he has been occupying following the resounding victory of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party in the July 31 general election.
This comes at a time when the Zanu-PF government has written letters to more than 50 employees who were working in the former prime minister’s office that they are being laid off.
A senior government official told VOA Studio 7 they are evicting Tsvangirai as he does not recognize the ruling Zanu-PF government.
According to MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, some junior officials from the Ministry of Local Government and other departments visited Tsvangirai’s residence this week and told him to leave.
Mwonzora said the former prime minister has not yet received a formal eviction notice from President Mugabe and senior state officials.
He said the move is meant to humiliate Tsvangirai whose party performed below expectations in the July elections which gave Zanu-PF the power to form a new government and change the new constitution.
“They are sending junior officers to try and humiliate Morgan Tsvangirai. But we say no to that because even (late Rhodesian prime minister) Ian Smith was given his pension by the Zimbabwe government of Robert Mugabe. So, if they could honour Ian Smith by giving him his benefits, why are they not doing the same to Morgan Tsvangirai,” said Mwonzora.
There have been reports indicating that some hardliners in the ruling party do not even want the former prime minister to purchase the house, saying he should first push for the removal of sanctions imposed by the West on President Mugabe and his inner circle before striking any deal with the new government.
Tsvangirai has shown interest in purchasing the $2.5 million Highlands mansion though some insiders say it may be difficult for him to raise money to buy it since he does not have any state benefits.
Mwonzora further said, “We also know that they have sent letters to all the civil servants who were working in the prime minister’s office notifying them that they were being laid off. These are illegal retrenchments and these workers are being victimized simply because they worked for the prime minister’s office.”
He said those who were working in the deputy prime minister’s office are also being retrenched by the government.
In a related development, the United States says it will maintain sanctions on President Mugabe and his colleagues.
In a live-state teleconference with international media Thursday, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, Linda Thomas Greenfield, said the U.S is ready to add some names to its sanctions list.
The United States says the recent elections in Zimbabwe were not free and fair.
At the same time, Zanu-PF says it has disengaged from approaching the West, which imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe, to seek the removal of the sanctions.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken a hard stance on western nations, noting that the U.S, Britain, European Union and others should instead re-engage the country’s ruling party for any talks designed to thaw relations between the Zanu-PF government and these nations.
The EU removed the targeted sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and most Zanu-PF officials this year, save for President Mugabe and nine others.
The sanctions were imposed on the president, his inner circle and some firms linked to Zanu-PF following disputed elections in 2001.