Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change — the party of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — is boycotting the country’s unity government, the party’s leader said Friday.
“This is a constitutional crisis,” said Tsvangirai as he railed against President Robert Mugabe’s party. “ZanuPF [Mugabe’s party] cannot run government alone constitutionally and legally.” Tsvangirai said his party will not attend cabinet meetings and the prime minister has also boycotted his meetings with Mugabe which occur every Monday. The party is not completely pulling out of the government, Tsvangirai said. “Why have we decided not to pull out Because the people of Zimbabwe want real change and that is our obligation. If that time to pull out comes, it will be that time, not now,” Tsvangirai said. Tsvangirai did not explain the apparent contradiction between boycotting the government and pulling out of it. The relationship between the two parties has been tenuous since the power-sharing deal, which had been brokered by the regional Southern African Development Community after a hotly disputed election won by Mugabe last year. The last straw may have been the re-arrest of MDC party member Roy Bennett this week. Bennett was arrested on February 13 — just before he was to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister in the new power-sharing government. Then he was jailed again Wednesday after a pre-trial court hearing. He faces charges of possessing weapons for sabotage, banditry and terrorism. Initially he had been charged with treason. Tsvangirai had in the past railed against the arrest and the delay in swearing in Bennett. “The delay which is taking place for his swearing in is deliberate to frustrate him, to frustrate our constituency, to send the message — look we can do this we can do this unilaterally and that is what we are trying to oppose,” Tsvangirai has said.