18 December 2008

Zimbabwe: MDC Decries Appointment of Johannes Tomana As Attorney-General

The MDC on Thursday reacted with anger and disgust at the news that a 'blue-eyed boy' of the regime, Johannes Tomana, has been appointed as the new Attorney-General by Robert Mugabe.

Tomana was sworn into office on Wednesday. He takes over as the country's chief prosecutor from Justice Bharat Patel, who was the acting AG following the unceremonial dismissal of Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, whose dismissal was linked to ZANU-PF in-fighting.

The new AG makes no apology for his support of ZANU-PF and in June, in his capacity as deputy AG, advised the government that it was legal to detain MDC supporters without trial.

'The appointment of Johannes Tomana as the new Attorney-General by the ZANU PF leader adds to the growing list of evidence of insincerity on the part of ZANU PF in implementing the Global Political Agreement,' MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in statement.

The MDC said it strongly believes that ZANU PF's latest act flies in the face of the new spirit of national engagement which should guide the operations and actions of each of the three political parties that are signatories to the GPA.

Tomana's appointment comes barely a month after the caretaker regime renewed the term of office of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono. Chamisa said the unilateral appointment of a new AG was another desperate attempt by Mugabe to weaken the power of the judiciary by appointing blue-eyed boys to such an important national job.

All senior government appointments, according to the GPA signed between the three main political parties on the 11th September 2008, are only supposed to be made following a mutual agreement between the President and Prime Minister.

'Senior appointments of police officers have also been made and the MDC is worried by ZANU PF's lack of insincerity. As a result, the continued disregard of the provisions of the agreement by ZANU PF shows that they are grandstanding on the issue of the inclusive government,' the MDC statement said.

It added; 'The abductions of MDC and civic activists, the promotion of senior police officers to Commissioners, the continued denial of a passport to the Prime Minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai showcase the gross insincerity on the part of Zanu PF. They are not sincere. They are politicking. They are taking the people of Zimbabwe, the African Union and SADC for big ride.'

The MDC has meanwhile scoffed at reports that Mugabe has officially appointed Tsvangirai as the country's Prime Minister.

The NewZimbabwe.com website quoted an unnamed government source saying a letter of Tsvangirai's appointment was delivered to his MDC party's office sometime on Wednesday.

Senior party officials contacted by Newsreel all denied ever seeing any communication to that effect. Tsvangirai also denied receiving such a letter, according to Hebson Makuvise, the MDC chief representative in the UK.

Reports of Mugabe's move to appoint Tsvangirai as Prime Minister came just hours after South African President Kgalema Motlanthe who chairs the Southern African Development Community said he expected a stalled power sharing agreement between Mugabe and his MDC rivals to be implemented this week.

A draft constitutional amendment was published in an official gazette last Saturday, paving the way for a unity government by creating the post of Prime Minister for Tsvangirai. The draft gives Mugabe power to swear-in Tsvangirai before the amendment is passed by parliament, and Motlanthe said on Wednesday he expected the Prime Minister to be sworn-in 'with immediate effect.'

Despite reports of Tsvangirai being under 'tremendous pressure' from the African Union and SADC to join a unity government, the MDC reiterated it would not join a new government until unresolved power-sharing issues were ironed out.

There are outstanding issues such as the issue of governors, equity and allocation of key ministries which have to be addressed and Tsvangirai has vowed that unless those issues are resolved, no amount of pressure against him would force the MDC to jump into the new government.

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