Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Clash as Korean Deal Cancelled

Published on Thursday 10th June 2010

A fresh turf war has emerged between Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after the veteran ruler reversed a bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) signed by his former rival.

Mr Tsvangirai who joined President Mugabe in a unity government in February last year ending a long and bitter political struggle signed the BIPPA during a visit to Seoul recently where he was also given an honorary degree by a Korean university.

The Koreans had expressed a strong desire to participate in Zimbabwe's reconstruction and the agreement would have ensured the Asian country's investments were protected.

But in a move that is set to embarrass Mr Tsvangirai and fuel further divisions in the troubled coalition, Mr George Charamba, the presidential spokesman revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since written to the South Koreans to tell them the agreement was "null and void."Their embassy has been informed of the constitutional position and indications are that they have since communicated to Seoul," the state controlled Herald newspaper quoted a Foreign Affairs official as saying.

"We don't anticipate any problems with Korea on the matter because we have always had cordial ties. "They were just not aware that the PM did not have authority to do what he did.

"We are good friends with Korea but we simply do not have a BIPPA with them, we do not even have a Joint Commission and that is the starting point."

Mr Charamba said only President Mugabe after consulting cabinet could bind Zimbabwe to another country through a BIPPA. "It is absurd, to say the least. Anyway, as far as I know and I have checked, the President never made any such delegation so in effect no BIPPA was signed in Korea," he told the Herald.

"Maybe it was the mock signing ceremony of a BIPPA that might be signed in the future by those constitutionally delegated to do so."

Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have in the past clashed over roles in the unity government whose urgent reform agenda has been stalled by the endless squabbles. The latest clash exploded as the three principals in the inclusive government - Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara met for the first to consider a report compiled by their party negotiators with assistance from facilitators appointed by South African President Jacob Zuma.

The three had not met since April 6 when the report was handed to them and this had paralysed the negotiations.

Mr Zuma needs the leaders' input before taking the matter to the Southern African Development Community, the guarantors of the agreement.

Meanwhile, at least 16 white farmers in Zimbabwe have come under attack over the last week, including several South African nationals and a farm owned by Malaysian investors, the farmers' union said today.

The attackers were trying to evict them, although many of the farmers have court orders allowing them to stay on their land, while one is protected under an investment pact with Malaysia, the mainly white Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said. "The Commercial Farmers Union is gravely concerned with the recent harassment of productive farms and the failure of the police to render assistance in spite of high court orders for farmers to remain in occupation," CFU vice president Charles Taffs told a news conference.

"We are concerned that a time Zimbabwe wishes to re-engage with the international community and encourage investment that these breaches of the rule law will drive Zimbabwe into further isolation."



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