Zimbabwe mediator Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman said Sunday that the ousted former South African president is heading to Harare in a bid to resurrect power-sharing talks.
Talks on implementing a stalled September 15 agreement were branded dead in the water Sunday by opposition leaders soured by President Robert Mugabe’s weekend decision to award key posts to his ruling party.
However, Mbeki will seek to hold discussions Monday with each of the three parties which signed up to the power-sharing accord.
“Mr Mbeki is travelling to Zimbabwe tomorrow (Monday). The allocation of the ministries and all other issues will be discussed in Harare when he meets that country’s political leaders,” his spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga told AFP Sunday.
Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for the main Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change, made a passionate appeal to Mbeki and the 15-member regional bloc Southern African Development Community that appointed him to help resolve the latest crisis.
“Mr Mbeki, please help Zimbabwe. We need your help. We also need the help of and support of the SADC,” Chamisa told SA FM radio.
In power since Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from Britain, Mugabe’s decision, announced Saturday, to award defence, home and justice ministry portfolios to his ZANU-PF ruling party means he would retain control of the army, police and other state security apparatus.
“It kills the talks completely,” Chamisa said. “This flies in the face of the dialogue and an attempt by the SADC to help us out of this crisis. Clearly, it is an act in bad faith,” Chamisa added.
The spokesman said that the move was “arrogant, unilateral and unacceptable.” Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara that also signed an Mbeki-brokered September 15 deal to share power, said that Mugabe’s announcement stemmed from “hallucination on the part of ZANU-PF.
“That (ministerial) list is what they wish to happen. It was not agreed on. As far as we know there was no agreement on the allocation of cabinet posts and we are waiting for the mediator, Mr Mbeki, to come and resolve the impasse,” he told AFP.
A government notice carried by the state-run Herald newspaper said Saturday that the veteran leader had given his ZANU-PF party 14 ministries, including control of defence, home and foreign affairs, justice, local government and the all-important state media.
According to the report, Tsvangirai’s MDC gets 13 portfolios, covering portfolios such as constitutional and parliamentary affairs, economic planning and investment promotion, labour and social welfare, and sport, the arts and culture.
Mutambara’s MDC would get three ministries.
Under the September 15 accord, 84-year-old Mugabe remains as president while Tsvangirai takes the new post of prime minister.
But efforts to form the government have become steadily more bogged down over disputes about who will control the most important ministries, with the finance brief also strongly contested.
Saturday’s shock announcement came hours after negotiators for the three main parties in the stand-off, including ZANU-PF, urged Mbeki to step in once again to resolve the deadlock over the allocation of the ministries.
Luckson Ruvire, a Zimbabwean student in Harare said: “There is no power-sharing if we are to judge by the list. It is still ZANU-PF running the government because they have all the main ministries.” Tsvangirai is scheduled to address a rally later Sunday in Harare during which he is expected to attack the latest Mugabe move.