President Robert Mugabe said Monday a new Zimbabwe government would be formed “as quickly as possible” despite his rival Morgan Tsvangirai’s rejection of a regional compromise on a power-sharing deal.
“We will try to constitute (the new government) as quickly as possible,” said Mugabe, who unilaterally appointed key ministries to his own ruling ZANU-PF last month.
The veteran leader told reporters Monday he hoped the opposition leader would change his mind and accept a proposal by regional leaders to immediately form a government and share the disputed home affairs ministry.
“I hope they will” agree, the 84-year-old leader told reporters on state television as he boarded his airplane back to Harare, following the emergency heads of state meeting in Johannesburg on his country’s worsening crisis.
Mugabe’s lead negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said that Tsvangirai had been asked to submit names for ministers from his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“We invited Mr Tsvangirai to submit names from his party. Whether he will respond positively or not only time will tell,” Chinamasa told state television.
But Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe in the first-round of the presidential election in March, has already rejected the proposal by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“SADC approached this summit without any concrete strategy and did not have the courage and the decency to look Mr Mugabe in the eyes and tell him that his position was wrong,” Tsvangirai said after the talks in Johannesburg.
“This issue of co-sharing does not work. We have said so ourselves, we have rejected it, and that’s the position,” he told reporters.
“It is about power sharing, it is about equitable power sharing, it is about giving the responsibility to the party that won an election and has compromised its position to share a government with a party that lost,” he said.
A unity government is seen as a life-line to save Zimbabwe from political and economic crisis, and foreign donors have warned that no rescue packages will reach the southern African state without a new government.
Under the unity accord signed on September 15 in Harare, Mugabe would remain as president while Tsvangirai would become prime minister.
But the deal has stagnated over the share out of key ministries, particularly the home affairs ministry which runs the police.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official spokesman voiced disappointment Monday with the impasse in the former British colony.
“The international community is quite clear that it expects an equitable agreement on the allocation of ministries between ZANU-PF and the MDC,” the spokesman told reporters.
“The longer there is a delay in appointing a cabinet, the more difficult it will be for Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF to convince the world of their commitment to the September 15 agreement,” he added.
Tsvangirai said he was still committed to the deal, but said he would not accept Mugabe’s proposals for a cabinet that locks his MDC out of critical posts.
“The deal is teetering on the verge of collapse. Technically it has collapsed,” said Sydney Masamvu, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.
“SADC have failed in mediating the Zimbabwe crisis by failing to come up with a compromise position agreeable to all the principal parties.” With inflation running at more than 231 million percent, half of the population requires emergency food aid while a breakdown in basic services has led to deadly outbreaks of cholera in Harare.