Only days after a historic power sharing deal, Zimbabwe’s leaders failed on Thursday to agree on who will get which key ministries in a new unity government and referred the matter back to negotiators.
“The meeting did not produce an agreement and the matter has been referred to the negotiators because of contestations over key ministries,” Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change said.
Thursday’s meeting followed Monday’s signing of a power-sharing deal that set out a framework for a multi-party government under president Robert Mugabe with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister.
The number of ministerial posts have been divided among the parties with the ruling ZANU-PF allotted 15 portfolios, Tsvangirai’s MDC 13 and three for a smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara who will be deputy prime minister.
An opposition source close to the negotiations said on condition of anonymity: “ZANU-PF wants all the powerful ministries like finance, defence, local government and information and leave us less important ministries.” “We are saying: ‘Let’s have an equal share’.”
Mugabe told his ZANU-PF central committee on Wednesday that party divisions during elections in March had cost him a winning majority.
“One keeps asking if only we had not blundered in the harmonised election we would not be facing this humiliation,” he said.
But the veteran leader, in an address broadcast live on television, went on to assure ZANU-PF that it remained in “the driving seat” and “will not tolerate any nonsense from our new partners”.
The 84-year-old leader appealed to ZANU-PF leaders to explain to Zimbabweans that the new deal meant former opponents were now political partners.
ZANU-PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said the central committee had endorsed the power-sharing deal in a bid to ease a prolonged political crisis and an economic meltdown.
“The central committee asked president Mugabe to ask Mr Tsvangirai about acts of violence being perpetrated against our supporters as it was felt that it might jeopardise the relationship we are trying to build,” he added.
Political analysts expect no immediate economic impact from the deal and that past political hositilities could haunt the new partnership.
Speaking on South African radio, Tsvangirai said on Wednesday he was certain Mugabe’s commitment to the deal was “unquestionable” and voiced confidence that the government would work.
“At a personal level, we don’t have a strained relationship… There’s been some positive interaction. So I’m quite confident that we can work together for the good of the people. I mean that’s the whole intention.”
The opposition won a parliamentary majority in the March elections, ending Mugabe’s unrivalled 30-year hold on power. Tsvangirai then boycotted a widely condemned presidential run-off in June in which Mugabe stood uncontested.
The country plunged into further economic meltdown following the political standoff.
Zimbabwe’s central bank Wednesday issued a new 1,000 dollar note in a bid to ease widespread cash shortages aggravated by the world’s highest inflation rate.
The bank has introduced a series of new notes since August, after the central bank struck 10 zeros off the local currency.
There have been chronic shortages of cash amid hyperinflation which was last reported at 11.2 million percent.
The South African government on Thursday said it would help draw up an emergency plan for Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket for southern Africa, to resuscitate its agricultural industry.