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Dialogue delays new cabinet

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has delayed the appointment of a new cabinet and the swearing in of parliament to leave room for power sharing with the opposition MDC if the ongoing talks for a government of national unity (GNU) succeed.

 

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the inter-party negotiations mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki, recently advised Mugabe to delay the appointment of a new cabinet because a breakthrough in the talks could require a reconfiguration of posts.

“If there is a breakthrough, Mugabe will appoint a cabinet made up of his Zanu PF members and those drawn from both factions of the MDC,” a government source said. “Mugabe will also select 10 provincial governors from Zanu PF and the opposition.”

The sources said leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, were likely to be appointed as non-constituency senators first and later into cabinet.

Under the Constitution, the president is mandated to appoint five non-constituency senators and the provincial governors to the senate. Only MPs and senators are eligible to take up cabinet positions and this, the sources explained, led to Mugabe delaying the commencement of the life of the seventh parliament of Zimbabwe.

The sources said Mugabe would also drop ministers who lost in the March 29 parliamentary polls and create more space for MDC officials in the new cabinet.

Among the ministers who fell by the wayside in the polls are Patrick Chinamasa, Samuel Mumbengegwi, Aeneas Chigwedere, Amos Midzi, Mike Nyambuya, Joseph Made, Munacho Mutezo, Chris Mushohwe, Oppah Muchinguri and Rugare Gumbo. Chinamasa is likely to be rescued.

“Apart from power sharing in cabinet, some MDC officials will be appointed permanent secretaries in various ministries and others will be posted abroad as diplomats,” the government source said.

The proposal for a GNU was endorsed by the African Union at its summit at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, a fortnight ago.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have since endorsed the negotiations, but differences remain on preconditions for the dialogue.

Meanwhile, a senior parliamentary official who asked for anonymity this week dismissed reports that Mugabe had breached the constitution by failing to proclaim the date for the ceremonial opening of the new parliament.

Media reports claimed that the country’s constitution prohibits a gap of more than 180 days between sittings of parliament and should have resumed sitting on Tuesday. The last sitting of the old parliament was on January 17.

“The sittings of parliament are not synonymous with the life of parliament,” the parliamentary official said. “The 180 days in the constitution refers to sittings in a parliament whose life has already commenced. The life of the seventh parliament is yet to begin.”

By Constantine Chimakure

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