Zimbabwe’s main political parties met on Wednesday to iron out differences over the division of key Cabinet posts in a unity government, but failed to reach agreement, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson said.
“Our negotiating team, led by secretary general Tendai Biti, held a meeting with the Zanu-PF negotiating team, but the situation remains as before,” Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the MDC, said.
“It’s a deadlock. It can only be unlocked by the mediator, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, and the Southern African Development Community,” said Chamisa.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his arch-rivals, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main MDC, and Arthur Mutambara, who heads the splinter faction of the MDC, signed a landmark power-sharing accord last month aimed at ending the country’s political and economic crisis.
So far they have failed to agree on how to divide key ministries, leading the MDC to call for regional mediators to help break the impasse.
Under the deal, the 84-year-old Mugabe retains his position as head of state, after nearly three decades in power, while Tsvangirai took up the new post of prime minister.
Tsvangirai’s MDC claims that Mugabe’s ruling party wants to retain key posts — believed to be the defence, home affairs, state security and finance ministries — in violation of the pact.
Mugabe’s party on Wednesday said the MDC was putting the troubled power-sharing talks at risk by speaking publicly about the negotiations.
Patrick Chinamasa, chief negotiator for Zanu-PF, said MDC signatories were violating the spirit of the deal, which calls for an information blackout on negotiations.
“Negotiating in public will lead to the negotiations failing,” he told reporters.
Once a model African economy and regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe is now labouring under the world’s highest inflation rate and crippling shortages of basic goods and food.
Meanwhile, South African opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) says that Mbeki’s mediation in Zimbabwe has plainly failed and is urging President Kgalema Motlanthe to get involved.
“President Motlanthe must also make some of the unambiguous demands that Mbeki was never courageous enough to make, but which are critical to overcoming Mugabe’s intransigence,” according to Sandra Botha, the DA’s Parliamentary leader. “He must state that South Africa will not recognise any government whose Cabinet does not reflect the provisions of the power-sharing deal or the results of the March elections.”
Botha said on Wednesday that Motlanthe, as the new head of state, has more leverage than former president Mbeki to get Zanu-PF to agree to share all key ministries and governors with the MDC. “Mr Mbeki is no longer held in high regard by the negotiating parties since his dismissal from office,” she said. — Sapa-AFP, Sapa-AP, I-Net Bridge