A FINAL power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and the two formations of the MDC is expected to be concluded by year-end amid reports that the political protagonists are far from resolving contentious issues.
Sources in Zanu PF and the MDC said the agreement signed last month may be finalised by the end of December given the rate at which the negotiations to constitute a unity government have been proceeding.
The deal ran into serious problems a few days after it was inked when Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, hit deadlock on the distribution of the 31 cabinet portfolios among their parties. Under the deal, Mugabe should have 15 ministries, Tsvangirai 13 and Mutambara 3. Â
The tension heightened last Friday when Mugabe parcelled out the ministries despite having met Tsvangirai and Mutambara earlier that day and having agreed to recall the pact broker, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, to Harare to try to unlock the logjam.
The Tsvangirai-led MDC accused Mugabe of retaining key ministries – defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, local government, justice, and information – which they said was tantamount to “power-grabbing” instead of power-sharing.
Mbeki flew into Harare on Monday and last night was still trying to resolve the crisis. But sources said even if the deadlock is unlocked, there were more problems on the road ahead.
Chief among the obstacles, the sources said, would be the drafting, gazetting and debating of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 that will operationalise the unity deal.Â Â
The amendment would create the office of the prime minister and deputy prime ministers and would expand the numbers of MPs in both the House of Assembly and the Senate.
“Details of the constitutional amendment should come from the three parties,” one of the sources said. “The input into the amendment will be contentious and there is a likelihood of another stalemate.”
The source said the MDC-Tsvangirai would fight for a constitutional provision stating that Mugabe would make key appointments only after agreeing with the prime minister.
Tsvangirai would be the prime minister in the unity government.
The MDC wants the word “consult” in the agreement referring to Mugabe to be replaced with “agreeing”.
The sources said Zanu PF would fight “tooth and nail” to block the MDC from curtailing Mugabe’s power.
The two MDC formations, the sources added, would also fight to have a constitutional provision empowering them to be involved in appointing key permanent secretaries, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and government departments.
If the parties agree, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 will be gazetted in terms of the law.
After being gazetted, the constitutional amendment should be debated publicly for at least 30 days before it is tabled, debated and passed by both the House of Assembly and the Senate. Mugabe would then sign it into law.
“Given the process the amendment has to go through, the final conclusion of the unity deal should be by the end of December,” another source said. “The parties are yet to meet to deliberate on the details of the amendment yet we are already moving towards the end of October. There is need for at least two months from the day of gazetting and passing into law.”
The sources said apart from the constitutional amendment, Zanu PF and the two MDC formations were yet to negotiate on the 10 provincial governors’ posts Mugabe’s party wanted to cling on to.
The Zanu PF central committee on September 17, two days after the power-sharing deal was signed, resolved that the 10 provincial governors appointed by Mugabe on August 29 should remain in office.
The central committee agreed that the issue of governors was not contained in the pact signed by the three parties
But the MDC has since said the governors’ posts should be distributed among the parties in line with the outcome of the March 29 elections.
Last week, Tsvangirai said: “We have not yet deliberated on the outstanding issue of the allocation of governors. This issue remains outstanding considering that as negotiating parties we agreed that the allocation of governors must be in the spirit of the result of the election on March 29.”
The sources said in this week’s round of negotiations with Mbeki in the chair, the MDC did not raise the issue of the governors, but left it for another day.
Zanu PF and the MDC would also haggle on the proposal by Mugabe’s party to scrap a clause in the unity government barring by-elections for 12 months. Â
The parties agreed on the clause after considering the divisiveness and confrontational nature of elections and also out of the need to allow the deal to take root.
The clause read: “Cognisant of the need to give our people some breathing space and a healing period, the parties hereby agree that for a period of 12 months from the date of signing of this agreement, should any electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the seat subject to that party complying with the rules governing its internal democracy.”
Soon after Zanu PF resolved to have by-elections, the party tasked its commissariat department to prepare for by-elections in
Chegutu, Matobo South and Guruve North.
By Constantine Chimakure