TALKS to tackle outstanding issues of the global political agreement have deadlocked, amid reports that facilitator — South African President Jacob Zuma — will arrive in the capital at the weekend to push for fresh elections by April next year.Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday told the Zimbabwe Independent that his party wanted finality to the talks and was ready to “park” the outstanding issues and go for elections to resolve the country’s decade-long political impasse.
“Outstanding issues should not inhibit progress,” the premier said. “We are waiting for a report from the negotiators whom we have asked to conclude the talks. If there are any outstanding issues we will park them and proceed.”
Tsvangirai’s sentiments are in line with what Zuma said last month and came after a stalemate in negotiations which resumed on Monday and ended on Wednesday. They were supposed to unlock the logjam on the outstanding issues of the global political agreement (GPA) with both Zanu PF and the MDC-T digging in their heels.
Tsvangirai said a new constitution should be enacted by October followed by fresh elections six months later.
Zuma’s facilitation team — made up of former South African ministers Charles Nqakula and Mac Maharaj, and the president’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu — which flew into the country on Monday to assist in the negotiations — left Harare on Wednesday morning empty-handed.
The latest talks, which were held in the Rainbow Towers Hotel’s presidential suite, reportedly cemented polarisation between Zanu PF and the MDC-T.
The parties were deadlocked on the rehiring of central bank boss Gideon Gono, appointment of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, and provincial governors, and the refusal to swear-in MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister.
Zanu PF wants sanctions lifted and “pirate” foreign radio broadcasts stopped by the MDC-T before it can concede to some of its demands.
The sources said Zuma’s facilitation team would brief him on the stalemate before he flies to Harare tomorrow to meet President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara to map out a way forward.
“There was no iota of movement on any of the outstanding issues,” one of the sources privy to the talks said. “There is now cementation and consolidation of polarisation because Zanu PF and the MDC are digging in.”
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesperson, told the Independent yesterday that the party’s national executive had met on Wednesday to receive a report on the negotiations and were not impressed.
“We received a report from our negotiators and it would appear there is zero movement and progress-free development on the talks,” Chamisa said. “As a party we are demanding finality, closure and conclusion on these talks. We don’t want to keep Zimbabweans in suspense and anxiety. We are holding everyone to ransom.”
Efforts to get comment from Zanu PF negotiators — Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche — were in vain at the time of going to press.
The sources said Zuma was expected to announce a deadlock on the outstanding issues on his visit and then press for fresh elections.
The sources said Zuma met Tsvangirai on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos a fortnight ago and informed him that regional leaders were proposing an election to end the country’s political impasse.
Tsvangirai reportedly bought the idea.
Mugabe last December told the Zanu PF congress to gear up for fresh elections and is today expected to tell his party’s central committee meeting to prepare for polls next year.
Both Zanu PF and the MDC-T have lined up rallies throughout the country to explain their positions on the constitution-making process and the anticipated polls.