Friday, September 19, 2008

Zim cabinet talks falter

Jan Raath in Harare

The first attempt by the three partners in Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government to launch its new administration and confront the country's disastrous state fell at the first hurdle last night when they failed to agree on the sharing of the ministries.

"Zanu(PF) is claiming all the powerful ministries," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, after Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, broke up after about six hours of negotiations.

MDC sources said Mr Mugabe was insisting on the ministries of defence and home affairs - which includes the police, finance and local government.Mr Mugabe's new demands came after he addressed his party's politburo and central committee.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Mr Mugabe declared: "We remain in the driving seat. We will not tolerate any nonsense from our new partners."

Mr Chamisa said the issue would be referred to representatives of the three parties who carried out the bulk of negotiations for the agreement for an "inclusive" government signed on Monday.
Mr Mugabe leaves next week for the United Nations general assembly, which means that any conclusion is stalled by at least another week.

On Wednesday Mr Mugabe also told the central committee, "If only we had not blundered in the March 29 elections, we would not be facing this humiliation.

"This is what we have to deal with. We urge you to do your best in trying to understand the document." His remarks indicate a sense of resignation, and also signalled that for the first time since he came to power 28 years ago, he and Zanu(PF) can no longer exercise total control. His stance yesterday, however, showed he can be expected to use delaying tactics to the full.

Zanu(PF) will have 15 of the 31 ministries established in terms of the agreement, Mr Tsvangirai's MDC 13 and the lesser MDC led by Arthur Mutambara, 3, leaving the MDC with a slender majority - another unprecedented and unpalatable truth facing Mr Mugabe.

The MDC is understood to be willing to let Mr Mugabe keep the defence ministry, a move that both would placate the powerful generals loyal to him, but also in the hope that he would surrender to the main pro-democracy party the home affairs ministry, and with it the all-important police force.

Source: London Times

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