Power-sharing deal held up by Mugabe’s refusal to cede power

By Tichaona Sibanda
18 August 2008

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said ‘a few issues’ are still holding back the signing of a power-sharing deal with ZANU-PF, according to sources in his party.
The major sticking points are Mugabe’s insistence on retaining control of government, while only allowing Tsvangirai to preside over some ministries.
Tsvangirai told the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security that they also differ with Mugabe on the duration of any power-sharing government, its framework and constitution.

According to documents seen by Newsreel, the MDC’s position on a new government of national unity envisages a short transition period of up to 30 months, ending with an election under a new democratic constitution.

It’s believed Zanu-PF want such an arrangement to last five years. The MDC in their position paper said they have compromised and proposed a five year period, subject to either party reserving it’s right to terminate the transitional agreement after the new constitutional making process, by giving three months notice.

The MDC envisage that a constitutional process would be completed within 18 months and that the effect of a ‘termination’ would trigger a harmonised election. All parties have agreed to a new constitution and they signed and initialled an agreement to this, in Kariba in September last year.

Glen Mpani, a political analyst following the power-sharing talks closely, said Mugabe was not being sincere by suggesting a transitional government for 5 years.

‘A government not genuinely elected by people cannot run for five years. It shows whoever is advocating for this is doing it not in the interests of the people, but in the interests of the political elite,’ Mpani said.

He added; ‘Mugabe is hoping the economy will improve in the next five years and hopes to deal with the succession issue in Zanu-PF, otherwise he knows his party is unpopular and will lose any democratically held elections in the next two years.’

Tsvangirai on Friday told the presidents of Angola, Swaziland and Tanzania, who make up the Troika on Politics, Defence and Security that his party’s position on the executive arm of government is a cabinet that is constructed on the basis of the parliamentary strength of each of the parties.

He said the MDC also envisage a structure of government that recognises a clear separation between the Head of State and Head of government.

Tsvangirai said; ‘In this regard it should be noted that we have agreed that Mugabe will be President whilst I become Prime Minister during the transition period. He added; ‘We believe that a stable government can only be achieved if they are no conflicting centres of power. We envisage that the Prime Minister must chair the cabinet and be responsible for the formulation, execution and administration of government business, including appointing and dismissing his ministers in terms of the political agreement. A Prime Minister cannot be given responsibility without authority and be expected to deliver.’

In the proposed new government set up the MDC suggested two Vice-Presidents, to be nominated by Zanu-PF and appointed by the Head of State. The MDC have said Mugabe could also keep his role of military commander in chief.

Their proposal says that Tsvangirai, in his position of Prime Minister, would appoint two deputies, one from his party and the other from the MDC-Mutambara. All parties have agreed cabinet will have 31 ministers, 15 nominated by Zanu-PF, 13 by MDC-Tsvangirai and three from MDC-Mutambara.

There shall be 15 deputy ministers, eight nominated by Zanu-PF, six by MDC-T and one by MDC-M.

Meanwhile SADC encouraged the political rivals to sign any outstanding agreements as a matter of urgency, to restore political stability.

But with the failure of the talks South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been leading the bloc's mediation efforts, is now expected to visit Harare later this week to continue his mediation efforts.

But a MDC official close to the talks wasn’t sure the trip to Harare by Mbeki will change anything, if he doesn’t formulate new methods of approaching the crisis talks.

‘He needs new ingredients to give the talks a fresh look, otherwise people are getting tired of his pleading to please sign the documents,’ said the official.

It’s reported that Tsvangirai complained to SADC that his party had hoped that by signing the Memorandum of Understanding last month some things would change.

‘We had created (after signing the MoU) a political environment of tolerance and that all factors that polarized and impoverished our people would be removed. Alas, the manner in which we treat and relate to each other as negotiating parties is inconsistent with the MoU. I am saddened to report that to this day the Zimbabwean people continue to starve as a result of the continued ban in practice of the operations of relief agencies amongst other problems. All it takes is a letter from the responsible authorities to reverse this ban,’ Tsvangirai said.

None of the SADC Heads raised any of Tsvangirai’s concerns, as it appears there were more concerned about concluding a deal that would see Mugabe retain almost all the executive powers.

Currently the country’s inflation is the highest in the world, leaving millions of people unable to afford food and other basics in what had once been the region’s breadbasket. The United Nations estimate the number of Zimbabweans suffering from food insecurity will reach more than 5 million between January and March next year.

In June, Mugabe banned aid agencies from working in the field, accusing them of supporting the opposition. At the summit’s closure however Mbeki briefly touched on the threat of a famine, saying political conditions must be created so that this humanitarian, socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe is addressed as a matter of urgency, by an inclusive government.



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