No deal on Zimbabwe, talks resume today

HARARE – Zimbabwe power-sharing talks will resume this morning after President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to secure a breakthrough on Monday.

Mugabe told reporters no deal was reached but the parties held a good meeting. "We are moving forward, we are not going back," he said, as he left the Harare hotel where South African president Thabo Mbeki led talks to end the political and economic crisis, after several hours of meetings.

 

Asked if a deal had been reached, Mugabe said: "Not yet".

 

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not speak to reporters as he left the venue but party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the negotiations would resume on Tuesday.

 

"We are trying to bridge the areas of our differences," he said.

 

Mbeki — mandated by the region to secure a deal — flew into Harare in a bid to revive talks, amid growing doubts over his chances of breaking the deadlock.

 

Two months of meetings in South Africa and Harare have so far failed to ease divisions over executive powers.

 

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday he would rather quit talks than sign a bad deal and challenged Mugabe to hold a new election. Mugabe had threatened to form a government alone if Tsvangirai did not sign last week.

 

The post-election talks are deadlocked over how to share executive power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, putting off any chance of rescuing Zimbabwe from its economic collapse.

 

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a March 29 election but fell short of enough votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation against his supporters.

 

Mbeki has come under repeated fire for not being tough enough with Mugabe.

 

Other southern African leaders have taken a harder line against Mugabe, but he has refused to budge, and Tsvangirai’s MDC has made it clear it has little faith in Mbeki as a mediator.

 

NO CHANGE

 

Tsvangirai told a rally on Sunday marking the party’s ninth anniversary that he would not change his position in the power-sharing talks if pressured by Mbeki.

 

In a commentary in Monday’s edition of the government-run Herald newspaper, its political and features editor Mabasa Sasa again accused Tsvangirai of refusing to sign a final deal on orders from Western powers opposed to Mugabe.

 

"The short history of the opposition is littered with evidence of a cancerous connection with Britain and other Western countries," he said, urging Mugabe to appoint a new cabinet to tackle Zimbabwe’s worsening economy.

 

A breakaway faction of Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC said on Monday it will remain independent and not work with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF if no power-sharing deal was reached with Tsvangirai.

 

The breakaway faction headed by Arthur Mutambara said in a statement that its leadership had decided that any agreement would have to be a three-way deal including Tsvangirai’s main opposition MDC.

 

Mugabe’s victory in the election run-off was condemned around the world and drew toughened sanctions from Western countries whose support is vital for reviving Zimbabwe’s ruined economy.

 

Tsvangirai told the rally an agreement was out of the question unless Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was prepared to compromise. Reuters