Zimbabwe power-sharing talks hit snag: state media

HARARE – Zimbabwean power-sharing talks, which resumed in South Africa on Friday, have hit a snag over a proposal for President Robert Mugabe and his opposition rival to jointly chair the cabinet, state media reported on Saturday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) made the new proposal when negotiating teams separately met South African President Thabo Mbeki on Friday, the state-owned Herald newspaper said, quoting sources.

"The only new but nonetheless absurd suggestion from the MDC was that Cabinet be co-chaired by President Mugabe and (MDC leader Morgan) Tsvangirai. ZANU-PF dismissed that, not just as insolent, but also stunning ignorance on how government works," a source told the Herald.

The power-sharing talks have stalled over how executive power would be shared by President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who refused to sign an agreement two weeks ago.

Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe in a March 29 election but did not get enough ballots to avoid a run-off poll, controversially won by Mugabe after Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence and intimidation against his supporters.

Under a proposed deal agreed to by Mugabe and a smaller breakaway faction of the MDC, Mugabe would chair the cabinet while Tsvangirai as prime minister would be deputy chairperson.

The MDC’S new proposal would see him and Mugabe jointly chairing the cabinet, the Herald said.

ZANU-PF opposed this proposal and insisted that all that remained was for the MDC to sign up to the deal.

Mugabe would form a government should the opposition fail to accept terms of the power-sharing agreement, the source said.

MDC officials in South Africa and Mbeki’s spokesman were not available for comment.