Mugabe set to name cabinet as talks fail

HARARE – ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe is expected to name his cabinet shortly, after power-sharing talks on Friday failed to resolve a disagreement over the country’s executive powers.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the Zimbabwean Standard newspaper before Friday’s talks outside Pretoria that President Thabo Mbeki was behind the controversial draft deal that would have made Tsvangirai a largely powerless prime minister, and entrenched Mugabe’s grip on the country.

The MDC leader had refused to agree to the arrangement, saying he would consult his party. His rejoinder was to be the basis of Friday’s discussion.

Tsvangirai also said talks preceding Friday’s meeting had been heated, and that it was left to Mbeki to come up with the final draft during Zimbabwe’s Heroes’ Holiday, after he and Mugabe had also failed to agree on the terms of the transitional government and its duration, and the constitution and amendments.

“All the negotiating teams are back (in Harare),” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. “Nothing was achieved in the latest round of engagement in SA to break the deadlock. We remain where we were.”

Negotiators from Zanu (PF), the main MDC and a smaller breakaway MDC faction separately met Mbeki, who is mediating the talks.

The smaller faction of the MDC is led by Arthur Mutambara

Mbeki’s spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said yesterday that the dialogue would continue, but declined to give details.

“It is a continuous process, not a single event,” Ratshitanga said.

The power-sharing talks have stalled over how executive power should be shared by Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who refused to sign an agreement that would have made him prime minister two weeks ago. Tsvangirai has protested against the proposed deal, saying it does not give him enough executive powers in government.

The opposition leader beat Mugabe in a March 29 election but fell short of enough votes to avoid a runoff vote, which was controversially won by Mugabe after Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation against his supporters.

In his weekly column in the state-controlled Herald, viewed as reflecting government thinking, presidential spokesman George Charamba said Mugabe did not need the go-ahead from the Southern African Development Community (SADC ) to form a government. Mbeki is the SADC-mandated mediator in talks between the parties.

The “cabinet will be announced, quite soon," Charamba, who writes under the pen name Nathaniel Manheru, said.

Charamba also warned that police would act if MDC legislators continued to harass Mugabe as they did when they taunted and heckled him during his opening of parliament speech on Tuesday, reports said.

The MDC , human rights activists and political analysts have said if Mugabe goes ahead and appoints a cabinet, he would be breaching conditions of the memorandum of agreement agreed to by the parties.

Mugabe has already appointed provincial governors from his Zanu (PF) party.

The MDC said it would lobby the African Union and the United Nations not to recognise Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president. With Reuters