African Union demands Zimbabwe crisis deal now

DAR ES SALAAM – African Union chair Tanzania wants to see a 50-50 power-sharing deal agreed for Zimbabwe immediately to stem a growing economic crisis, Tanzania's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said talks with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF that resumed on Friday in South Africa did not reach agreement.

"There is a problem and we still hope the mediation will continue and we still hope wisdom will prevail," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said in Dar es Salaam.

"We would prefer a solution be arrived at immediately because of the escalating economic crisis. We still pray that a solution will be found towards a 50 percent power-sharing solution," he told reporters in Tanzania’s commercial capital.

On Friday, negotiators from ZANU-PF, the main MDC and a smaller breakaway MDC faction separately met South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating the discussions.

The power-sharing talks have stalled over how to share executive power between Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who refused to sign an agreement two weeks ago that would have made him prime minister.

Tsvangirai protested against the proposed deal, saying it did not give him enough executive powers.

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

The economic price of the deadlock is rising by the day.

The hardships — inflation of more than 11 million percent is the world’s highest — have already driven millions of Zimbabweans to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Critics say Mugabe’s policies, such as seizing white-owned commercial farms and handing them to blacks, have ruined the country’s once-prosperous agriculture sector.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, blames Western sanctions for the nation’s economic collapse. Reuters