"We won't be shacken by cheap political gymnastics" – Chamisa

HARARE – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has said he will go ahead and form a Cabinet if opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai does not sign a power-sharing deal on Thursday, state media reported.

Tsvangirai’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) responded by saying any attempts by Mugabe to pressure it into an agreement would fail.

"Where on earth have you seen dialogue held on the basis of threats and ultimatum? They want to bully us into an agreement, but that’s completely unacceptable, we won’t be shacken by cheap political gymnastics" said MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.

Mugabe said he would form a government with or without the MDC because Zimbabwe could not afford to have a situation where "we will not have a Cabinet forever", the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

The negotiations have stalled over how executive power should be shared by Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai 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.

Zimbabwe state radio said South African President Thabo Mbeki was expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Thursday to continue mediation efforts aimed at ending a post-election crisis that has worsened its economic decline.

Mbeki’s spokesperson, however, said there was no truth to reports that he would visit Zimbabwe on Thursday.

"If after tomorrow [Thursday] Tsvangirai does not want to sign, we will certainly put together a Cabinet. We feel frozen at the moment," Mugabe told reporters in Lusaka on Wednesday after attending the funeral of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.

 ‘Attempt to fragment the Cabinet’ On Wednesday, South Africa’s Talk Radio 702 reported Tsvangirai as saying the power-sharing negotiations had broken down and were unlikely to resume soon.

Tsvangirai has protested against a proposed deal, saying it did not give him enough executive powers in government.

The MDC leader said he refused to sign a deal with Mugabe because the proposal would have given the veteran leader control of security force.

"There was an attempt to fragment the Cabinet. With some ministries reporting to the president and some ministries reporting to the prime minister," he told Talk Radio 702.

"In this case the economic and social ministries will go to the prime minister. The security ministries will go to the president."

Talk Radio 702 quoted Tsvangirai as saying he "was not aware of plans" for the talks to resume soon.

The deadlock has worsened a catastrophic economic decline marked by the world’s highest inflation rate of more than 11-million percent, and chronic food, fuel and foreign currency shortages that have driven millions of Zimbabweans to regional countries. — Reuters