Robert Mugabe set to form new government in February – Report

HARARE – The embattled Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe is expected to form a new government by the end of February despite stalled talks with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the state-run Herald newspaper said on Monday. The minor rebel MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara is believed to have accepted cabinet posts foisted to it by the 84 year old dictator.

The veteran leader, who started a month-long holiday this week, began preparations for a new administration last week when he fired nine ministers and three deputies who lost seats in last year’s parliamentary election.

The move was seen as the clearest sign yet he had lost patience with talks on forming a power-sharing government with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The Herald said a senior ruling ZANU-PF party official, Nicholas Goche, met Sydney Mufamadi, the representative for mediator Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s former president, on Saturday to discuss ways of ending the impasse.

"The president has had enough of games from the opposition and he made this quite clear in his meeting with MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara," a source told the newspaper. Mutambara heads a splinter faction of the MDC.

"They agreed that a government should be put in place sooner rather than later," the paper said.

It would most likely be in place by the end of next month, the source said.

Mugabe, leader of the main MDC Morgan Tsvangirai, and Mutambara signed a power-sharing pact on September 15 but it has been held up by a dispute over cabinet posts.

Mutambara has in the past said he would not join a government without Tsvangirai. 

The Herald said Goche and Mufamadi also discussed a letter, apparently written by Tsvangirai to Mugabe, which said the opposition leader was not prepared to take up the post of prime minister, as agreed in the September deal.

Tsvangirai won a presidential election in March last year but by too few votes for an outright victory. He pulled out of the subsequent run-off, citing violence against MDC supporters.