We are there – Mbeki's sidekicks gloats

Cape Town – Frank Chikane, the director general in the presidency, and a leading member of the team facilitating the talks towards an inclusive government in Zimbabwe, said on Wednesday: "It has been tough, but we are there."

He was briefing the media in Pretoria and Cape Town on the outcome of the talks which were concluded in the special summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Monday, in the face of numerous apparently conflicting reports about what that outcome actually was.

He made it clear that there is agreement on the formation of the all-party government – actually made in Sandton on November 9.

This week’s summit was about the implementation of that agreement, and it set the new timetable for the accomplishment of each stage of the agreement.

Chikane explained that the earlier deal wanted the formation of the government to happen before the constitutional amendment was passed by Parliament. But the new timetable calls for the amendment to be passed first.

The very first item in the timetable is the establishment of a joint monitoring implementation committee (JOMIC) which has to be formed on Friday this week.

JOMIC will receive complaints and grievances over the implementation, and will refer them to the guarantors of the original agreement if they can’t be immediately resolved. The guarantors are the facilitation team, and SADC and the African Union.

Chikane also explained that each of the parties has the right to go back to its mandating council to have the results of the negotiation endorsed.

"In negotiation you win some things and you lose some. No one gets everything they start out by wanting, otherwise it would not be a negotiation," he said.

He did not care to comment on what would happen if the mandating council of the Movement for Democratic Change (led by Morgan Tsvangirai) declined to accept the results of the negotiation. But he insisted that the easiest way of dealing with the problems would be from inside the unified government.

The timetable agreed by the Pretoria summit, which included the three parties – Zanu-PF, MDC (T) and the Mutambara faction of the MDC – calls for the parties to "endeavour to cause Parliament to pass the constitutional amendment" by February 5, the Prime Minister and deputy prime ministers to be sworn in by February 11, and ministers and deputy ministers to be sworn in by February 13.

It is still not clear who will go first in the job of Home Minister (who has charge of the police force), which is to be shared.

According to Chikane it should be decided by tossing a coin. And the new agreement specifies that all the ministries will come up for review after six months, and not just the Home Ministry.

The thorny problem of who becomes central bank governor and who the attorney general, is to be left for the unity government to decide.

The other issues which the MDC factions wanted settled – the establishment of the National Security Council and the formula for the appointment of provincial governors – is to be tackled by further negotiations beginning today (on Wednesday), with the facilitators overseeing the process.

– I-Net Bridge (News24)