Power-sharing deal eludes Harare rivals

Both the ruling Zanu-PF of President Robert Mugabe and the main opposition Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters that agreement was not yet in sight, the day after Mbeki flew to Harare to kick-start the impasse.

"We are not close to any deal yet… There is no deal to talk about at the moment," said an official from the main MDC faction, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Zanu-PF is not willing to move from the position they held when we met three weeks ago."

A Zanu-PF official close to the negotiations said Tuesday’s talks were unlikely to result in a solution to the political crisis which deadlocked last month amid Zimbabwe’s worsening economic situation.

"We doubt if we will get anywhere today. We don’t know who the MDC-Tsvangirai have been consulting during the night. What we know for sure is they will come with a fresh set of demands," the official said.

During discussions in Harare on Monday, parties were given a proposal by South African President Thabo Mbeki which aimed to unlock a power-sharing stalemate, a state daily reported on Tuesday.

The Herald newspaper reported that the "extensive and technical" document looked at executive powers and their distribution – a sticking point said to have stalled previous negotiations – and the structure of an inclusive government.

"The negotiators would study, debate and try to find common ground before resumption of the talks," the newspaper said, citing an unnamed source.

Despite scepticism expressed by other officials, Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesperson for the small MDC splinter led by Arthur Mutambara was hopeful that agreement could be reached.

"We are optimistic. We believe the leaders of the three parties will put Zimbabwe ahead of their individual interests and work out a deal that will end the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.

"We are hopeful. We know the challenges are big but we believe an agreement will be reached. Zimbabwe cannot afford to live under this impasse for any longer."

Mbeki, who was appointed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate in talks aimed to resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis, arrived in Harare Monday to try to resume negotiations.

The talks hit a deadlock last month after Mugabe and Tsvangirai differed on the sharing of executive powers.

Mugabe last week gave Tsvangirai an ultimatum to sign a deal, saying that he would form a new cabinet.

Tsvangirai on the other hand said he would only agree to a deal that gives him "sufficient powers". – Sapa-AFP