Zuma appoint new Zimbabwe talks team

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has named the three-person facilitation support team to work on helping the Zimbabwean political parties iron out problems affecting government operations.

The President’s political adviser Charles Nqakula leads the team, working with special envoy Mac Maharaj and international relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu.

"The facilitation team will soon engage with the parties as emissaries of the President, and report back to President Zuma," the Presidency said on Wednesday.

The SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation meeting in Mozambique early this month, directed that the parties should start discussing outstanding issues within 15 days and conclude the talks not more than 30 days from 5 November when the Troika met.

During the summit, Zuma was mandated to facilitate dialogue between President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara.

The three parties were since Monday locked up in negotiations to iron out differences which have created deep chasms within the country’s inclusive government, as per the Maputo resolutions.

Negotiations went well into the evening on Monday, with none of the chief negotiators shedding light on what was going on behind doors.

There was an agreement that the media should not have a blow by blow account of the discussions, as this would be tantamount to negotiating in public.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF is represented by Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC is represented by Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma.

Welshman Ncube and Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga represented Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s smaller MDC faction.

The Global Political Agreement (GPA), which was signed on September 2008 after a serious political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe and the absence of a clear winner in that year’s general elections, resulted in the formation of the inclusive government in February.

Under the agreement, Mugabe retained his post while Tsvangirai became prime minister and Mutambara became deputy prime minister.

However, there have been some challenges with. The MDC has raised concerns over sharing of posts of provincial governors, diplomats, senior public servants, the disputed appointments of attorney-general Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, arrests of MPs.

The Zanu-PF for its part has raised a concern over the establishment of parallel government structures by Tsvangirai’s office, which it says is a threat to the survival of the GPA.

Among the issues Zanu-PF regards as outstanding are the setting up of a National Economic Council, the constitution-making process and a land audit, which it says are constrained by lack of funds "and the rather crowded agenda."

The party also wants radio broadcasts beaming into Zimbabwe from beyond its borders to be stopped.

The broadcasts are generally anti-Zanu-PF, even though some party officials have granted interviews to the radio stations.

In its argument, Tsvangirai’s party is calling for the opening up of the media landscape to allow other players to compete with the national broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. It also says it does not own or support any radio station.

Charles Nqakula is a top South African politician who has been Minister of Defence since September 2008. He was Minister of Safety and Security from May 2002 to September 2008.

Tipped as a contender for the future presidency of South Africa, he is concurrently national chairperson of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

South African Communist Party has been highly vocal against Robert Mugabe.