No agreement on cabinet – Chamisa

Harare – Zimbabwe's political leaders failed on Saturday to iron out differences over the makeup of a unity government aimed at ending the country's political chaos, the opposition said.

The meeting of President Robert Mugabe, opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC splinter group head Arthur Mutambara failed to resolve a stand-off over key ministries and governor posts, Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

"There was deliberation but there was no agreement," Chamisa said. "Further consultations will take place with a view to try resolve the issues."

The parties had "a frank and realistic" exchange but the allocation of ministries was still deadlocked, Chamisa said.

The failure to agree on the key posts has delayed the implementation of a unity government outlined in a power-sharing agreement signed by the three leaders last month.

"We hope that things will be resolved soon but the delay is a threat to people’s lives. People are dying… the humanitarian response has to be activated and you need a functional government to do that," Chamisa said.

"People are suffering in this country, the situation is catastrophic," he added.

No Mbeki

The South African government said on Friday that former president Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the power-sharing deal, had agreed to resume his mediation to resolve the crisis.

Two senior Western diplomats in South Africa told AFP on Friday that at least one Mbeki aide could travel to Harare this weekend to discuss the situation in a move to push forward the talks.

On Saturday, Mbeki’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said if Mbeki or any of his aides travelled to Zimbabwe, this would be formally communicated.

The MDC this week called for Mbeki to mediate in power-sharing talks but Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party insisted that no outside mediation was needed.

The dispute is believed to centre on control of the defence, home affairs, state security and finance ministries.

Take what they can get?

Nathaniel Manheru, a columnist in the state-run Herald newspaper on Saturday said the opposition should grab whatever was on the platter.

"Let them take what is in on offer when they meet the president today at State House for another round of talks," Manheru said.

"That is the way to hasten honours which they crave for, but which they do not have presently."

Under the South African-brokered deal, Mugabe will remain as head of state after nearly three decades in power while Tsvangirai is to take up a new post of prime minister and Mutambara will be a deputy prime minister.

The deal was heralded as an historic initiative to resolve Zimbabwe’s political deadlock and economic melt-down.

Once one of Africa’s most prosperous countries, Zimbabwe now suffers the world’s highest rate of inflation, last estimated at 11.2 million percent, leaving 80% of the population living in poverty.