"MDC is jeopardising talks" – Chinamasa

HARARE – Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa accused the main opposition MDC on Wednesday of endangering power-sharing talks which have stalled over cabinet posts, but said negotiations would continue.

Two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions and President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF have been haggling since September 15, when an outline deal was reached to end a political crisis that worsened after Mugabe’s re-election unopposed in a June election boycotted by the MDC.

On Tuesday the main MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai said no progress had been made in talks, which remained deadlocked on allocating all the key ministries, and called for urgent African intervention in the impasse.

"The MDC is prejudicing talks by trying to negotiate in public. That will not assist the process. That’s a sure way of collapsing the negotiations," Chinamasa told Reuters on Wednesday .

"I don’t agree that the negotiations have stalled. They will continue. I don’t see the need of a facilitator. We must keep talking. The facilitator is not going to run this country," added Chinamasa, the ruling party’s chief negotiator.

The original deal between Zimbabwe’s political parties was brokered by Thabo Mbeki, who remains mediator on behalf of the Southern African Development Community despite being ousted as president in neighbouring South Africa.

Under the outline agreement, Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980, would retain the presidency and chair the cabinet, while Tsvangirai as prime minister would head a council of ministers supervising the cabinet.

Zimbabweans fear that failure to find a breakthrough will worsen an economic crisis most visible in inflation of about 11 million percent — the highest in the world — and chronic shortages of food, electricity, water, and lately, banknotes.

Many Zimbabweans have resorted to bartering goods and rely on help from relatives abroad, mostly South Africa, for supplies of scant basic foodstuffs like the staple maize, sugar and cooking oil.