"I will never betray the people" – Tsvangirai

Implementation of the power-sharing deal signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara has been delayed for a month over the allocation of ministries. The principals in the deal declared a deadlock last week and decided to call in Mbeki, the Southern African Development Community-appointed mediator, to try to help them find common ground.

On the same day, however, Mugabe gazetted an allocation of ministries in which his Zanu-PF held 14 portfolios, including defence, home affairs – which is in charge of the police – and finance, a portfolio crucial to resuscitating the economy.

Mugabe claimed only finance, one of five key ministries, was in dispute.

The MDC said none of the allocations had been settled. It responded by publishing a list of desired ministries.

Speaking at a rally here attended by thousands of supporters on Sunday, Tsvangirai slammed Mugabe for negotiating in bad faith.

"We dragged Mugabe to the negotiating table because we wanted to save the people from hunger, poverty and unemployment," he said.

"We decided we needed a government in transition where we would give Mugabe time to go.

"We disagreed on the allocation of ministries because Mugabe wants all the key portfolios. After disagreeing, we decided to bring back the mediator. But (Mugabe) went behind our backs and published a list of the ministries he wants and not what should be shared.

"If Mbeki fails, we will say this marriage has broken (down). I will never betray the people and give in to Mugabe. This deal is not about Mugabe or Tsvangirai, it’s about the people of Zimbabwe. The world is watching, the people are watching."

Tsvangirai lambasted Mugabe for behaving as though he was "the boss" when it was clear the power-sharing deal gave them equal powers.

"We are supposed to share the ministries, but he is pretending to allocate (to) us. I am the one who is supposed to allocate him ministries because I won (the presidential election) in March. If they get defence, we get home affairs. It’s as simple as that."

Zanu-PF did not want the MDC to control powerful ministries because some of its members were conscious of their past deeds and were afraid.

Tsvangirai said the MDC would not follow a retributive agenda. Its immediate task would be to put food on tables.

Mbeki is expected in Zimbabwe on Monday.