Zimbabwe cabinet talks deadlocked – Chamisa

HARARE, (Reuters) – Talks between Zimbabwe's political parties on forming a cabinet have reached a deadlock but efforts to secure a breakthrough will resume on Friday, the opposition MDC said on Thursday.

"We have reached a deadlock over the issue of the allocation of ministries. We have referred the matter to the facilitator," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said, referring to former South African presiudent Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating.

"Tomorrow the process will continue."

He said 10 ministries, including home affairs and defence were still in dispute.

Earlier on opposition an official for the Movement for Democratic Change breakaway faction said negotiators had reached a compromise on the finance and home affairs ministries.

South Africa’s Talk Radio 702 reported on Thursday. The radio station quoted Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the smaller opposition MDC faction that is taking part in talks with President Robert Mugabe and main MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as saying a deal was close, a claim later refuted by the main opposition’s Spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

Disagreements over the allocation of cabinet posts have stalled the formation of a unity government after a power-sharing deal was signed over a month ago.

Ncube is the chief negotiator for the Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC.

He emerged during a break in negotiations and confirmed a compromise had been reached over the finance and home affairs ministries.

Those were the two ministries Morgan Tsvangirai was adamant had to be taken away from Zanu-PF.

It’s not clear exactly what the compromise is but there have been suggestions that a finance minister from the Mutambara faction would be acceptable to both sides.

Former president Thabo Mbeki is alleged to have told Mugabe that he can’t have control of both the army and police and may have persuaded him to back down on home affairs.

Meanwhile South African President Kgalema Motlanthe says he’s confident that his predecessor Thabo Mbeki will succeed in brokering a power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki, Zanu-PF’s Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two Movement for Democratic Change factions Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara entered into a third day of negotiations in Harare on Thursday aimed at expediting the formation of a unity government.

However, Motlanthe says time is running out for farmers who are crucial to addressing the country’s critical food shortage.

"It’s a race against time and we have got to assist Zimbabweans with the necessary supplies so that they don’t miss out on the planting season" said Motlanthe.