MDC sends delegation to COMESA Summit

KAMPALA – THE Zimbabwean opposition has sent its own delegation to the tripartite summit in Kampala to lobby their cause and increase the pressure on President Robert Mugabe to save the power-sharing agreement.

Negotiations are at the verge of collapse as Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), continue to disagree over who should control key ministries.

The opposition has warned that in case the talks fail, only fresh elections would resolve the dispute.

Two MDC officials, including Vice-President Thokozani Khupe, said yesterday that the party wants the African countries, especially SADC members, to rein Mugabe in.

"This is where African leaders are gathering for the COMESA, SADC and EAC summit and we know that Mugabe will be here. We don’t want only his side of the story to be heard," Elton Mangoma, MDC’s deputy treasurer, said.

Though the MDC members are not allowed inside the summit hall, they will endeavour to meet different groups, including individual presidents, to put their grievances across, he added.

Khupe explained that the talks have reached a deadlock over two fundamental issues: the equitable distribution of ministerial posts and of governors’ posts.

Mugabe, he said, should back down on the cabinet positions they are conflicting over, finance and home affairs, in order to save the power-sharing agreement.

The party also demands that five governors’ posts go the opposition, five to Mugabe’s ZANU PF and one to the MDC splinter party.

"We want four of the 10 most influential ministries. We had former South African President Thabo Mbeki broker a peace agreement but his usefulness has come to an end. SADC must now come in," Mangoma said.

Tsvangirai on Monday failed to attend a regional emergency summit in Swaziland to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis because authorities refused to issue him with a new passport after he had filled up his old one.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and President Robert Mugabe are among leaders who arrived yesterday.

The summit brings together 26 countries of the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The leaders will discuss trade arrangements and infrastructural development aimed at harmonizing commerce in the region and providing a solution to the continent’s under-development. Source: New Vision (Kampala)