MDC will demand removal of Mbeki as mediator – Reports

HARARE – Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal between the Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu-PF, to be presided by the Southern African Development Community troika in Harare today, is in danger of total collapse unless Robert Mugabe gives in to equally sharing key ministries with the opposition.

Sources said the MDC was worried that the composition of the troika – representatives from Swaziland, Tanzania and Angola – would prevent the deadlock being broken. The party wants a summit of all the SADC heads of state to hear the matter.

The MDC is also said to be planning an "onslaught" on the mediator, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, after claims that he delivered a controversial report to the troika last week approving Mugabe’s unilateral allocation of ministries.

The party is reportedly so angry about the alleged Mbeki approval that it wants to demand his removal as mediator if talks are to progress.

Prime minister-designate and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is holding on to the power-sharing deal, despite massive pressure from his supporters countrywide to pull out because they believe that they are being taken for a ride by Mbeki and Mugabe.

Sources in Harare said on Sunday that the MDC had resolved to put pressure on the troika to force Mugabe to cede six key ministries: home affairs, local government, finance, information, agriculture and justice.

"The MDC is hardened more than before after realising that all along, Mbeki was fighting from the same corner as Mugabe. It is going to be an all-out attack on Mbeki’s credibility. Tsvangirai will then take on the troika, which we all know is made up of dictators, and explain the need for a fair sharing of ministries.

"Tsvangirai feels betrayed by Mbeki. He is arguing that as mediator, Mbeki should have just presented a report on what the three political parties in the deal were demanding, and not to endorse Mugabe’s dubious cabinet.

"Tsvangirai is also clear that he will not agree to a power-sharing deal that does not give him powerful ministries to turn around the economy.

"Remember, even if the visiting heads of state try to force him to sign, it will be difficult because supporters throughout the country want him to pull out of the deal.

"Whatever happens on Monday, Tsvangirai will come out fighting," a top MDC official said.

Addressing a rally in Marondera, 75km from Harare, on Saturday, Tsvangirai vowed not to compromise. He said he was committed to the deal as long as Zanu-PF wanted to share power.

"We are very much committed, but… under an equitable power-sharing arrangement. I will not accept responsibility without authority.

"The problem is that Mugabe wants to grab all key ministries. If what Mugabe is doing is a demonstration of sincerity, then we are not going anywhere," said Tsvangirai.

Zanu-PF is still insisting on holding on to all the key ministries except finance. Mugabe is said to be under immense pressure from hardliners in the party not to give in to the MDC. Most senior Zanu-PF officials are worried that if the MDC gets home affairs, they will be arrested for corruption and human rights abuses committed since independence in 1980. IOL (SA)