SADC Troika was divided over crisis talks

HARARE – An MDC official told us that President Armando Guebuza from Mocambique, Kgalema Motlanthe from South Africa and surprisingly King Mswati III from Swaziland, who was represented by his premier, were of the opinion that Tsvangirai’s proposal that there be an equitable distribution of portfolio ministries was very reasonable.

But the Angolan Foreign Minister was against this and so was Thabo Mbeki the facilitator.

The three party principals, including Arthur Mutambara, were allocated exclusive time to brief the Troika on how they thought the stalemate could be ended. But Mugabe remained defiant as ever, refusing to cede control of the Home Affairs Ministry. 10 other ministries are also up for discussion.

A senior aide to Tsvangirai said that Mutambara told the Troika he favoured the Home Affairs portfolio being given to the mainstream MDC

The Tsvangirai MDC presented a proposal that envisaged the pairing of ministries in the orders of importance and relative equality. They identified ten key ministries which they said should be shared equitably.

This is how their proposal works out. They paired Home Affairs (MDC) to Defence (ZANU PF), Justice and Legal Affairs (ZANU PF) to Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs (MDC), Mines and Minerals Development (ZANU PF) to Environment and Youth to Women (MDC).

It’s believed Motlanthe and Guebuza tried in vain to convince Mugabe to accept this deal. Mugabe is said to have told the two leaders he would only consider surrendering control of Home Affairs if that suggestion was coming from all SADC leaders, not just from the two of them.

There was no elaboration on this extraordinary statement, but it remains unlikely that Mugabe would agree no matter who was speaking to him.

Eddie Cross, the MDC MP for Bulawayo South, told us that when ZANU PF signed the power-sharing deal, they did not fully understand the implications of it. This was in reference to the panic and uncertainty among most civil servants. The majority of them are set to lose their jobs in a new inclusive government. Almost all top positions in the government were awarded on patronage, meaning close to 300 senior government posts should be shared equally as well.

‘Now that they appreciate how much they had conceded to the MDC, there is panic all over the party. What they didn’t realise was that this deal meant sharing the positions of ambassadors, their deputies, permanent secretaries, governors, provincial administrators the public service commission, principal directors. There is going to be virtually a 50-50 sharing in all government institutions,’ Cross said.

The MDC MP said ZANU PF were now trying to delay the power-sharing deal by regrouping and restrategising.

‘But by allowing the talks to move a step higher, from the Troika to a full SADC summit and possibly to the AU, Mugabe is losing friends and allies along the way,’ Cross added.

Mugabe still has traditional SADC allies in Angola, Namibia and the DRC. But the majority of them, such as Zambia, Mauritius and lately South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland, are turning their backs on him while Botswana has been relentless in criticising him.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao has meanwhile carried the brunt of criticism from the MDC who accuse him of deliberately omitting crucial information from the communiqué issued after the Harare summit.

Apart from failing to raise the issue of Tsvangirai’s passport, Salomao is accused by the MDC of leaving out the fact that SADC had deliberated on the fraudulent alteration of the agreement of the 11th September and the one that was signed on the 15th September.

‘It was their understanding that the Troika in fact made a resolution that it is the agreement of the 11th September 2008 that should be binding and we are indeed surprised that it was not captured in the communiqué,’ the MDC said in a statement.

A full SADC meeting is expected to be convened soon, possibly next week in Johannesburg, where South Africa holds the chairmanship of the regional bloc.