Minister confirms latest desparate attempts by Robert Mugabe

HARARE – Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe will form a new government "as soon as possible" and discussions are underway between his ruling Zanu-PF party and the main opposition, a cabinet minister said on Thursday.

"The President is in the process of forming a new inclusive government," Minister of Information and Publicity Siskhanyiso Ndlovu told a news conference.

"In the process of forming a government, we don’t put deadlines but it will be as soon as possible."

Ndlovu said discussions between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were taking place but refused to divulge details.

"We can’t reveal what communications are taking place. We will let you know the results of the communications," he said.

The party’s plans to push ahead with a new government come after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai rejected a regional proposal at the weekend to set up a new government and share the disputed home affairs ministry with Mugabe.

"The formation of the new inclusive government is a big victory for the people of Zimbabwe and not for any particular party or individual," Ndlovu said.

He also called on the United States and the European Union to lift sanctions on Mugabe’s ruling elite saying they were hurting ordinary citizens.

Ndlovu had said on Wednesday: "President Mugabe is going to implement the SADC resolution. We must form an inclusive government… The president is going to invite the MDC to submit names of its would-be ministers. It’s premature to say they’ve refused."

Zimbabwe’s three political rivals signed an agreement on September 15 to form a power-sharing government aimed at tackling the country’s economic and political crises.

But the formation of the new government has been delayed by bickering over the share-out of key ministries.

The political feuding has dashed the hopes of ordinary Zimbabweans that their daily struggle for survival could ease.

With inflation running at more than 231 million percent, half of the population requires emergency food aid, while a breakdown in basic services has led to deadly outbreaks of cholera in Harare.

Western nations have said they are ready to release hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, but not while Mugabe retains his sole grip on power. – AFP