Does Mugabe back down on power-sharing?
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is expected in Harare as early as tomorrow to conclude the stalled power-sharing deal, which sources said was "as good as signed" after Zanu PF backed down on key parts of the agreement.
Well-placed sources confirmed to The Standard yesterday that negotiators between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations had reached "sort of a consensus" and an agreement was imminent. Independent sources told The Standard that Zanu PF leader, President Robert Mugabe had agreed to the demands by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that they share power equally. The development will see Mugabe becoming the Head of State, while Tsvangirai becomes the Head of Government.
Tsvangirai is expected to explain his position to supporters today at the party’s ninth anniversary celebrations in the Midlands provincial capital, Gweru. Last month, Tsvangirai refused to sign a power-sharing agreement that would have retained Mugabe as both head of state and government. But the latest arrangement, which could come into effect after Mbeki’s arrival this week would see Tsvangirai becoming the Prime Minister, in charge of the Cabinet - including the appointment and firing of ministers - and government’s business in Parliament, while Mugabe remains the President, in charge of state security and related portfolios.
In the initial agreement, Tsvangirai would have been a member of cabinet and its deputy chairperson. He rejected this arrangement saying it made him junior to Mugabe. "All SADC heads of state appear to agree to the deal.
The AU is saying the same thing, but the only problem is the wording of the agreement," said one of our sources. "There have been consultations between the negotiators and their parties and those issues appear to have been addressed." A major area of focus, said our sources, was Zanu PF’s instruments of violence which remain intact. MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa yesterday said Tsvangirai’s "signature is ready" once the outstanding issues have been resolved. "Once those things are resolved, the signature is ready. The biggest task is what is ahead, that is, resolving the current economic crisis, creating jobs and ensuring the cultivation of trust among Zimbabweans," Chamisa said, adding they were pushing for an equal power sharing deal. "It is not about the outsmarting of one party by the other, but a genuine partnership rooted and anchored on trust. We hope Zanu PF will not be unnecessarily rigid and inflexible to delay a settlement." The concessions by Mugabe came in the face of renewed opposition from Canada, Australia and the US to Zanu PF’s intention to scuttle the idea of a transitional government/government of national unity and go ahead with formation of a Cabinet. There was a swift and decisive response from America, Australia and Canada.