|11. 9. 2008
Now Mugabe baulks at signing unity deal
A third day of power-sharing negotiations in Zimbabwe ended last night with Robert Mugabe refusing to sign a pact that would curtail his powers, despite making some concessions to his rival Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change. But Mugabe and Tsvangirai left the talks - chaired by President Thabo Mbeki - upbeat about prospects for a final deal on a unity government. Mugabe said there had been much progress. "We are signing tomorrow, we hope so." Tsvangirai was more cautious, saying, "There is very little work left." Mugabe is understood to have agreed to a new constitution, and that Tsvangirai serve on the national security council which has representatives from the army, police and intelligence services. Tsvangirai would also be the head of government in parliament. Sources said that the "dealbreaker", which Mugabe refused to sign, had been proposals to create equal executive power bases for him and Tsvangirai. The option of creating a platform of ministers chaired by Tsvangirai as prime minister was discussed. That body would make policy decisions and recommendations to a cabinet chaired by Mugabe, but effectively neutralising his powers.
Another proposal had been a council of state comprising the president, prime minister and their two deputies where final decisions would be made. Outstanding issues to be discussed today include the number of ministers for each party and how long the transition period would last. US and British diplomats who are key advisers to Tsvangirai told Business Day yesterday that Tsvangirai was unlikely to sign any agreement that did not give him enough powers as head of the government. Their governments did not support any deal in which Mugabe retained power and they would not provide development assistance to rebuild the economy if Mugabe remained in charge, they said. The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) defence committee postponed a meeting yesterday to discuss the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Clifford Mamba, principal secretary of Swaziland’s foreign ministry, said the meeting was postponed indefinitely to allow Mbeki more time to broker a power-sharing agreement. Mbeki will attend tomorrow’s meeting of the SADC defence committee, known as the security troika (Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola). Mbeki is understood to have told the parties that if there was no deal he would tell the SADC he had done his best as mediator, and that they "had failed as they were not serious about the negotiations". Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will give a limited number of licences to retailers to sell goods in foreign currency to ease food and fuel shortages after almost a decade of recession.