Africa

AU's patience with Zim wears thin

George Obulutsa

African Union chair Tanzania wants to see a 50-50 power-sharing deal agreed for Zimbabwe immediately to stem a growing economic crisis.

African Union chair Tanzania wants to see a 50-50 power-sharing deal agreed for Zimbabwe immediately to stem a growing economic crisis, Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said talks with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF that resumed on Friday in South Africa did not reach agreement.

“There is a problem and we still hope the mediation will continue and we still hope wisdom will prevail,” Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said in Dar es Salaam.

“We would prefer a solution be arrived at immediately because of the escalating economic crisis. We still pray that a solution will be found towards a 50% power-sharing solution,” he told reporters in Tanzania’s commercial capital.

On Friday, negotiators from Zanu-PF, the MDC and a smaller breakaway MDC faction separately met South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating the discussions.

The power-sharing talks have stalled over how to share executive power between Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who refused to sign an agreement two weeks ago that would have made him prime minister.

Tsvangirai protested against the proposed deal, saying it did not give him enough executive powers.

The opposition leader beat Mugabe in a March 29 election but fell short of enough votes to avoid a run-off vote, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence and intimidation against his supporters.

The economic price of the deadlock is rising by the day.

The hardships—inflation of more than 11-million percent is the world’s highest—have already driven millions of Zimbabweans to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Critics say Mugabe’s policies, such as seizing white-owned commercial farms and handing them to black farmers, have ruined the country’s once-prosperous agriculture sector.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, blames Western sanctions for the nation’s economic collapse.

Not all Zim aid agencies can get back to work
Meanwhile, not all Zimbabwean aid agencies can get back to work, despite a government announcement that a ban had been lifted.

“The state effectively wants to increase control over” independent aid groups, said Fambai Ngirande on Monday, spokesperson for the National Association of NGOs, after a day-long meeting with government welfare officials. He said security officials were also at the meeting.

The government had called the aid groups to the meeting after announcing on Friday that it was lifting a ban imposed almost three months ago when accusing independent aid groups of supporting opposition activists.

“The state will only recognise the more welfare-oriented NGOs, which are registered as private voluntary organisations. Other NGOs will remain under suspension,” Ngirande said

He said groups allowed to resume work had been asked to resubmit registration information, including details about their staff and the amount of food they were importing to distribute, and would have to work closely with local authorities.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment. - AFP, Reuters

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