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Zim opposition to have Cabinet majority

Zimbabwe’s two opposition factions will have one more Cabinet seat than the Zanu-PF party of President Robert Mugabe under a power-sharing deal, an opposition senator said on Friday.

Senator David Coltart, a senior member of the smaller breakaway faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said in an email that Morgan Tsvangirai’s main group would have 13 Cabinet seats, Zanu-PF 15 seats and his group three seats.

This was based on votes cast for the parties rather than seats won in a March 29 election in which Zanu-PF lost control of Parliament for the first time since independence in 1980.

Coltart said Mugabe’s power would be greatly reduced under the deal and Tsvangirai, in the new role of prime minister, would have substantial but not absolute power.

Mugabe, who has ruled with an iron hand since independence, would remain as president and chair the Cabinet while Tsvangirai would head a council of ministers.

The latter would supervise the Cabinet, Coltart said. He confirmed the email to Reuters by phone.

Both sides said on Thursday they had reached a power-sharing deal after two months of negotiations following a deep post-election crisis, but they said details would not be released until a ceremony on Monday.

Zimbabweans are desperate for an end to a crisis that has destroyed the economy, saddling the once-prosperous country with the world’s highest rate of hyper-inflation and sending millions of refugees into neighbouring countries.

Inclusive government
Coltart, secretary for legal affairs in the MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara, said the deal would allow the creation of an inclusive government that would initiate a process of constitutional reform lasting 18 months.

This process would end with the creation of a new democratic constitution, including setting of a date for new elections.

”The inclusive government will have Robert Mugabe as president with greatly reduced powers to those he enjoys today … Morgan Tsvangirai will be prime minister. Although he does not have absolute power, he does have substantial power,” Coltart said.

He added that Tsvangirai would advise Mugabe on all future appointments, including those of judges.

Coltart said Tsvangirai would be vice-chairperson of the Cabinet. There would be two largely ceremonial vice-presidents from Zanu-PF.

In addition, Mugabe’s party would have eight deputy ministers, Tsvangirai’s MDC six and Mutambara’s faction one.

”If the two MDC factions work together, which they must in the national interest, they will enjoy a majority in Cabinet,” Coltart said.

The European Union is reconsidering whether to extend sanctions against Mugabe’s party in the light of the power-sharing agreement, the French presidency of the bloc said on Friday.

”We need to study the agreement and assess the commitments of the parties,” a presidency official told a news briefing.

”We will be considering this over the course of the day and the weekend, and we will see how and to what extent, and there may be adjustments in the initial draft conclusions,” the official said of previous plans by EU foreign ministers to announce an extension of sanctions on Monday. — Reuters

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