Zim rivals agree to seek Mbeki mediation

Zimbabwe’s political rivals agreed on Friday to seek renewed mediation from former South African president Thabo Mbeki to try to end the deadlock over posts in a unity government, the sides said.

President Robert Mugabe, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a breakaway MDC faction, failed again to agree on who gets key ministries under a power-sharing deal vital to ending devastating economic turmoil.

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF had previously said there was no immediate need for further mediation by Mbeki, who brokered the deal last month just days before he was forced to give up South Africa’s presidency by his ruling African National Congress.

“The three leaders agreed to call in the facilitator to assist in resolving the outstanding issues. An appeal will be made to the facilitator for him to travel to Zimbabwe,” said Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe’s chief negotiator.

Mbeki has agreed to continue his mediation in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), despite being ousted.

Tsvangirai’s MDC, which accuses Zanu-PF of trying to sideline it in the power-sharing government, had called for more help from Mbeki, SADC and African Union.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said Mugabe and Tsvangirai met for about an hour on Friday.

“It’s still a tale of a deadlock. There is now consensus that there is indeed a deadlock, so the intervention of the mediator becomes both imperative and inevitable,” Chamisa said.

He was unsure when Mbeki would travel to Harare.

“We’re hoping that maybe by the end of next week. Mugabe says he will be busy this weekend.”

Under the deal, Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980, would retain the presidency and chair the Cabinet, while Tsvangirai as prime minister would head a council of ministers supervising the cabinet.

Zimbabwe’s political crisis worsened in June when Mugabe was re-elected uncontested in a poll boycotted by Tsvangirai, citing attacks on his supporters.

Official data on Thursday showed annual inflation surged to 231-million percent in July, reminding the leaders of the dire economic situation and the need to form a government quickly to tackle the crisis.

Earlier on Friday, state-run I newspaper quoted Chinamasa as saying that the political leaders did not need to invite Mbeki—who had brokered a power-sharing accord—to mediate again over the composition of the new government.

“We should learn to overcome our challenges and as negotiating parties we feel that we should not find easy ways to avoid taking hard decisions,” Chinamasa was quoted as saying.—Reuters, AFP

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