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Tsvangirai threatens end to Zim deal

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai threatened on Sunday to pull out of a fragile power-sharing deal if President Robert Mugabe moved ahead with plans to hand key ministries to his own party.

”If they [Zanu-PF] do it that way, we have no right to be part of such an arrangement,” Tsvangirai told a rally in Harare attended by about 8 000 of his supporters in his first public reaction to Mugabe’s shock announcement.

”The people have suffered. But if it means suffering the more in order for them to get what is at stake, then so be it. We will renegotiate until an agreement is reached but that does not mean we will compromise for the sake of it,” he said in a mixture of his native Shona and English languages.

”We had thought that they would be reasonable and equitable in power-sharing. If you say all the 15 ministries which are key are mine [referring to the ruling Zanu-PF], we [in the MDC] disagree,” he said.

Talks on implementing a stalled September 15 power-sharing agreement in Harare were branded as dead on Sunday by opposition leaders soured by Mugabe’s weekend unilateral decision to award key posts to his ruling party.

”We signed the agreement because we believed in equality of parties,” added Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), at the Harare township of Highfield.

The chief mediator in the talks, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, will on Monday in Harare seek to hold discussions with each of the three parties which signed up to the power-sharing accord.

Earlier on Sunday, an outraged MDC accused Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, of killing off the power-sharing deal brokered by Mbeki and hailed as historic when it was signed last month.

”It [Mugabe’s action] kills the talks completely,” MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said on South Africa’s SAFM radio.

”This flies in the face of the dialogue and an attempt by SADC [Southern African Development Community] to help us out of this crisis,” Chamisa said.

He implored Mbeki and the 15-member SADC to rescue the agreement. ”Mr Mbeki, please help Zimbabwe. We need your help. We also need the help of and support of the SADC,” he said.

Mbeki has been the SADC-appointed mediator for Zimbabwe’s months-long political crisis.

”The allocation of the ministries and all other issues will be discussed in Harare when he meets that country’s political leaders,” Mbeki spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said of Monday’s visit.

A government notice carried by the state-run Herald newspaper said on Saturday that Mugabe had given his Zanu-PF party 14 ministries, including defence, home and foreign affairs, justice, local government and state media.

Mugabe’s decision means he would effectively retain control of the army, police and other state security apparatus.

Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesperson for a breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara that also signed the September 15 deal, condemned the move as ”hallucination on the part of Zanu-PF”.

”That list is what they wish to happen. It was not agreed on,” he said.

According to Saturday’s report, Tsvangirai’s MDC would get 13 mostly less significant portfolios while Mutambara’s faction would get three ministries.

Efforts to form the government have bogged down over disputes about who will control the most important ministries, such as defence, home affairs and finance.

Zimbabwe is now a far cry from the model regional economy and breadbasket it once was. Inflation soared to 231-million percent in July, while food and basic goods are critically understocked and unemployment rampant. — Sapa-AFP

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Fanuel Jongwe
AFP Journalist.

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