Zim rivals resume power-sharing talks

Zimbabwean parties resumed talks on Wednesday aimed at rescuing a power-sharing deal, and state media said the discussions would focus on who gets control of the Finance Ministry.

Negotiations, mediated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, ended without agreement on Tuesday.

The Herald newspaper, controlled by President Robert Mugabe’s administration, said proposals would be tabled on leadership of the ministry crucial to reviving Zimbabwe’s ruined economy and attracting foreign investment.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of the agreement on Sunday after Mugabe allocated key ministries, including defence, home affairs—which oversees the police—and finance, to his Zanu-PF party.

Tsvangirai, who arrived at the talks venue along with Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, was cautious on the prospects of a breakthrough.

“Let’s hope so. We’re still negotiating,” he told reporters.

Mutambara was critical of all sides.

“As leaders, we’re debating the wrong things. The problem in Zimbabwe is a problem of leadership,” he said.

“Mutambara, Mugabe and Tsvangirai are masquerading as leaders, yet they’re musketeers. I’m here today to put an end to this nonsense. Shame on us.”

Mugabe and Tsvangirai said negotiations on Tuesday were not conclusive, but the Herald, quoting sources, said new proposals had been put forward and a deal was possible on Wednesday.

Neither MDC nor Zanu-PF officials were available to comment on the Herald report. Mugabe made no comments when he arrived at the talks venue at a Harare hotel.

The Herald said one proposal was for a nominated finance minister to have two deputy ministers from Tsvangirai’s MDC and a smaller breakaway faction of the party. Another option was to appoint a neutral person to the post.

A new government will have to tackle the world’s highest inflation rate of 231-million percent and severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.

Analysts say that although the power-sharing agreement could be in danger, the rivals are under pressure to reach a settlement. However, Mbeki may have less leverage in Zimbabwe after being ousted as South African president by his own party last month.

Mugabe’s party was stripped of a majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980 after a March 29 election which the opposition says he rigged to retain power.—Reuters

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