Why Zimbabwe talks collapsed

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's power sharing talks broke down earlier this week after President Robert Mugabe blatantly refused to relinquish his wide-sweeping executive powers, a senior opposition figure has revealed.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party chairman Lovemore Moyo said the talks led by South African President Thabo Mbeki hit deadlock after Mugabe insisted that he should appoint the new government and chair Cabinet meetings.

Under the proposal by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would be appointed prime minister with oversight over some ministries but virtually little else to do.

The deadlock in the talks arose out of a disagreement on who should have executive powers between the president and the prime minister and we could not agree on that as the two parties, said Moyo in the first official disclosure of the single element of disagreement that Mbeki had said caused talks to stall.

Mbeki has refused to say out publicly what the single element of disagreement was but journalists have throughout the week rightly speculated that Zimbabwe’s rival political leaders failed to agree on who between them should wield real power in the unity government.

Moyo, who is part of the MDC’s team of negotiators, said: ZANU PF proposed that Mugabe should have executive powers and should appoint Cabinet and chair its meetings while the prime minister should lead certain ministries and have no powers. We felt it would be wrong for the MDC to accept Mugabe as executive president.

Tsvangirai vehemently resisted being appointed nominal prime minister and instead demanded that he be given all executive power because he defeated Mugabe in the March 29 presidential election.  

At that point, talks had to be called off because it was clear neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai was ready to compromise on their demands.

In a statement on Wednesday, Tsvangirai made the same call that any power-sharing agreement should be based on the March elections won by himself and his party, although the MDC leader failed to secure the margin required to takeover power.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round run-off election on June 27 because of violence against his supporters. Mugabe went on to with he run-off in which he was the only candidate and insists that any agreement with his rival should recognise his victory in a poll discredited by both Western and African governments.

The talks that in addition to Mugabe and Tsvangirai also included Arthur Mutambara, who heads a breakaway MDC faction, started last Sunday amid high optimism that a deal was within reach.

Leaked information from the highly secretive talks suggesting that the parties had reached agreement on several key issues and that there could be a positive end to the dialogue immediately sparked hope across crisis-weary Zimbabwe.

But hope slowly began to turn into disillusion as the talks dragged on amid reports they could collapse over Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s differences on how to divide power between themselves.

Mbeki has remained optimistic, telling journalists in Angola on Wednesday that talks would be resumed in the future and that a deal could still be achieved.  – ZimOnline

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