Zim rivals report some progress in power-sharing talks

Zim rivals report some progress in power-sharing talks
HARARE - A second day of talks to end Zimbabwe's crisis failed to produce a breakthrough on Tuesday but both President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said some progress had been made although there remained a few areas of disagreement.

We are going to talk. We are finishing tomorrow. We are making progress but there is lack of it in certain areas, principally one or two, Mugabe told reporters as he left the Harare Rainbow Towers hotel venue of the power-sharing talks late on Tuesday evening.  

Tsvangirai, who told a rally of his MDC party last Sunday that he would not agree to sign an power-sharing deal unless given full executive powers in a proposed government of national unity, told reporters there had been some positive development in the latest round of talks.

As you are aware talks have been dragging on for some time, but I must say there is positive development. We have not yet concluded. We are hoping that tomorrow we should be able to finish the few outstanding issues, said Tsvangirai, sounding much more optimistic than he has ever been since the talks started several months ago.

Officials of both the MDC and Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party had earlier in the day said chances of a breakthrough in the talks were remote despite a new proposal presented by talks mediator South African President Thabo Mbeki to try to break a deadlock over how to share executive power in a government of national unity.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agree he should remain president while the opposition leader becomes prime minister but are hopelessly divided over how to split power between them.

While it appeared from comments by Mugabe and Tsvangirai – the main protagonists in the talks that also include Arthur Mutambara, who heads a breakaway faction of the MDC – much progress may have been made on Tuesday the hardest part in the whole process remains the question of who will ultimately control the national unity government.

A source privy to Tuesday’s discussions said ZANU PF and MDC were still not agreed on who between Tsvangirai and Mugabe should chair Cabinet.

ZANU PF insists that Mugabe should chair Cabinet with Tsvangirai his deputy chair, while on the other hand the MDC says its leader should chair Cabinet and only give reports to Mugabe from time to time, said the source, who spoke on condition he was not named.

The source said there were still major differences over Mutambara’s role in the proposed government of national unity with Mugabe and the MDC faction leader saying he should be made a deputy prime minister.

Tsvangirai and his team are said to have objected to Mutambara being appointed deputy prime minister, saying there was no basis for the faction leader to get such a high post when he did not contest a national election.  

According to our source, the question of how to share Cabinet posts that has proved one of the most difficult issues facing the talks was not even touched on Tuesday and would be dealt with today.

Mugabe has in the past insisted he retains direct control of all the security ministries, clearly unwilling to give up influence and control over the army, police and secret service that have been the backbone of his 28-year iron fist rule.  

Tsvangirai on the other hand has demanded that as prime minister he should have control over all arms of government including the security forces. – ZimOnline

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