Zimbabwean rivals in SA for constitutional amendment talks

Zimbabwe's warring political parties are meeting in South Africa today to discuss the Draft Constitutional Bill that could pave way for President Robert Mugabe and his countrymen to form a unity government and to resolve outstanding issues on a proposed power-sharing government.

The power sharing deal signed on 15 September has been stalled due to
the fight over control of key ministries, including home affairs, which
is also in charge of the police.

Negotiators from the ruling Zanu-PF and the Movement for Demoractic
Change and a breakaway MDC faction are expected to meet former South
African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss the constitutional amendments
that are believed would at least enable the formation of a unity

Once approved, it would enable MDC leader Mr Tsvangirai to be sworn in as Prime Minister.

The MDC has refused to enter into any unity government before the
constitutional issue is resolved, accusing President Mugabe’s regime of
trying to take powerful ministries, violating the essence of the 15
September power sharing deal.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) ruled two weeks ago
that the MDC and ZANU PF jointly control the Ministry of Home Affairs
and ordered the rivals to immediately form a unity government. However,
the MDC rejected the ruling and accused SADC, which is the guarantor to
the power-sharing accord, of siding with Mr Mugabe.

Meanwhile, SADC chairman, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe,
while meeting Botswana’s President on Sunday, appealed to Zimbabwe’s
political parties to begin the constitutional processes that will
create a unity government.

"We agreed that with regards to Zimbabwe the next step really is to
ensure that we unblock the impasse for them to take amendment 19
through the senate and the assembly, so that Mr Tsvangirai could be
sworn in as prime minister and Arthur Mutambara as the vice prime
minister and Mr Mugabe as the president," President Motlanthe said.

The MDC, led by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first-round presidential
vote in March, when his party gained a majority in parliament, forcing
Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF into the minority for the first time since
independence in 1980.

Ordinary citizens in Zimbabwe, who are grappling with the world’s
highest inflation of 231 million percent, severe shortages of food and
basic commodities, had hoped a power-sharing government would be
quickly established to allow the country to focus on tackling an
economic crisis and starting to receive much needed foreign aid.

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