SADC in last-ditch effort to rescue GNU deal

* MDC exec meets today  *Motlanthe arrives tomorrow

HARARE – South African President Kgalema Motlanthe is expected in Harare tomorrow to settle the country’s deadlocked power-sharing deal.

The deal signed on September 15 has been stalled by President Robert Mugabe’s consistent refusal to honour the spirit and the letter of the agreement.

"The delegation will include President Guebuza of Mozambique and former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the facilitator in the Zimbabwe Inter-Party Dialogue," a statement from Motlanthe’s office said.

Meanwhile, the top leadership of the MDC is locked in a crucial meeting today to discuss its position and the way forward following the expected return to Zimbabwe by party President Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday.

Addressing a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Tsvangirai pledged to return home as he had finally received his passport, and highlighted how, in the four months since the signing of the GPA, the Zanu (PF) regime had frustrated every effort to make the deal work, violating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the Global Political Agreement on numerous occasions. 
Now it is time for Mugabe to show whether or not he is committed to this agreement by meeting with me and resolving these issues, said Tsvangirai. The MDC has made many painful compromises during this negotiation process. However, we will not and cannot accept responsibility without authority, as we have the mandate from the people to deliver a New Zimbabwe.

To the people of Zimbabwe, I salute your enduring resolve and remind you, nothing lives forever. The MDC will not betray your sacrifice. We represent your aspirations and hope, he added.

Guebeza is expected to chair Monday’s talks instead of Mbeki, who Tsvangirai has asked to be recused because he was biased in favour of Mugabe.

Mugabe’s chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa described Monday’s talks as "probably the last chance for a settlement." The talks with regional leaders were expected to "end the saga (and) bring finality one way or the other so that the country can move forward," he said.

Tsvangirai is scheduled to deliver a position paper demanding an equal share of the most powerful ministries. He has outlined five key issues he wants resolved:

1. National Security Council legislation to be put in place to determine the management and governance of all security departments of the country. Recent abductions, torture and the assault of innocent Zimbabweans are quoted as some of the reasons behind the need for this legislation.

2. The equitable allocation of ministries, as a matter of urgency.

3. The appointment of Provincial Governors and other senior officials in government, crucial to attaining genuine power sharing. 

4. The MDC requires the immediate cessation of abductions, illegal detentions and the crackdown on civil society organisations. It also seeks an end to the unilateral appointment of senior civil servants and the vile hate speech spewed by the state media. Anyone illegally detained is to be released unconditionally.

5. The roles of the President and Prime Minister to be defined by law, conditional on the successful enactment of amendment 19 to the constitution of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe claimed control of the police ministry when he unilaterally published a Cabinet list in early October. A subsequent full extra-ordinary SADC summit held in Johannesburg on October 27 recommended that Zanu (PF) and the MDC share control of the Home Affairs ministry, a recommendation rejected by Tsvangirai as a "nullity."

Tsvangirai has been under intense pressure from within his party not to yield control of the police, blamed for some of the political violence against his supporters surrounding elections in March and June.

"This is a painless exercise if it is done in utmost good faith," Tsvangirai said. "It is therefore necessary that it be done as a matter of urgency."

Despite winning only four provinces in cumulative votes from the March 29 harmonised elections, Mugabe has appointed 10 governors all from his Zanu (PF) party.

Tsvangirai has also taken great exception to the appointment of Zanu (PF) supporter Johannes Tomana to the post of Attorney General without consultation with the MDC as the power-sharing deal requires. He has also complained that the unilateral renewal of the mandate of the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono without consultation with the MDC was in contravention of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the global political agreement (GPA).

"Therefore as far as we are concerned they are null and void," Tsvangirai said. "In the letter and spirit of the GPA they should have been done in consultation with me."

In the past three months, the regime has arrested and held dozens of civil and MDC activists, accused of recruiting people to undergo military training in Botswana to topple Mugabe. These allegations have been laughed off by regional leaders, including by Motlanthe.

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