Zimbabwe defers power-sharing Bill

power_sharing.jpgHARARE - Zimbabwe has deferred to next week passing a constitutional amendment Bill that will give legal effect to a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition.

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 Bill that should have been
tabled in Parliament tomorrow will create the office of prime minister
to be occupied by main opposition MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and the offices of two deputy prime ministers.

Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller MDC formation and Thokozani
Khupe, who is Tsvangirai's deputy in the main MDC, will be the two
deputy prime ministers in a government of national unity headed by

Joram Gumbo, ZANU PF chief whip in the House of Assembly, said the
tabling of the Bill was postponed because Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa had left Zimbabwe for South Africa on Tuesday night to attend
a meeting of negotiators of the power-sharing deal.

The meeting in South Africa is meant to resolve the outstanding issues
of the power-sharing pact, among them, appointment of governors,
ambassadors and permanent secretaries and a draft National Security
Council Bill.

Chinamasa was charged by the government to steer the constitutional
amendment Bill through the House of Assembly and the Senate, according
to Gumbo.

"The Bill will no longer be introduced into the House of Assembly on
Wednesday and Thursday as earlier planned," Gumbo said. "It will be
tabled next Tuesday and Wednesday in the respective houses. The
postponement was a result of the meeting of negotiators in South

Chinamasa is ZANU PF's chief negotiator. He left Harare in the company
of his co-negotiators – Nicholas Goche and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

On Tuesday, the MDC-T complained that ZANU PF was backtracking on the
implementation of the inclusive deal after Chinamasa and Goche failed
to attend a meeting of negotiators in South Africa.

MDC-T negotiators Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma and their counterparts
from the smaller MDC faction – Welshman Ncube and Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga – flew to South Africa on Tuesday morning where
they were told that ZANU PF representatives would not join them because
they were still waiting for instruction from Mugabe.

Mugabe was away in Ethiopia for the African Union summit.

State media quoted Chinamasa today as saying ZANU PF negotiators had
not travelled to South Africa on Tuesday because they were not aware
they were to meet their opposition counterparts there.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) last week directed
Zimbabwe's rival political parties to urgently form a unity government,
ordering that outstanding issues on power-sharing be dealt with between
the parties' negotiators before a unity government is put in place by
February 13.

Regional leaders hope a unity government will help ease Zimbabwe's
political crisis and allow the country to focus on tackling an
unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis marked by
hyperinflation, acute shortages of food and basic commodities, amid a
cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3 000 Zimbabweans since

But many are skeptical that the unity government will last or work,
given the mistrust and deep-seated animosity between especially Mugabe
and Tsvangirai.

A lukewarm response to the idea of a unity government by Western
countries – whose financial support is critical to any programme to
revive Zimbabwe's comatose economy – has raised fears there may be no
instant flow of aid to the southern African country. – ZimOnline

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