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by Nokuthula Sibanda
PRESIDENT MUGABE . . . we are very hopeful
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s rival political leaders expressed hope they would break a deadlock over sharing of key Cabinet posts in a proposed power-sharing government as they resumed talks on Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe told reporters at Harare’s Rainbow Towers hotel where talks are taking place that he was “very hopeful” that an agreement could be reached today in the negotiations.

Negotiations, mediated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, ended without agreement on Tuesday.

Mbeki returned to Harare on Monday night on an urgent mission to salvage a historic power-sharing deal that he brokered nearly a month ago between Mugabe and MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

The deal has looked in danger of failing after Mugabe last weekend unilaterally allocated the key ministries of defence, home and foreign affairs, information, local government and provisionally finance to his ruling ZANU PF before conclusion of negotiations with the MDC.

Main MDC leader Tsvangirai has said he will quit the deal if the new efforts by Mbeki to end the impasse over Cabinet ministries did not yield positive results. Tsvangirai says fresh elections would have to be called if the power-sharing deal collapses.

The opposition leader appeared more cautious as talks resumed but said he still hoped a compromise could be reached when asked by reporters whether he expected the latest round of negotiations to end the stalemate over ministerial positions.

“Lets hope so, we are still discussing,” he said.

Mutambara criticised Zimbabwe political leaders, including himself for bickering over government jobs while the country’s unprecedented economic and food crisis worsened.

“As leaders, we’re debating the wrong things. The problem in Zimbabwe is a problem of leadership,” he said. “Mutambara, Mugabe and Tsvangirai are masquerading as leaders, yet they’re musketeers. I’m here today to put an end to this nonsense. Shame on us.”

In a report on Wednesday the state-controlled Herald newspaper claimed several proposals had been tabled on Tuesday to try to resolve the question of who controls the ministry of finance which it said was the only major point still outstanding.

The paper said one proposal was for ZANU PF to nominate a finance minister who would have two deputy ministers appointed by Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

Alternatively, Tsvangirai could name a finance minister while Mugabe and Mutambara would appoint the two deputies, and yet another option was to appoint a neutral person to the post, the newspaper reported.

Both ZANU PF and the MDC have not commented on the report by the government newspaper.

A power-sharing government is seen as the first step to ending Zimbabwe’s unprecedented economic crisis that is seen in the world’s highest inflation rate of 231 million percent, shortages of every basic survival commodity amid deepening poverty. – ZimOnline.
Source: ZimOline