Saturday, September 06, 2008

South African President Mbeki to Arrive in Zimbabwe Monday for Stalled Unity Talks

Mbeki now due next week

Herald Reporter

SOUTH AFRICAN President Thabo Mbeki is now scheduled to visit Zimbabwe next week as he tries to make MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai sign a power-sharing deal agreed to by the other main political parties, Zanu-PF principal negotiator Cde Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday.

He said the Sadc-appointed facilitator in the dialogue between Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC had rescheduled the trip after failing to make it to Harare yesterday.

"He (President Mbeki) has not been able to make it today (yesterday) and I am made to understand the trip has been postponed to next week," Cde Chinamasa said.

President Mbeki was yesterday expected to jet into the country to get Tsvangirai to append his signature to an accord that was agreed to by President Mugabe and MDC leader Arthur Mutambara.

The power-sharing agreement was reached after marathon meetings at secret locations in Pretoria and Cape Town among negotiators from the three political parties.

Cde Chinamasa and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Cde Nicholas Goche represented the ruling Zanu-PF while MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti and the party’s deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma, negotiated on behalf of Tsvangirai’s group at the talks in South Africa.

Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga represented MDC.

The parties’ principals — President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara — later met in Harare before President Mbeki and agreed to the power-sharing deal, but Tsvangirai withheld his signature at the 11th hour.

He asked for what he called time to "consult and reflect" over a single issue in the agreement which made him Prime Minister and deputy chair of Cabinet with President Mugabe as chair.

A Sadc summit in South Africa last month endorsed the power-sharing agreement, but Tsvangirai refused to sign it before embarking on a 10-nation tour of the region as part of his "consultations".

However, the regional summit gave President Mugabe the green light to convene Parliament, which he did last Tuesday.

MDC-T national chairman Lovemore Moyo was elected Speaker with MDC legislator Nomalanga Khumalo landing the Deputy Speaker’s post.

The ruling party’s Cde Edna Madzongwe and Cde Naison Ndlovu were retained as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.

President Mugabe has, however, said he would proceed to appoint Cabinet if Tsvangirai does not sign the agreement "as the country cannot be frozen forever’’.

Cde Mugabe said the British government that did not want an agreement between Zanu-PF and MDC was compromising Tsvangirai.

He said Britain and her allies wanted sanctions to continue, pushing the Government into a power-transfer agreement with MDC-T.

President Mugabe has said he was empowered by the people after the June 27 presidential election run-off and Zanu-PF would form the next Government even if Tsvangirai refuses to sign the power-sharing agreement.

Mbeki Cancels Trip as Tsvangirai Spurns 'Hopeless' Meeting

Business Day (Johannesburg)
5 September 2008
By Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki was forced to cancel his trip to Zimbabwe to try to break the power-sharing talks deadlock after opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangiari told him he would not attend.

Sources said yesterday Tsvangiari wrote a letter to Mbeki on Tuesday telling him he would not be in Harare to attend the talks , compelling Mbeki to cancel his visit scheduled for yesterday.

"Tsvangirai did not want to attend what he thought would be a hopeless meeting that would not result in any progress," the source said.

Mbeki's office confirmed the trip was off. Tsvangirai is said to have confirmed his position to Mbeki in Zambia on Wednesday at the late president Levy Mwanawasa's funeral.

Sources said Tsvangirai's communication to Mbeki on Tuesday explained his remarks on Radio 702 on Wednesday when he said he was not aware of plans to resume talks soon. Tsvangirai told Radio 702 that the power-sharing negotiations had broken down and were unlikely to resume soon.

Tsvangirai has rejected the post of prime minister, saying it would not give him enough executive powers in government.

He said President Robert Mugabe wanted to retain control of the security ministries, and thus the army, police and intelligence, to protect his position. Mugabe also had contact with Mbeki in Lusaka where he reportedly told him he would be proceeding with his plans to announce a new cabinet and form a government. Mugabe is said to be planning to appoint his cabinet today or over the weekend.

Initially, Mugabe wanted to announce his cabinet in July before the African Union (AU) summit in Egypt but was stopped by Mbeki. Last week, Mugabe threatened to name his cabinet and was supposed to do so last Sunday but was again blocked by Mbeki who wanted to make a last-ditch bid to secure a deal. Meetings were held in Pretoria over the weekend, but no deal could be concluded.

Sources said Tsvangirai snubbed Mbeki due to a growing realisation in the MDC that the negotiations would not produce anything. The MDC claims Mbeki is effectively protecting Mugabe in the talks by insisting Tsvangirai should sign a "raw deal".

Part of the problem, sources said, was that Mbeki recently refused to meet Tsvangirai and the MDC leader was "merely hitting back" over that issue.

Mbeki's abortive trip to Harare gives Mugabe the pretext to go ahead and appoint his cabinet without MDC involvement. Mugabe, under growing pressure from hardliners near to him to go it alone, said on Wednesday if Tsvangirai did not sign the agreement by yesterday he would proceed unilaterally to appoint his cabinet.

"We feel frozen at the moment," Mugabe said in Zambia on Wednesday. " We are a government that is empowered by elections. So we should form a cabinet. We will not allow a situation where we will not have a cabinet forever."

Mugabe was defeated by Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential election in March but the MDC leader pulled out of a cutthroat runoff in June, citing political violence . Mugabe claimed victory, but this was rejected by Southern African Development Community and African Union observers. A number of African and world leaders refused to recognise his win.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Chief Ojo Maduekwe on Tuesday said Abuja did not recognise Mugabe, adding Zimbabweans deserve "a lot better".

"We are also concerned that there should be no meltdown in Zimbabwe. The economy is already in tatters , and the inflation rate is over 1-million percent . The people of Zimbabwe deserve a lot better than they are going through," he said.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said yesterday: "Negotiations don't work on the basis of political threats and ultimatums. We are equal partners in the talks and we want to make it very clear that we won't be intimidated or stampeded into signing a raw deal."

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