22 September 2008

Zimbabwe: Cabinet Talks on Hold Until Mugabe Returns From UN

Talks aimed at breaking a deadlock over the allocation of ministries for the proposed new government will have to wait until Robert Mugabe returns from a United Nations summit in New York.

Mugabe left the country at the weekend, despite failing to agree with political rivals Tsvangirai and Mutambara on how to share cabinet portfolios. With no proper government in place he still traveled to be with other world leaders at the 63rd annual plenary session of the UN General Assembly. Many felt the ZANU PF leader should have prioritized resolving the cabinet dispute, instead of embarking on a globe trotting exercise.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara last week referred the cabinet issue to their negotiators but by Sunday one of them, Welshman Ncube, confirmed they had in turn referred it back to the 'principals.' MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa last week said ZANU PF was insisting on controlling all the key ministries of Finance, Home Affairs, Defence, Information, Justice, Agriculture, Mines, Foreign Affairs, Higher Education, Youth and Women. He said this approach, 'literally rendered the government exclusive' to ZANU PF and the MDC were not going to accept that.

'What we want is genuine power sharing, not a false marriage,' Chamisa told Newsreel.

Out of 31 ministries set out in the agreement ZANU PF was allocated 15, Tsvangirai-MDC 13 and the Mutambara-MDC 3. The cabinet deadlock has heightened anxiety amongst expectant Zimbabweans who are desperate for a change. Analysts believe the ANC forced resignation of South African President Thabo Mbeki will now put Mugabe under pressure to resolve the impasse. Mbeki's expected successor, Jacob Zuma, has always advocated a tougher approach to Zimbabwe and Mugabe is only too aware he had an easy ride under Mbeki's presidency.

Meanwhile Macdonald Lewanika, the newly elected chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, says the MDC should not have signed a deal with ZANU PF if the issue of cabinet portfolios had not been resolved. He said it was in the ministries themselves that 'the power and authority resided' and an equitable share of power was necessary to make the deal work. Turning to Mugabe's UN trip he said the veteran leader wanted to use it as a, 'platform for his usual diatribe (against the West) and would not have missed it for the world.' He argued that Mugabe should have prioritized resolving domestic problems before going overseas.

Copyright © 2008 SW Radio Africa. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.