Zimbabwe: Mugabe Claims All Key Ministries

11 October 2008

President Robert Mugabe has made a bid to claim unilaterally key government ministries - including defence, foreign affairs and home affairs - in Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government. But his main opponents have rejected the move as "a giant act of madness."

The Herald newspaper, an organ of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, published a report on Saturday  saying that Mugabe had allocated ministries among the three parties which signed the country's recent power-sharing agreement. The newspaper said he had formally published the allocation in Zimbabwe's government gazette. It claimed that only the ministry of finance remained the subject of dispute between the parties.

But the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement saying Mugabe had acted unilaterally overnight on Friday night in a bid to pre-empt the intervention of former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the Southern African Development Community mediator on Zimbabwe. Mbeki is due in Zimbabwe within days.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Mugabe had gazetted the ministries only hours after parties had referred the logjam over all key ministries to Mbeki. Chamisa called the Herald report's list a "wish list of ministries" which was "a product of unilateral, contemptuous and outrageous machinations by Zanu-PF."

He said Mugabe's move "puts the whole deal into jeopardy. Zanu-PF cannot nocturnally allocate ministries barely hours after the three principals agreed to disagree by referring the matter to the mediator..."

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