Mugabe,Tsvangirai In Decisive Meeting

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his political rival Morgan Tsvangirai are expected to hold a make or break meeting on Sunday in Harare under President Thabo Mbeki’s chairmanship to endorse a power-sharing deal struck in Pretoria yesterday.

 

The meeting will decide whether or not the Zanu PF and the opposition MDC draft agreement would be approved by their principals.

Informed sources said a final agreement was expected on Sunday, although the talks ended yesterday.

Mbeki and his team are expected to fly into Harare either tomorrow or on Sunday morning for the meeting. Zanu PF and MDC negotiators started returning home last night.

There was speculation Mbeki would travel to Harare during the week but this was not possible before negotiators finished their task to pave way for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to meet to resolve “sticking points”.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are said to have been in touch while talks were going on in a bid to reach common ground on the contentious issues of powers and positions after their initial meeting on July 21.

If the final agreement is signed on Sunday, it is said, Tsvangirai would appear for the first time since he founded the MDC in 1999 at a national event with Mugabe during Heroes’ Day commemorations on Monday and Defence Forces Day on Tuesday. The holidays are held to honour heroes of Zimbabwe’s anti-colonial struggle.

Mbeki is said to be anxious to have an agreement before the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in Pretoria on August 16. Sadc last year tasked Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe’s political impasse.

Negotiating parties have already agreed on a number of issues but need to deal with the roles, powers and functions of Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The other issues to be finalised are transitional mechanisms and the period of transition. Zanu PF wants a five-year transition, while the MDC prefers two years.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai would also tackle other contentious issues such as the draft constitution, the post of Speaker of Parliament and provincial governors that have triggered heated exchanges during the negotiations. All three negotiating parties want the position of Speaker and this has delayed the final deal. There is also disagreement on governors.

The parties initially wanted to share governors, five each, but a new suggestion to scrap the posts has come up. It is understood the positions of governors might be dissolved, like those of executive mayors, and in their place there would be more appointed senators to accommodate Zanu PF and MDC officials without parliamentary seats.

In terms of the constitution, for one to be in cabinet they need to be in parliament. Mugabe has avoided appointing a new cabinet and swearing in parliament to give talks a chance.

The proposal at the moment is to increase the number of appointed senators from five to 11. A Constitutional Amendment (No19) has been suggested to facilitate the deal if there is no transitional constitution.

“There are several issues which Mugabe and Tsvangirai would have to agree upon before a final agreement could be signed,” a source said. “It is expected these matters would be dealt with once and for all on Sunday and an agreement should be signed afterwards.”

Sources said Mugabe and Tsvangirai would be engaged mainly on the proposed government structure, likely to be hybrid system, and who would occupy which position and with what powers. A French-style cohabitation system is likely to be adopted as the framework for the new government expected to have 38 ministers.

Sources said the draft agreement to be closely discussed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai on Sunday and possibly signed afterwards includes the posts of;
*Executive president;
*Three vice-presidents;
*Prime minister and
*Three deputy prime ministers.

Mugabe would be the president with his deputies in Zanu PF, Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, as well as Tsvangirai’s second-in-command in his MDC faction, Thoko Thokozani Khupe, as vice-presidents.

Tsvangirai would become prime minister, with three deputies who would include his nominee who is not yet decided on as there are several names being suggested, the other MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara, and Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo.

If Nkomo is not included, Zanu PF bigwig Emmerson Mnangagwa could become one of the deputy prime ministers.  Mugabe on Tuesday dispatched Nkomo, Mnangagwa, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Zanu PF Women’s League head and senior politburo member Oppah Muchinguri to bolster his negotiating team at the talks. The support group attended the talks for the first time on Wednesday. Tsvangirai initially proposed he become prime minister, while Mugabe would be ceremonial president in a move which would return the country to the parliamentary system of the 1980s. This is the proposal which is being presented in some circles as a “draft agreement” when in fact it was just an MDC plan.

Mugabe’s hardline Zanu PF politburo resolved on July 23 his position is “non-negotiable”. It is said Mugabe is only prepared to shed some of his powers to Tsvangirai, and not all of them as the MDC wanted.

If Mugabe and Tsvangirai agree on Sunday, Mugabe in his capacity as president would appoint the cabinet and the prime minister. Tsvangirai might be allowed to preside over cabinet and the legislature, although the problem is his party does not command a clear majority in parliament.

Sources said if Tsvangirai had sealed a coalition deal with Mutambara to firmly take control of parliament in an unassailable way, he would have been almost guaranteed the post of premier –– head of government.

By Dumisani Muleya

 

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