It’s A Deal!

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THE ruling Zanu PF and the main opposition MDC last night reached a landmark power-sharing agreement that will result in President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai jointly running an inclusive government.

 

The agreement — reached after four days of intense negotiations — leaves Mugabe as head of state and government with Tsvangirai becoming coordinator of government affairs. Sources said Mugabe would chair cabinet while Tsvangirai, who would be responsible for policy formulation and implementation, would preside over a council of ministers. Cabinet and the council of ministers will liaise on government affairs and policy issues.

Cabinet, appointed by virtue of the agreement but officially announced by Mugabe, would be the policy decision-making body while the Council of Ministers would be a liason platform.

Mugabe would retain control of state security affairs while Tsvangirai would supervise ministers and deal with day-to-day government issues, it was said.

The main highlights of the agreement, to be made public on Monday, include;

*President, two deputies and prime minister and two deputies;

*Mugabe, as head of state and government, to chair cabinet of 31 ministers;

*Tsvangirai to preside over a council of ministers, supervises ministers, formulates and implements policies, sits in National Security Council (JOC) and heads government business in parliament;

*Zanu PF to have 15 ministers, Tsvangirai’s MDC faction 13 and the Arthur Mutambara group 3. Deputy ministers to be shared in a proportional way; Zanu 8, MDC-T 6 and MDC-M 1.

*Provincial governors to be shared among the three parties;

*No by-elections for a year. If any party loses an MP it will automatically fill in the vacancy without an election;

*Constitutional Amendment No 19 to be made to facilitate implementation of the agreement;

*New constitution after 18 months.

A proposal to have a council of state headed by Mugabe, including his two vice-presidents, the prime minister and the two deputy prime ministers and a cabinet chaired by Tsvangirai as a power-sharing mechanism, was rejected by Zanu PF as unworkable.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, the mediator in the talks between Zanu PF and two MDC factions, told journalists last night at a local hotel a deal had been reached and a signing ceremony would be on Monday at 10am.

“An agreement has been reached on all matters on the agenda. There will be a signing ceremony on Monday at 10:00 here in Harare. The leaders endorsed the document tonight and signed. It was a unanimous agreement arrived at without any reservations,” Mbeki said.

“I am absolutely, absolutely certain that the leadership of Zimbabwe is committed to implementing the agreement. They carry a common responsibility to address the challenges facing the country.”

Tsvangirai told journalists that “we have got a deal” soon after the negotiations.

Mbeki said regional and African leaders would be in Harare on Monday to witness the signing ceremony. He said local and African leaders would have to work together to mobilise resources needed for Zimbabwe’s socio-economy recovery.

Mbeki appealed to the international community to support the agreement which he described as locally-made.

“It’s made in Zimbabwe, it’s made by Zimbabweans, the rest of the world needs to respect that the people of Zimbabwe have taken a decision about their own country,” Mbeki said. “It’s inevitable it will succeed.”

However, power-sharing talks in governments of national unity (GNU) have mainly failed in post-colonial Africa. They failed in Angola, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and even in South Africa. In Kenya, GNU is in intensive care unit.

Mbeki said the world must respect the agreement because he had fears that Western countries who were either sceptical or opposed his mediation could refuse to endorse the deal and provide financial aid to revive the economy. The United States and Britain, who have pledged financial support, had reservations about Mbeki’s mediation.

Mbeki is said to have been already mobilising resources for Zimbabwe. It is said he managed to negotiate with the African Development Bank (ADB) to provide US$1 billion to help resuscitate Zimbabwe’s economy. This is one of the carrots that Mbeki dangled to persuade negotiating parties to sign. The money would come in two tranches of US$500 million. However, Zimbabwe owes the ADB in excess of US$5 billion. ADB president Donald Kaberuka on Monday addressed negotiators and promised financial assistance if a deal was reached but did not mention figures. He said the ADB was prepared to reschedule or cancel Zimbabwe’s debt. He also said his bank would coordinate international assistance for Zimbabwe.

South Africa a few years ago wanted to loan Zimbabwe US$1 billion to help resuscitate the economy. Zimbabwe’s economy has virtually collapsed with annual inflation officially above 11 million percent. Government on Wednesday dollarised the economy due to inflation and a continued crash of the local currency.

Mbeki said although the talks were dragging he was not worried because SA had been in convoluted negotiations elsewhere in Africa in countries such Lesotho, Burundi, Comoros, DRC and Ivory Coast. He said he was unfazed by criticism of his quiet diplomacy “because diplomacy is quiet anyway”. He said there had never been any fears that the Zimbabwe crisis if left unresolved would affect South Africa’s hosting of the soccer World Cup.

By Dumisani Muleya/Constantine Chimakure

 

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