Zimbabwe – Talks Break Up


Talks in South Africa on Zimbabwe’s political crisis broke up yesterday with no power-sharing deal achieved between President Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Just before their break-up, MDC chief spokesman George Sibotshiwe said: ‘The talks are in a deadlock.

‘We cannot discuss the main issues, we can only say that they are in a deadlock and that the parties will consult with their principals.

‘If the sticking points are resolved then the talks will resume.’

As negotiators flew home, chief mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki insisted that discussions were still on track.

He said: ‘They are adjourning for a number of days so that they could go back to Harare to consult with their principals and then come back.’

Tsvangirai had flown to Johannesburg on Monday amid claims by his party that the talks had run into trouble.

Tsvangirai and 84-year-old Mugabe signed an accord on July 21 to begin talks on sharing power after a months-long election crisis.

The talks, held at a secret location in the Pretoria area, are meant to be wrapped up within a fortnight of the signing of the initial framework agreement.

Mbeki further insisted: ‘It’s going very well.

‘In the memorandum of understanding they said they will try to conclude negotiations within two weeks.’

He added: ‘They are very determined to keep to that commitment.’

While Tsvangirai believes his victory in the first round of a presidential election in March should give him the right to the lion’s share of power, MDC officials have said that Mugabe’s negotiators are so far only offering him the chance to become a third vice president.

MDC officials said yesterday: ‘They have offered Morgan the post of third vice-president and nothing else, which is obviously a position totally unacceptable to the MDC.’

Up to yesterday, there has been no comment from Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF chief negotiators, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche.

During the course of the election run-off, Morgan Tsvangirai was detained on five separate occasions while campaigning and his number two, Tendai Biti, was arrested for treason.

The MDC leader, who had not gained enough votes to win outright in the first poll in March, subsequently pulled out of the contest after dozens of his party’s supporters were killed in attacks that he blamed on pro-Mugabe thugs.

Ignoring widespread calls to shelve the ballot, Mugabe went ahead and staged the poll, winning a predictable victory on a very low turn-out.

Annual inflation in Zimbabwe now stands at some 2.2 million per cent, with unemployment running at around 80% and even basics such as bread and cooking oil scarce in the region’s former ‘breadbasket’.