South Africa’s president has proposed for a creation of a Prime Minister post for Morgan Tsvangirai but Robert Mugabe would remain president.
Under the power sharing arrangement Mugabe would stay in place until a new constitution has been negotiated and fresh elections held.
Friend or Foe ?
Sources say the plan included recognition of the first round vote in March won by Tsvangirai and added that Mugabe staying in place was acceptable to the MDC if it paved the way for a new constitution and vote.
A senior opposition Movement for Democratic Change source, who has seen the document, said that Mbeki had sent the plan to Mugabe and Tsvangirai and that it was generally welcomed by the MDC.
The opposition believes the proposal appears to represent a recognition by Mbeki — whom Tsvangirai had previously accused of “colluding with Mugabe to play down the deepening political crisis” — that the Zimbabwean president’s power is crumbling. But the MDC remains suspicious of Mbeki and is demanding that the African Union be a party to any deal to ensure it is adhered to.
Mbeki, the chief mediator in the crisis, met Mugabe in Harare on Saturday but Tsvangirai did not attend. Mugabe had said he would only enter talks if he was recognised as president but the MDC had dismissed this idea.
The MDC source say that all the basic ideas of the MDC were in the proposals. “The important thing is that it recognises the outcome of the March 29 election and that any government will be transitional on the way to new elections,” But Mugabe’s response to the plan is not yet clear.
In brief comments to reporters on Saturday, Mbeki said he hoped to meet with the MDC leader at a later stage but said the talks had still been worthwhile. “It was the view of the facilitators and the Zimbabwean leadership that we need to move with some speed,” said Mbeki who is the region’s long-time mediator between the Zimbabwean government and opposition. “We agreed that MDC-Tsvangirai has to be part of the negotiations so we are hoping that the process will take place with them.”
Mbeki said he had decided to come to Harare partly as a result of a request from Tsvangirai, who has previously called for the South African leader to be axed as the region’s mediator over his perceived bias towards Mugabe.
“We had agreed to the meeting yesterday, essentially to get agreement about broadly the framework the dialogue should follow,” he said. “Unfortunately when I arrived in Harare, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai said they would request that the meeting be postponed but this was after we had arrived.”
Mbeki said that Tsvangirai had indicated he wanted to wait until the African Union could bolster the Mbeki-led mediation effort.