Mbeki expected in Zimbabwe for power-sharing agreement negotiations

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South African leader Thabo Mbeki will jet in Zimbabwe Saturday afternoon to meet with the country’s political rivals to nudge them towards signing a power-sharing agreement.

Mbeki would meet Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as the leader of a smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara.

It is not yet clear whether Mbeki would meet with the leaders individually or in one session.

A group of six senior officials from the three parties broke off from two weeks of negotiations on Thursday with a draft power sharing deal which must be approved by their parties.

Speculation is that the parties would sign the power sharing deal this weekened.

The Zimbabwe rivals were persuaded to enter into power-sharing talks by SADC and the African Union following a disputed June 27 presidential election run-off which Tsvangirai did not contest, leaving Mugabe to romp to an 85 percent landslide victory.

Tsvangirai accused his rival of using violence to stay in power, and the election was widely condemned as a farce.

A power sharing deal, say sources, will likely see a constitutional amendment that will create a position of Prime Minister for Tsvangirai.

Mugabe is seen remaining President with executive powers. Cabinet posts will be shared between the three parties.

Mugabe said on Thursday the talks were going well but dismissed as nonsense media reports about a draft agreement under which Tsvangirai would run the country as prime minister while Mugabe would become ceremonial president.

However it is felt that even if Zimbabwe’s government and opposition reach a power-sharing deal soon, real progress in rebuilding the shattered economy will depend on agreement from both security chiefs and Western powers.

Such an agreement would not turn around the ruined economy unless Western powers threw massive financial backing behind it.

The army and police chiefs are widely believed to have strengthened Mugabe’s resolve after he lost a first round presidential vote on March 29.

John Makumbe, a political commentator and Mugabe critic, is quoted as saying a political deal that left Mugabe with key powers could split the opposition.

“Mugabe has been the problem, and if he is allowed to have overwhelming power and allowed to dominate, there may be others in the MDC who will find that unacceptable and will break away from Tsvangirai’s leadership,” he said.

“It will be a difficult scenario, but there are people who are wary about being cheated by Mugabe,” he added.

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