Robert Mugabe and his political rival Morgan Tsvangira last night lived up to expectations that they would again fail to reach an agreement over power-sharing. After a 12-hour meeting between regional leaders, Mugabe and his opposition rivals Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara it ended inconclusively.
“The meeting was not conclusive and … on 25th January, the chairman of SADC is going to report to an extraordinary summit of SADC on the meeting held in Harare,” Southern African Development Community executive secretary Tomaz Salomao told reporters.
It was yet another attempt to try to push the rival Zimbabwe parties to implement September’s power-sharing agreement which has stalled amid fighting over who should control which ministries.
A unity government, delayed over the distribution of cabinet posts, is seen as the best chance of preventing total collapse in once prosperous Zimbabwe, where prices double every day and over 2,000 people have died in a cholera epidemic.
At the meeting Tsvangirai insisted on controlling several “key ministries” before any government can be formed with Mugabe, suggesting no progress had been made on the main hurdle.
“This is a sad day for Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai told reporters upon emerging from the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare. He said he is still much committed to the power-sharing deal, but said Zanu PF must show its sincerity by making further concessions.
On his part Mugabe told reporters “the meeting was not successful; it broke down.” He said he would continue talks with Tsvangirai in Harare to see if they can find common ground, before taking the discussion to the SADC summit.
Mutambara, like Tsvangirai, declared it “a sad day” for the country. He said the talks failed because Mugabe and Tsvangirai could not agree, calling their positions “untenable”. He said Zimbabwe “deserves better leaders than Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.”
If an aggreement had been reached on Monday a swearing-in of the Prime Minister and the two Deputies would have been held by January 24 after which Cabinet ministers would be appointed.
Patrick Chinamasa, Zanu PF cheif negotiator claimed that it was clear that Tsvangirai wanted key offices to remain vacant so that the country would become ungovernable and this would advance his cause.
“MDC-T’s intention is to create a vacuum so that they can advance their agenda to illegally and unconstitutionally remove Zanu-PF from Government.
“It is to everyone’s knowledge that MDC-T was recruiting former soldiers and police officers for military training in Botswana with the intention of removing the Government. Without substantive people in crucial positions, they would create havoc and there would be no one to deal with the perpetrators of this insurgency.”