mbeki in harare to revive stalled deal

HARARE - Former president Thabo Mbeki is expected in Zimbabwe today to try to resurrect the floundering power-sharing talks.

HARARE - Former president Thabo Mbeki is expected in Zimbabwe today to try to resurrect the floundering power-sharing talks.

Talks on implementing a stalled September 15 agreement between President Rovert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were branded dead in the water yesterday by opposition leaders. The talks were soured by Mugabe's decision at the weekend to award key posts to his party.

But Mbeki will seek to hold discussions today with each of the three parties, including a breakaway MDC faction, that signed the power-sharing accord.

"Mbeki is travelling to Zimbabwe tomorrow. The allocation of the ministries and all other issues will be discussed in Harare when he meets that country's political leaders," his spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said yesterday.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Tsvangirai-led MDC, made a passionate appeal to Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community to help resolve the crisis.

"Mbeki, please help Zimbabwe. We need your help. We also need the help and support of the SADC," Chamisa told SAFM radio.

Mugabe announced on Saturday that he was awarding the defence, home affairs and justice ministries to the ruling Zanu-PF. This means he will retain control of the army, police and other state security apparatus.

"It kills the talks completely," Chamisa said. "This flies in the face of the attempt by the SADC to help us out of this crisis. Clearly, it is an act in bad faith," he said, adding that the move was "arrogant, unilateral and unacceptable".

Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the other MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, said Mugabe's announcement stemmed from "hallucination on the part of Zanu-PF".

Mushoriwa said: "As far as we know there was no agreement on the allocation of cabinet posts and we are waiting for mediator Mbeki to come and resolve the impasse."

A government notice carried by the state-run Herald newspaper said on Saturday that the veteran leader had given his Zanu-PF party 14 ministries, including control of defence, home and foreign affairs, justice, local government and the all-important state media.

According to the report, Tsvangirai's MDC gets 13 portfolios, covering constitutional and parliamentary affairs, economic planning and investment promotion, labour and social welfare, and sport, the arts and culture.

Mutambara's MDC would get three ministries. - Sapa-AFP