ZIM DEAL still elusive

Nelson Banya

Nelson Banya

HARARE - Zimbabwe's rival parties are still far from implementing a power-sharing deal, the opposition MDC said yesterday as some regional leaders prepared to hold a summit aimed at breaking the deadlock.

"We are still miles, miles, miles behind in terms of the implementation of the deal," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told South Africa's SAfm radio station.

Chamisa said Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC had no choice but to remain cautiously optimistic despite the hurdles.

He was speaking a day before some heads of state from the regional SADC grouping were due to meet in Swaziland to try to help Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and opposition agree on cabinet posts after four days of inconclusive talks that ended on Friday.

The power-sharing deal, mediated by former president Thabo Mbeki, is seen as Zimbabwe's best hope for rescuing an economy in which fuel and food are scarce and inflation stands at 231 millionpercent - the world's highest.

"People are suffering," Chamisa said. "There is no food. No jobs. No cash in the country. The country is almost on the edge of total collapse.

"We want to make sure we rescue the situation. That is why we remain cautiously optimistic."

State leaders who form the SADC's defence and security body are expected to hold talks on the stalemate in Swaziland's capital Mbabane today.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller MDC faction, will take part in the three-way meeting of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland.

President Kgalema Motlanthe will lead a delegation to Swaziland. Mbeki is expected to brief the meeting on efforts to form a new government in Zimbabwe, it said in a statement.

Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of talks a week ago after Mugabe allocated powerful ministries such as defence, finance and home affairs to his party. - Reuters