'ZIMbabwe TALKS sLow'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's political rivals have agreed on some outstanding issues of a power-sharing deal, but the pace of negotiations is slow, a South African official mediating in the talks said yesterday.

President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, formed a unity government last year after disputed elections, but the coalition has been beset by disputes over power-sharing.

Lindiwe Zulu, a foreign relations advisor to President Jacob Zuma, said while South Africa was not happy with the pace of talks, there was progress on some issues.

"I don't think that we should be talking of escalating conflict. We are not saying that we are happy with the speed at which they are working but we think there are a number of things they've agreed upon," Zulu told Talk Radio 702.

Zimbabwean media reports say South Africa wants all outstanding issues resolved before it hosts the soccer World Cup in June.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in October "disengaged" from cabinet meetings with Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, accusing it of being an "unreliable partner", but rejoined after mediation by the Southern African Development Community.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are haggling over the appointment of governors and the swearing-in of Tsvangirai's ally Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

Mugabe has also refused to sack allies he appointed as central bank governor and attorney-general without consulting Tsvangirai.

Mugabe wants the MDC to call off Western sanctions against his party and ask its backers in the West to shut down radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from the US and Britain. - Reuters