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Sunday, 14 September 2008

After the talks - more talks

Agreement reached - but now the real bargaining begins

While you might expect both Mugabe and Tsvangirai to rest on their laurels this weekend, after their historic agreement at the end of last week, the reverse is true. Sources tell me that the two leaders, plus MDC faction boss Arthur Mutambara, met face to face on Saturday, to thrash out exactly who, in our new power-sharing government, gets what.

Dividing up the ministries - 15 to Zanu-PF, 13 to the main MDC and three to the faction - may sound simple enough. But the trio now have to decide which party gets which ministry, and which minister they wish to appoint.

The overall aim of this weekend's session has been, I am told, to make sure that when it comes to the formal signing ceremony today, which will be the focus of the world's media, the principals speak with one voice. And that's important.

What all three leaders know is, if Zimbabwe's economy and infrastructure is to be pulled back from the brink, it will only happen with outside investment, and that will depend on whether the new government is seen by the rest of the world to be united, democratic and trustworthy.

Saturday's talks were unusual in that, I am told, when they met each other, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara excluded their advisers and did the talking eyeball to eyeball.

Details of the agreement will only be revealed at the signing ceremony today, Monday. But much is already known. This is my summary of what we can expect.

Robert Mugabe will remain President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and will appoint two deputies (currently Joyce Mujuru and Joseph Msika). Morgan Tsvangirai will become Prime Minister, and will also appoint two deputies, one from his own MDC and one from Mutambara's faction.

Mugabe will chair a cabinet of 31 ministers, with Tsvangirai appointed his deputy. Tsvangirai will chair a Council of Ministers, which will formulate and implement policies, and run the day-to-day business of government.

Tsvangirai will appoint two non-constituency senators, and Mutambara two. Mugabe has already appointed five. These non-constituency senators have voting powers. There will be three non-constituency members of parliament, one from each party, but they will not have voting powers.

There will be no more elections for one year. If a party loses an MP it will automatically fill the vacancy without a public vote.

The major sticking point throughout the protracted negotiations has been control of the security forces. Most people understand that Mugabe will retain control of the army and the CIO (the dreaded secret police), whileTsvangirai will control the police and the prison service. But Tsvangirai will also have a seat on the Joint Operations Command.

Expect more details, more complications, more optimistic arrangements, when the 52 page agreement is released today.


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I found it very hard to trust Zanu-pf. I hope the Mdc will continue to tolarate Mugabe. What Mugabe said at the signing ceremony was not necessary and it shows that he is willing to sacrifice everyone in order to remain in power.
I will always pray for Zimbabwe

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