MDC/ZANU PF Talks On Verge Of Collapse

The talks to brea the impasse in Zimbabwe's coalition are bogged down, with ZANU PF resorting to legalistic arguments to get out of their obligations. This is despite the SADC Troika meeting stating that the talks must be held in order to meet not just the letter, but also "the spirit" behind the agreement that governs the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe.

Harare, Zimbabwe 25 November 2009

Negotiators from ZANU PF and the two MDC formations are struggling to find common ground, it has emerged, with indications being that the talks to resolve the impasse that led to Morgan Tsvangirai "disengaging from ZANU PF" are stuck on who has responsibility for which outstanding issues.

The Inclusive Government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe had been given the deadline of 15 November to start talking and another deadline of November 30 to finish the talks. Jacob Zuma, the South African President had been scheduled to come to Zimbabwe to be updated on progress this week, but he has now postponed his visit to after December 5 because the process of talking only started this Monday, 23 November 2009.

Over the weekend, ZANU PF issued a statement saying that SADC (the Southern African Development Community) leaders who gave the deadline were not their "headmaster" who would punish them for not meeting the deadlines they set.

The talks currently taking place are stuck on several issues, the most intractable ones being the issue of "sanctions" which ZANU PF wants MDC-Tsvangirai to get lifted.

There is also now an insistence by ZANU PF that there is a "parallel government" in the Prime Minister's office and this must be dismantled. The MDC-T are refusing to take responsibility now for any of these things, with Mugabe's negotiators saying these issues are more important that "appointments."

Most significantly, though, the talks since Monday have been bogged down also on the issue of teh definitions contained within the SADC Communique of January this year, which stated that the positions and appointments of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor and the country's Attorney General would be "dealt with by the Inclusive Government once it is formed."

ZANU PF negotiators told the MDC-T negotiators on Monday and yesterday that this does not mean that the Governor and Attorney General are to be fired.

"Where in that document does it say Gono and Tomana should go? It only says we should talk about them," Patrick Chinamasa of ZANU PF is said to have told the MDC-T people yesterday.

Chinamasa says "we spoken about it and we have said they were appointed legally, so we have fulfilled that requirement."

The same argument is now being used for Governors, with ZANU PF saying that the document only says the negotiators should meet to agree on a "formula" for the distribution of Governorship posts.

Mugabe's party now says the Governors are only representatives of the President in the provinces and should not be distributed on the basis of the March 2008 elections as the MDC-T had understood previously.

A new formula will now have to be agreed on, says ZANU PF, and that would have to rely on "the genrrosity of the president and not the dictates of the election result."

The MDC-T have also now been told that their ambassadors will not be going anywhere. They will not be posted "because there is now an impasse and we are not sure about your commitment to the Inclusive Government anymore," according to Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche of ZANU PF.

This is probably only a negotiating tactic to put pressure on the MDC-T.

It is to be hoped that the negotiators from the MDC-T do not blink, as they did during the talks that led to the Global Political Agreement. The MDC-T back then panicked and ended up giving away literally all powers to Mugabe just so they could get into office. They thought if they let the chance go, they would be condemned to a life in opposition for the next five years, which would have been fatal to them.

Experience tells us not to expect too much.

There is still a lot of inexperience in the MDC-T. If they stick to their guns, then we can safely say the talks will collapse and Tsvangirai will have to make the decision whether to walk out forever or not.

He will almost certainly stay.



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