(AFP) – Sep 16, 2008
HARARE (AFP) — Zimbabwe's new political partners were set to start talks to allocate cabinet posts on Tuesday following the signing of a historic power-sharing deal between former arch rivals.
President Robert Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and opposition faction chief Arthur Mutambara signed the deal on Monday in a bid to end the country's long-standing political crisis and economic meltdown.
"The principals are going to meet to decide which ministries are going to be run by the ZANU-PF, which ministries are going to be run by the MDC-T and which by the MDC-M," ruling party chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said on Monday, referring to two MDC's headed by Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
"The other immediate matter is the issue of the amendment of the constitution."
Zimbabwe's constitution has to be amended for the new government which will be led by Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai in a new post as prime minister. Both offices will have two deputies, with Mutambara taking one of the deputy prime minister posts.
On Tuesday, a banner on the front page of the state mouthpiece The Herald announced the "Dawn of a new era", with an editorial calling for leaders to "quickly transform the talks into action".
A special edition of the private weekly Zimbabwe Independent also said it was time "to get to work" to ease tensions among the former rivals.
"The event was feted as a success story but there remains evidence of tension and uneasiness among the leaders, which has to wear off quickly for them to achieve positive results quickly for Team Zimbabwe," the newspaper's editorial said.
The parties on Monday committed themselves to free political activity, a national healing process and the restoration of economic stability in the former regional breadbasket.
"Let us be allies," said 84-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1980.
The new political partners also agreed to call on former colonial power Britain -- a frequent target of Mugabe's sometimes fiery rhetoric -- to pay compensation for land acquired in Zimbabwe's land reform programmes.
While his rhetoric had cooled as power-sharing talks pushed ahead, Mugabe lashed out at Britain and the United States in his lengthy speech on Monday.
"Why is the hand of Britain and America here, Zimbabwe is a sovereign country, only the people of Zimbabwe has the fundamental right to govern it. They alone will set up government, they alone will change it."
Tsvangirai used his first platform as head of government to call on Zimbabwe's rival parties to work together to "unite" the country. He also called for the economically-shattered southern African country's doors to be reopened to international aid.
"The international aid organisations came to help our country and found our doors locked," Tsvangirai said. "We need to unlock our doors to aid -- we need medicine, food, and doctors back in our country.
"We need electricity, water, petrol for our vehicles, we need to access our cash from banks."
Over the past decade, Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed with the world's highest inflation rate, chronic shortages of foreign currency and food, skyrocketing unemployment and widespread hunger.
In response to Monday's deal, the European Union left sanctions in place saying it wants to see democratic improvements, while the United States said it was waiting to see the details of the deal.
The International Monetary Fund said it was ready to hold talks with Zimbabwe's new goverment.
The power-sharing deal was reached after protracted talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki with Zimbabwe's political crisis having intensified after Mugabe's re-election as president in a widely condemned one-man, second round poll in June.
Tsvangirai boycotted the vote despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing violence against his supporters.
Mugabe's party lost its majority in parliament in the March elections for the first time since independence.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »