September 17, 2008

Zimbabwe: ZANU-PF Factions Reportedly “Resist” Power Sharing Deal

Text of report by influential, privately-owned South African daily Business Day website on 17 September

[Report by Dumisani Muleya: "ZANU (PF) Top Brass Resist Unity Deal"]

A day after signing a power-sharing agreement with the opposition, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was yesterday fighting political fires in his own ZANU (PF) ruling party as hardliners resisted the deal.

The flare-up within the faction-ridden ZANU (PF) threatens the deal before the first steps towards implementation are taken. Western states, whose support is needed for economic recovery, have adopted a wait-and-see approach.

Disputes within ZANU (PF) yesterday forced the cancellation of a crucial meeting between Mugabe and main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

The three men were expected to meet to discuss the formation of a new 31-member cabinet to allow the new all-inclusive government to start working. But Mugabe spent the day in what insiders described as an explosive politburo meeting.

Officials close to Tsvangirai said the meeting was postponed to today but no "convincing explanation" was given by Mugabe's side.

"We were told the meeting has been postponed to tomorrow (Wednesday) because Mugabe is busy," a senior official in Tsvangirai's party said.

" We are surprised, because everybody is busy. We also have to explain this agreement to our supporters, but we can't stop a government agenda due to a party political meeting. This is inappropriate and Mugabe needs to be told this right from the start".

Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the Mutambara faction, said the meeting was delayed due to "unforeseen circumstances".

Sources said Mugabe had difficulty convincing his politburo to accept the merits of the accord.

At least three-quarters of the 49-member politburo will lose their posts in the proposed government of national unity.

Already half of former ministers are going to be discarded when Mugabe announces the new cabinet, expected this week. While the outgoing cabinet had 64 ZANU (PF) ministers, including deputy ministers and provincial governors who are "resident ministers", the new cabinet will have 31 ministers.

Fifteen would be from ZANU (PF), 13 from the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai and three from Mutambara's group. In the new government there would 15 deputy ministers, eight from ZANU (PF), six from Tsvangirai's party and one from Mutambara's camp.

Although Mugabe has already given the 10 governors' posts to ZANU (PF) loyalists, he is supposed to share the posts equally with the two MDC factions, which means five for himself and the other five for Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

Sources said ZANU (PF) senior officials are angry at the "sell- out agreement". The deal has been resisted even by Mugabe's two vice- presidents, Joseph Msika and Joyce Mujuru. The two looked isolated and disappointed at the signing ceremony on Monday. To rub salt in the wound, their presence was not even acknowledged as it usually is.

Apart from Msika and Mujuru, members of the ZANU (PF) faction led by Mujuru's husband, the retired Gen Solomon Mujuru, are furious. Most the faction's top members are likely to be left out of the cabinet, especially after they fell out with Mugabe during the recent elections. Gen Mujuru's group wanted Mugabe to lose the election and go.

The faction has been trying to oust Mugabe for some time. Mugabe has confirmed this in public and reacted by purging or sidelining them .

Mujuru's group - whose two key members, Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa, recently left ZANU (PF) amid acrimony - was said to have bitterly complained about the deal which would leave them out of the government.

Mugabe is backed by the faction led by his unwavering loyalist , Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Mnangagwa group was behind his disputed re- election and is being rewarded for their support.

Mugabe's politburo had met on Saturday to discuss the deal. Although it approved the agreement, there was simmering discontent which flared up at yesterday's meeting.

Sources said the rescheduling of the meeting to today was uncertain because Mugabe's party would hold a central committee meeting for him to explain the agreement.

Originally published by Business Day website, Johannesburg, in English 17 Sep 08.

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