Two vice-presidents have been sworn in by the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe (photo, from terrepolitique.com), who also unilaterally appointed members of his ruling Zanu-PF party to key cabinet posts.
The power-sharing talks will probably be further jeopardised by the president’s move. The talks were due to resume as Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, flew in to the country on Monday, in order to mediate.
The sworn in of Joyce Mujuru and Joseph Msika took place at State House in the capital Harare.
“The two vice-presidents were sworn in this morning because their positions are not in dispute”, a senior government spokesman told Reuters news agency.
The swearing in of the two vice-presidents is “meaningless”, said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In September the party agreed a power-sharing deal with Mr Mugabe.
“Whatever appointments or acts that do not address the woes of the country are meaningless”, he said. “Any appointments by Mr Mugabe that do not take the country out of the current economic quagmire are meaningless.”
On Sunday, the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, threatened to pull out of the power-sharing agreement, that has been stalled because the two sides have been unable to agree on the allocation of ministry posts.
Mr Mugabe has been accused by Mr Tsvangirai of trying to secure all important ministries for Zanu-PF. The MDC leader said that he was willing to continue negotiating only if there was a chance of a breakthrough.
Mr Tsvangirai warning came after the news on Saturday that president Mugabe had allocated significant ministries, like the ministry of defence and home affairs, to members of his own party.
The Herald newspaper, a government gazette, published a list of the 14 ministries that Mr Mugabe gave to his own party. The list includes the portfolios of defence, home and foreign affairs and justice as well as local government and media.
If the defence ministry post goes to Zanu-PF, the home affairs post, that covers policing, must go to the MDC, has reportedly argued Mr Tsvangirai (photo, from abc.net).
The MDC leader said that if Mr Mugabe followed through with his stated allocation of ministries, he was prepared to renegotiate.
“That is not power sharing, it is power grabbing”, he told a rally.
“The people have suffered. But if it means suffering the more in order for them to get what is at stake, then so be it.”
Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman confirmed that the former South African president is travelling back to Harare in an attempt to break the impasse.
The agreement brokered by Mr Mbeki says that while Mr Mugabe remains president, Mr Tsvangirai takes the newly created post of prime minister.
Constitutional and parliamentary affairs, economic planning and investment promotion, labour and social welfare, sport, arts and culture, and science and technology development, are some of the 13 ministries that have been allocated to Mr Tsvangirai’s MDC.