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Mbeki Arrives in Zimbabwe in Effort to Save Power-Sharing Deal


Former South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in Zimbabwe Monday, in an attempt to save a power-sharing deal between the country's main parties. Peta Thornycroft reports from Zimbabwe's capital that Mr. Mbeki is expected to persuade President Robert Mugabe to give up control of the home affairs ministry, which controls the police.

Negotiations are expected to take place at the state house.

Mr. Mbeki returns to Harare exactly four weeks after he presided over an agreement for an inclusive government signed by President Robert Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and minority party leader Arthur Mutambara.

According to the agreement, Mr. Tsvangiari was named prime minister designate in the still to be appointed cabinet. But it left Mr. Mugabe in control of still to be appointed Cabinet ministries in a transitional government that must draw up a new constitution before new elections.

In the past two weeks, Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe have been haggling over four ministries, Home Affairs, Local Government, Foreign Affairs and Finance. The other 27 ministries were largely agreed to by Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The portfolio split gave Mr. Tsvangirai the main service delivery and economic ministries such as Health, Education, Industry and Commerce.

He would have control over the broken water and power sectors, which adversely affect every aspect of life in Zimbabwe.

The social and economic ministries, observers say, would allow Mr. Tsvangirai to make a significant difference to people's lives before the next election.

One commentator in a sensitive political position said Mr. Mugabe wanted control of the army, secret service and police as part of Zanu-PF's long tradition of high profile authoritarianism.

One commentator said control of the police was only important if it was to be used for "insidious" purposes and that it would be more difficult to misuse the police in an inclusive government which is expected to pass many reformist laws.

Insiders say they believe that Mr. Mbeki is fully informed of all issues around the present deadlock.

Mr. Mugabe published a government notice late Friday distributing the 31 ministries between Zanu-PF and the MDC, although he did not need to do that constitutionally or in terms of last month's agreement. He gave the disputed Home Affairs Ministry to Zanu-PF.

The MDC has described this as disgraceful, outrageous and unilateral, and an extraordinary provocation.

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