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Zimbabwe Opposition Calls for International Help Over Talks


Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is calling for international help to end the stalemate over the formation of a unity government. The failure to reach a consensus on the allocation of key ministries is viewed as delaying the formation of a unity government that would address Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. But President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party says outside help is not needed to resolve the stalemate.

Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean with the International Crisis Group (ICG). From South Africa's capital, Pretoria he tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe is purposely making life difficult for the opposition.

"I think first and foremost it actually shows beyond any doubt that there is no political will on the part of Mugabe to get this inclusive government working. And if not it is actually more of the things beyond his control or issues beyond his control in terms of him having lost the election and in terms of him being implored on by fellow African governments that he has every reason to negotiate to find a way out of the crisis," Masamvu noted.

He said the ongoing stalemate depicts the ruling party's unwillingness to compromise.

"In a sense that the main political actors are even finding it difficult to find a compromise on the issue of allocation of ministerial posts as a result of the negotiated political settlement shows that Mugabe will get this agreement working," he said.

Masamvu said to resolve the ongoing stalemate over the unity government talks and the allocation of ministries, the ruling party needs to compromise.

"I still believe that Mugabe is just playing hardball and trying to maximize his gains ands trying to make sure that the MDC has as much as little, which it gets out of its arrangement. But by and large what is important is to actually get the issue that the MDC to be in this deal in the first place amongst all doubts by all actors ha shown that it has the political goodwill to be engaged in this agreement. And ZANU-PF on its part was actually trying to push this arrangement as in arrangement for convenience," Masamvu pointed out.

He said there was need for other African leaders to be involved in the ongoing Zimbabwe talks.

"So, what you actually need is for African actors as represented by SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the African Union, as well as the international community to help make this arrangement work," he said.

Masamvu said President Mugabe's once overwhelming absolute power has been recently drained.

"The baseline is the very fact that the agreement, which Mugabe and Tsvangirai appended their signatures to, reduces to invincibility of Mugabe. And I believe there is a new breed of African leaders with Tanzania's President Kikwete who is the Africa Union chairman and a SADC member, President Seretse Ian Khama, of Botswana that there is need to make Mugabe to know and to realize that his work is cut out that he (Mugabe) cannot hold the nation to ransom for his personal needs to be addressed," Masamvu pointed out.

He said President Mugabe has lost some credibility after the general election.

"It is quite clear from March 29 that Mugabe lost the mandate of the people, and this has been the trend since 2000. But I think on March 29 2008, it actually became clear to the rest of the world, including the African community that Mugabe does not enjoy the mandate of Zimbabweans. And as such it was in everybody's interest for Zimbabwe to move forward that the party, which fought the liberation struggle and brought independence, should actually be engaged with the party, which is trying to move the process forward," he said.

Meanwhile, Britain's foreign secretary says European Union sanctions against Zimbabwe will be maintained until a new power-sharing government is in place. He said European Union sanctions will not be lifted until President Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agree on a new administration. The EU imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on Mugabe and 171 people and four companies tied to his old regime.