Publication in Zimbabwe's official gazette of a constitutional amendment needed to launch the proposed unity government that has been in the works since Sept. 15 looms as the next hurdle in what has become a tortuous process, political sources said Monday.
Though a draft of the amendment has been approved by negotiators for the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Mugabe and both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, the dominant MDC wing of prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai says all power-sharing issues must be resolved before the measure is gazetted.
Such issues include the composition of the cabinet of the proposed unity government, and the distribution of ambassadorial posts and provincial governorships. One sticking point has been who will control the Home Affairs Ministry, from which the police depend.
Constitutional Amendment No. 19, as it is called, would establish the offices of prime minister and deputy prime minister, the latter to be held by rival MDC chief Arthur Mutambara.
A ZANU-PF official speaking on condition he not be named told VOA that the party's legal and parliamentary affairs department intended gazette the measure next week.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said the various parties to the power-sharing process are consulting on the amendment. He said his party's national council is to meet late this week before power-sharing negotiators reconvene next week.
Chamisa told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that negotiators agreed to meet next week to address any issues which arise during ratification of the draft by the principals and party leasders, so any gazetting of the constitutional amendment before his party's points are considered would breach the spirit of power-sharing.
National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the MDC's insistence on having its demands met before the amendment is gazetted could deal a major blow to efforts to put a national unity government into place as soon as possible.