Thursday, August 14, 2008

(HERALD) We differed on just one issue: Mutambara

We differed on just one issue: Mutambara
Herald Reporter-New Ziana-AFP.

Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations have agreed on every aspect of an all-inclusive government except one issue that Morgan Tsvangirai wants to consult over, President Thabo Mbeki and Arthur Mutambara said yesterday. President Mbeki is the facilitator of the inter-party talks, while Mutambara heads the other MDC formation. The two told separate news conferences in Harare that Tsvangirai had requested for the talks to be adjourned so that he could consult on the "sticking point".

"All the three parties are in agreement in everything except on one sticking point, which he (Tsvangirai) has requested to reflect and consult on before he comes back to the negotiation table.

"Morgan Tsvangirai has requested time to reflect and consult," Mutambara told repor-ters.

"Three times he agreed to this one aspect and three times he changed his mind," Mutambara said.

He said although he was not at liberty to disclose what had actually stalled the signing of the agreement, his party had no problems with the aspect that Tsvangirai wants to consult over.

The party’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the sticking point stalling the settlement was not critical. "The point is not critical and the dialogue process can proceed without that," said Ncube.

After three days spent mediating power-sharing negotiations to end Zimbabwe’s political challenges, President Mbeki said he remained confident that all three parties in the talks would find a resolution.

"We have dealt with all the elements on which President Mugabe and Mutambara agree, but there is disagreement on one element over which Morgan Tsvangirai had asked for time to reflect," said Mbeki.

"We have adjourned to give Morgan Tsvangirai more time to consider these matters.

"I’m quite confident they will resolve all their outstanding matters which would result in this inclusive government, and in the second instance then acting together," President Mbeki told reporters.

He left Harare for Luanda yesterday morning to brief Angolan leader and chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on the talks.

President Mbeki said he would discuss with President dos Santos the time frame that Tsvangirai should be given to consider the power-sharing proposals, after which he would reconvene the negotiations.

President Mbeki said major issues that the three principals had been discussing over the past four days were to do with the allocation of Cabinet portfolios in the all-inclusive government.

"A lot of ground had been covered," he said.

Mutambara said the dialogue must not be allowed to collapse until a lasting solution was reached to end the challenges facing the country.

"Negotiations would continue while consultations are being made. There is a single issue to which Tsvangirai has reservations and we have to respect that, so the talks have been adjourned."

He said parties to the dialogue should be driven by national interest and find a solution to the challenges besetting Zimbabweans.

"We are determined to put national interests first than self-interests and partisanship to craft an obtaining settlement to heal our country while promoting the recovery and transformation of our economy.

"This dialogue must not be allowed to crumble. All parties must work together and put national interests above petty and personal interests."

Mutambara, however, reiterated that the West should not work against the dialogue and remove the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

"We are negotiating as Zimbabweans and we want the dialogue to succeed so the international community should not act to destroy the spirit of discussion."

He said the MDC was against the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe when an internal process is underway to address the country’s challenges.

"We condemn violence in whatever form, including the sanctions imposed even as we hold the talks. The sanction should be condemned without reservation.

"It is not productive to destroy the spirit of rapprochement, the Zimbabweans’ appetite to discuss their issues. The West should show confidence and respect by allowing the country’s leaders to hold talks without meaningless intervention."

He said the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the three parties on July 21 was a "sort of ceasefire" while negotiations continue and the international community should also observe the principle of that agreement.

President Mbeki is expected to brief Sadc leaders on the state of the Zimbabwe talks at the grouping’s summit in South Africa at the weekend.

He commended the Zimbabwean leadership for their commitment to the talks, saying they were all eager to conclude the negotiations.

On what was at stake for him in the negotiations, President Mbeki said his country and Zimbabwe were neighbours that were inseparable as they shared a common history of colonialism.

"Personally, I have known the Zimbabwean leadership for a long time," he said, noting that Zimbabwe played an important role in the liberation of South Africa.

President Mbeki said as a neighbour, South Africa was aware of the difficulties that the people of Zimbabwe were experiencing and was obliged to assist.

"Even if it means spending six months in Zimbabwe, then we will do it as long as it will bring an end to the challenges that the country is experiencing," he said.

President Mbeki implored outsiders to give Zimbabweans an opportunity to address challenges facing them, saying he was convinced that they would do so if left alone.

"Let us give the Zimbabwean leaders breathing space to resolve their differences," he said.

He said he was impressed that all the Zimbabwean leaders appreciated that none of them individually had a solution to the challenges facing the country. — Herald Reporter-New Ziana-AFP.

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