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Word On Agreements Due From Principals In Zimbabwe Unity Government


Political sources in Harare say Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have made breakthroughs on some of the issues causing discord within the country's government of national unity.

Sources in Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change - the dominant one led by Mr. Tsvangirai, the other by Mutambara - told VOA that a statement on agreements reached and outstanding issues will be issued Thursday.

Sources privy to the talks said Mutambara has been assigned to issue the statement. The principals are said to have met on Tuesday to reach the latest agreements.

The sources said accord was reached regarding the appointments of provincial governors, ambassadors and ministerial permanent secretaries. Mr Mugabe has reportedly agreed to allow Roy Bennett of Tsvangirai's MDC to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister.

However, Information Ministry Permanent Secretary George Charamba, often a spokesman for Mr. Mugabe, was said to have handed the media late Wednesday a list of permanent secretaries said to have been re-appointed by President Mugabe.

Political sources said Mr. Mugabe has refused to budge on the most important issues on the table including the leadership of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, now governed by Mugabe crony Gideon Gono, and the Office of the Attorney General, held by Johannes Tomana.

Political sources said a technical team has been formed to deal with outstanding issues.

News of these developments emerged after Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC said Sunday it would ask the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, guarantors of the unity government formed in February, to step in to arbitrate on lingering divisive issues.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to Mr. Tsvangirai's office, told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that a major announcement will be made on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Harare government was pulling out all stops to attract budget support which it says is indispensable for its survival.

Mr. Tsvangirai has declared that the government is broke and Finance Minister Tendai Biti has warned that the government is on the verge of collapse.

So far the Harare government has raised just US$35 million to fund its operations, though it needs US$2 billion to cover the state payroll and 2009 general operations.

It has been reaching out to possible donors, but the World Bank and other donors although funding a number of initiatives are bypassing the government, partly due to Harare's failure to replace Gideon Gono at the Reserve Bank and overhaul the institution.

Ambassador Sten Rylander of Sweden, which will hold the European Union presidency as of July, said Harare is in talks with Stockholm about normalizing relations with the EU.

Though donors are not providing major funding, the multilateral financial institutions have been stepping up their involvement, with an IMF technical team in town since Monday.

Finance Minister Biti said an African Development Bank team is doing similar work.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe says sweeping reforms must be put in place before funds will come to Harare.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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