Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and founding president Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will open face-to-face negotiations Thursday in what could be the closing phase of power-sharing talks, political sources said Tuesday.
Sources in Harare and Pretoria said South African President Thabo Mbeki will fly to Harare to facilitate the dialogue between the two in his capacity as Zimbabwe crisis mediator on behalf of the Southern African Development Community since June 2007.
Sources privy to the negotiations still under way in Pretoria said the two leaders must settle two key issues. The first is whether President Mugabe or Tsvangirai as prime minister is to hold executive powers in the proposed government of national unity.
Also on the table is the question as to who will appoint the governors of the country's 10 provinces, which include metropolitan Harare and Bulawayo. The two MDC formations want their members to be named governors in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and metropolitan Bulawayo, by virtue of their political dominance in the region.
But ZANU-PF negotiators have objected that this would fracture the ruling party given that officials drawn from the independence-era ZAPU party of Joshua Nkomo would thereby lose the gubernatorial positions allocated to them in a 1987 unity accord.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Tuesday that both sides are expanding their negotiating teams after extending the talks beyond a nominal Monday deadline. ZANU-PF has sent party chairman John Nkomo, Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge and Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramai - all three members of the ZANU-PF politiburo.
The MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai dispatched Harare lawyers Innocent Chagonda and Jameson Timba along with International Affairs Secretary Eliphas Mukonoweshuro.
The other MDC faction, headed by Arthur Mutambara, has bolstered its team by adding national executive members Moses Mzila-Ndlovu and Miriam Mushayi.
Political analyst and human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a power sharing deal is possible but will take compromise.