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Exodus Of South African Ministers Adds To Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Concerns

The resignation on Tuesday of 11 South African ministers following that of President Thabo Mbeki increased concern the shuffle in Pretoria could have a negative impact on the delicate power-sharing transition already running into difficulty in Zimbabwe.

VOA's Delia Robertson reported from Johannesburg that Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said he would be willing to work with the incoming president.

The resigning ministers included Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, a key member of the outgoing president’s Zimbabwe mediation team.

Top ZANU-PF and MDC officials said the Pretoria crisis could lead to the collapse of the Zimbabwe power-sharing process if it is not properly managed. However, they were all quick to add that Zimbabwe is in charge of its own destiny.

Nonetheless, political analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group in Pretoria told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe Mufamadi’s resignation increases the risk that the Zimbabwe peace process could founder.

Meanwhile, inter-party discussions on forming a unity cabinet seemed unlikely to resume until Oct. 5, when president Robert Mugabe will be back in the country. Mr. Mugabe has traveled to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly and was expected to address the general assembly on Thursday afternoon.

Developments in Harare, meanwhile, indicated the gap between the parties to the Sept. 15 power-sharing agreement is widening. An opinion piece in the state-controlled Herald newspaper signed by Nathaniel Manheru, believed to be a pen-name for Mugabe spokesman George Charamba, has caused consternation among MDC officials.

The columnist warned against conducting an audit of land in the hands of ministers and top officials of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, branding the MDC leadership “traitors.” the writer asserted that it is Mugabe’s sole prerogative to name ministers.

The New York Times quoted MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai as saying that “if that is the spirit in which we go into the marriage, it has finished before it has started.”

Elsewhere, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the new government cannot be formed until an amendment to the constitution has been enacted, so the unity government might not be put in place until November.

But Legal Secretary David Coltart of the MDC formation headed by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Blessing Zulu that Chinamasa was misinterpreting the law.

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