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S. Africa's Mbeki In Wings As Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Stalls

Despite a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, Zimbabwe on Friday still lacked the cabinet required to put a power-sharing national unity government in place.

Delays in launching what is called an "all-inclusive" government may have been extended by the resignation of former South African president Thabo Mbeki under pressure from his own ruling African National Congress. After days of uncertainty, Mbeki through a spokesman confirmed Friday he will continue to mediate Zimbabwe's fragile power-sharing process.

Negotiators for ZANU-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change were expected to meet on Saturday in an effort to break a week-long deadlock on the allocation of key cabinet posts.

However, Secretary General Tendai Biti of the MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister-designate, said he knew of no scheduled negotiating session.

Top officials in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party say the only key ministry that they are willing to consider handing over to the MDC is Finance. They say Foreign Affairs is off limits and Home Affairs has been allocated to a member of the former ZAPU party which ZANU-PF absorbed in the late 1980s after post-liberation bloodletting.

Nor is Local Government up for discussion, ZANU-PF sources say.

MDC officials for their part say only Mbeki, who mediated the power-sharing deal out of an equally tenacious impasse, is in a position to break the deadlock over cabinet appointments. But caretaker Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa insists Mbeki’s help is not needed.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZANU-PF is negotiating in bad faith and that no portfolio should be considered off the table in negotiations.

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