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Zimbabwe Rivals Agree To Further Mediation By S. Africa's Mbeki

Having again failed on Friday to break a deadlock on the allocation of key cabinet posts in a national unity government, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and the heads of the two wings of the Movement for Democratic Change agreed to ask former South African President Thabo Mbeki to resume mediation in the power-sharing process, political sources said.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told VOA that Mr. Mugabe, MDC founder and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC formation leader and deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara met for an hour at Zimbabwe House, Mugabe's official residence and reached agreement to call Mbeki back in as mediator.

Mbeki mediated the power-sharing pact signed by the three principals Sept. 15.

Chinamasa, chief negotiator in the April-September power-sharing discussions for President Mugabe's ZANU-PF, had stated earlier that mediation was not needed.

But Nelson Chamisa, spokesman of Tsvangirai's MDC formation, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZANU-PF and the MDC were "three miles apart" and that Mbeki's involvement was indispensable to break the impasse.

Spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa of the MDC Mutamabara formation said Mbeki was expected to arrive in Harare to begin his mediation effort some time next week.

Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United Nations Boniface Chidyausiku said in an interview that progress has been hampered by Western nations bent on reversing the gains of independence, not by ZANU-PF intransigence, as some have suggested.

Lawyer and political analyst Teressa Mugadza said difficulties forming a cabinet signal many more challenges ahead for what Zimbabweans call an "all-inclusive" government.

News reports late Friday said Chinamasa had provided state media with a list of ministries allocated to the three parties in the power-sharing arrangement, suggesting that ZANU-PF would retain nearly all of the most important ministries including Defense, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Finance. The Tsvangirai MDC formation was to control the Economic Planning, Health, Labor and Sport ministries, among others.

But a footnote to the list indicated that "there is still a debate" on Finance.

Many observers say it is essential for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe that the MDC, long in opposition, control Finance or otherwise international donors will be highly reluctant to provide the funding needed to stabilize the macro-economy and rebuild infrastructure.

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