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Zimbabwe's MDC Looks To S. Africa's Zuma to Resolve Dispute

Both formations of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change have appealed to South African President Jacob Zuma – currently chairman of the Southern African Development Community - and the African Union to end an impasse within the country's unity government over top appointments including the governorship of the reserve bank.

But their partner in the so-called "all inclusive" government, President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, refuses to declare a deadlock in the negotiating process and maintains that consequently there is no occasion to call upon SADC and the AU for mediation.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the dominant MDC formation, and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, leader of the rival grouping, have called for the replacement of the incumbent governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, and of Attorney General Johannes Tomana. Mr. Mugabe reappointed Gono and named Tomana in late 2008.

The MDC charges that those appointments, among others, violated the power-sharing accord signed by Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai and Mutambara in September 2008. ZANU-PF says no government was in place so Mr. Mugabe was entitled to make the appointments.

The MDC is also accusing President Mugabe of backtracking on an agreement reached last week with Mr. Tsvangirai under which the combined MDC formations were to name six of 10 provincial governors – five of those going to Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation.

Mugabe spokesman George Charamba has since declared that Mr. Mugabe must consult the ZANU-PF politburo before making a firm commitment in the matter. Sources in the party say that if Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC gets five governors, ZANU-PF will demand five for itself, leaving none for Mutambara’s party. Or ZANU-PF will seek another minister of state portfolio.

Charamba has also said that the new governors cannot be sworn in until August, which sources in the MDC characterized as foot-dragging.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party hopes Mr. Zuma will move briskly to resolve the impasse.

International affairs expert David Monyae said however that he doesn’t see Mr. Zuma shifting Pretoria's position much as he will rely heavily on former president and power-sharing mediator Thabo Mbeki, though financial leverage might be applied.

Mr. Tsvangirai on Thursday visited the Mashonaland West provincial capital of Chinhoyi and told government officials, civic leaders and students that resolving the dispute over the leadership of the central bank and other institutions was the most important issue facing the relatively new unity government, as correspondent Arthur Chigoriwa reported.

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