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Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Parties Upbeat on Zuma Mediation - But Mistrust Lingers

Political sources said problems with power sharing in Zimbabwe could be referred to a Southern African Development Community summit if the commitments facilitated by President Robert Mugabe are not fulfilled by the end of March

All three of the parties in Zimbabwe's often-fractious national unity government have voiced satisfaction with the mediation concluded on Thursday by South African President Jacob Zuma, and optimism as to the outlook for their power-sharing arrangement.

But political analysts and influential sources in the governing parties said the gap between them remains wide and tensions could soon escalate again.

Such officials told VOA they do not rule out calling for a a full summit of the Southern African Development Community to ensure that the 2008 global political agreement will be fully implemented.

Already on Friday there were indications that some of the agreements reached with the help of Mr. Zuma were eroding. Political sources said some in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF were suggesting Roy Bennett, the treasurer of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wing of the Movement for Democratic Change, be assigned a different post than deputy agriculture minister.

The Tsvangirai MDC has demanded Bennett be sworn in but President Mugabe has refused, saying charges that Bennett conspired to overthrow his former government must first be disposed of in High Court, where Bennett is currently standing trial.

ZANU-PF opponents of the appointment say Bennett, who is white, might sabotage Zimbabwean agriculture as a commercial farmer who lost his property to land reform. But MDC sources said such ZANU-PF officials are merely afraid Bennett might expose their ownership of multiple farms, or their failure to plant crops.

Officials in the security apparatus, meanwhile. were said to be putting up resistance to the reported agreement in the talks to retire Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono or Attorney General Johannes Tomana, or both, which the Tsvangirai MDC has been demanding. Mr. Mugabe reappointed Gono and named Tomana in late 2008 without consulting his future governing partners.

Sources said the principals agreed in the Zuma-led talks that one of them must go.The MDC is said to be divided as to which of those two men should step down.

But Zimbabwe Independent journalist Dumisani Muleya said on VOA Studio 7's LiveTalk program Friday that to make Tomana's departure more palatable, Mr. Zuma has recommended he be named to the High Court, which would not be agreeable to the MDC given his role in personally prosecuting Roy Bennett.

Meanwhile, ZANU-PF is also said to be proposing to delay the swearing-in of MDC provincial governors until the terms of the incumbents end in August.

Mr Zuma asked negotiators for the three parties in the unity government to prepare a final report for him by the end of this month. Then he will report to Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, now chairman of the SADC troika on politics, defense and security.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said Friday that his party is confident all outstanding issues can be settled.

Spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa of the rival MDC formation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was also upbeat on developments.

ZANU-PF Information Committee member Chris Mutsvangwa rejected the proposition that his party has been blocking GPA implementation, as has been alleged by the Tsvangirai MDC and many observers.