Mugabe must back down, says rival

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, has refused to be pushed into a deal that would leave Robert Mugabe in effective control of the country. The man regarded by many as the president-elect said Mr Mugabe would have to cede power before any agreement on a government of national unity would be possible.

Claims from the Mugabe camp that it had divided the opposition appeared to be unfounded.

Mr Tsvangirai said his rival must back down or negotiations would collapse, a source close to the talks told The Independent. Mr Tsvangirai walked out of talks late on Tuesday night after South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediator, tried to push him into an agreement that would have made him prime minister in name alone, leaving executive power in the hands of President Mugabe.

Mr Tsvangirai, who won more votes than his rivals in a March election, is demanding executive powers be transferred to a prime ministerial position before he will sign up to any deal. He has come under intense pressure from three sides, as Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller opposition faction, has joined Mr Mbeki and Mr Mugabe in pushing for the 84-year-old President to hold on to as much power as possible. The Mugabe regime is determined to retain control of the security services while leaving Mr Tsvangirai to sort out the devastated economy.

There is increasing anger in the impoverished nation over the role of Mr Mutambara, who has positioned himself closer to the Mugabe camp in a bid to get a government role despite his lack of popular support. He failed to win a seat at the election and his faction has only 10 MPs. While he stopped short of saying he had signed up to the Mugabe plan, yesterday he called on Mr Tsvangirai to make concessions for the good of the country.

A senior official in Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said there was a major disagreement on the section of the draft agreement – drawn up with the South Africans – dealing with the powers of the prime minister to appoint, chair and run cabinet issues as executive head of government. The wording of that section would have reduced the post of premier to that of ceremonial status, preserving Mr Mugabe's enormous power.

The source said Mr Tsvangirai raised serious objections but his rival would not concede and denied that the talks had collapsed, saying the opposition leader would return to the negotiations when the Mugabe camp changed its position.

"They have only collapsed in the sense that there won't be a deal before Mbeki leaves as originally planned," said the source.

"They have only collapsed in the sense that the deadline for a deal has not been met. But they have not collapsed forever because there is still room for more dialogue and a consensus can still be reached if Mugabe reconsiders his stance. The ball is in his court. There is no way we can budge on this fundamental issue [configuration of powers]."

Attempts by Mr Mbeki yesterday to spin the MDC leader's departure as a period of consultation with his party was denied. The MDC maintains that Mr Mugabe can remain as head of state only if he concedes actual power.

Any deal is supposed to be endorsed by all three parties but this does not preclude Mr Mugabe and Mr Mutambara from doing their a separate deal outside the current mediation. Mr Mutambara is understood to be pushing for a position of deputy prime minister in a new government, but if he abandons the main opposition leader to land the job he is likely to be reviled by much of the country.

Any such agreement would also hand a slim parliamentary majority to Mr Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party but it would do nothing to deliver the massive external aid needed to refloat the economy. Mr Tsvangirai's main strength is his clear backing from the international donor community.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power