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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up