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Zimbabwean official says coalition administration could be good for his country

Zimbabwean official says coalition administration could be good for his country

A coalition government could be good for Zimbabwe, a top aide to the country's president said Tuesday in response to reports that talks on a unity administration were under way.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said in a telephone interview that he could not confirm reports that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party and the opposition were discussing sharing power. There are less than three weeks to go before Mugabe is scheduled to face opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a presidential runoff.
Opposition spokesman Nqobizitha Mlilo said he could not comment on the reports.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has mediated stop-and-start talks between Mugabe's party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. Mbeki has insisted on a media blackout, and his spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said the reports of renewed talks, which first appeared Tuesday in South Africa's respected Business Day newspaper, were untrue.
But Simba Makoni, a former member of Mugabe's party who finished third in recent presidential elections, said preliminary talks on sharing power are under way, and that they offered a way out of the violence that has engulfed Zimbabwe since the first round of presidential voting in March.
Makoni, speaking at a news conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, said the talks could not yet be described as formal negotiations, but that he could "confirm ... that I know that there are communications between and among Zimbabwean leaders at various levels."
Makoni said he was not directly involved, but was "encouraging, facilitating and pushing that the talks do take place."
Tsvangirai has repeatedly pledged to bring moderate members of Mugabe's party into his administration. The sticking point, though, appears to have been ZANU-PF's insistence that Mugabe remain president of any unity government.
Matonga, Mugabe's government spokesman, said with Zimbabwe's Parliament now divided, a coalition "could be good for Zimbabwe" and that such arrangements have worked elsewhere in Africa and Europe.
"Whoever wins the presidential election will need the other parties to be able to govern," Matonga said. "We need each other. But it has to be a Zimbabwean initiative. As Zimbabweans, we are capable of running out own affairs. But we need friends like South Africa."
Mugabe's ZANU-PF lost control of Parliament for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980 in March 29 parliamentary voting held alongside the presidential race. Most seats went to candidates representing two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change that have since pledged to work together.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe, Makoni and a fourth candidate March 29, but official results did not give him the 50 percent plus one vote necessary to avoid a runoff.
Tsvangirai's party, foreign diplomats in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean and international human rights groups accuse Mugabe of unleashing violence against the opposition to ensure Mugabe wins the runoff. Zimbabwean government and party spokesmen repeatedly have denied the allegations.
Makoni said the violence since the first round would make it impossible for the planned June 27 runoff to be free and fair, or for it to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crises.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai "should be sitting across a table, discussing the future of Zimbabwe," Makoni said. "We ... implore them to agree to work together."
Monday, an official in Zambia, the current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, said whatever the results of the runoff, it was unlikely they would be endorsed by both sides. Mediation then would be aimed at finding "some transitional arrangements," possibly a unity government, said Zambian Information Minister George Mulongoti.
Mbeki is mediating on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.
Mugabe, in power since 1980, once was hailed as an independence hero who helped his nation develop. In recent years, though, he has been accused of clinging to power through violence, fraud and intimidation and ruining the economy with land reform policies that resulted in the sometime violent seizures of farms from whites. The twin crises are seen as destabilizing not just Zimbabwe, but neighbors like South Africa and Zambia.


Updated : 2020-12-04 19:35 GMT+08:00