Zimbabwe opposition to get majority in Cabinet

/ Source: The Associated Press

Zimbabwe's opposition will get more Cabinet posts than President Robert Mugabe's party in the long-sought unity government, state radio reported Sunday.

It said the Cabinet under a power-sharing deal brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki will have 31 members, 16 from the opposition and 15 from Mugabe's party.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the opposition have begun discussing the appointments before the ceremonial signing on Monday of a deal reached after weeks of negotiations that followed widely discredited elections.

Under a media blackout on the talks, no details were immediately available on Cabinet appointments, but the opposition has demanded control of the police while agreeing to Mugabe retaining control of the military.

State-orchestrated violence?
Both the police and military have been blamed for state-orchestrated violence and torture of Mugabe's opponents.

ZANU-PF, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the smaller opposition grouping of Arthur Mutambara met in Harare on Saturday to work on Cabinet appointments before a meeting of Mugabe's politburo, his party's top policy body, the radio said.

The 30-member politburo "endorsed" the power-sharing agreement that was announced Thursday, the radio said.

Attorney David Coltart, an opposition lawmaker, said in a message to his supporters the first task lying ahead was for the Harare parliament to pass a constitutional amendment forming a new power sharing government enabling the administration to urgently start work.

The new government will keep Mugabe as president with greatly reduced powers along with two largely ceremonial vice presidents drawn from ZANU-PF. Tsvangirai becomes prime minister with two opposition deputies, Coltart said.

"Although he (Tsvangirai) does not have absolute power he does have substantial power," he said. "This is undoubtedly historic but we still have a long and treacherous road to travel."