x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Mugabe set to form government

State run media says the Zimbabwean president is expected to form a new government by the end of February despite stalled talks with the main opposition party.

HARARE // The Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is expected to form a new government by the end of February despite stalled talks with the main opposition party, the state-run Herald newspaper said today. The veteran leader, who started a month-long holiday this week, began preparations for a new administration last week when he fired nine ministers and three deputies who lost seats in last year's parliamentary election.

The move was seen as the clearest sign yet he had lost patience with talks on forming a power-sharing government with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The Herald said a senior ruling ZANU-PF party official, Nicholas Goche, met Sydney Mufamadi, the representative for Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's former president and a mediator in the talks, on Saturday to discuss ways of ending the impasse.

"The president has had enough of games from the opposition and he made this quite clear in his meeting with MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara," a source told the newspaper. Mr Mutambara heads a splinter faction of the MDC. "They agreed that a government should be put in place sooner rather than later," the paper said. It would most likely be in place by the end of next month, the source said. Mr Mugabe, the leader of the main MDC party Morgan Tsvangirai, and Mr Mutambara signed a power-sharing pact on Sept 15 but it has been held up by a dispute over cabinet posts.

Mr Mutambara has in the past said he would not join a government without Mr Tsvangirai. The Herald said Mr Goche and Mr Mufamadi also discussed a letter, apparently written by Mr Tsvangirai to Mr Mugabe, which said the opposition leader was not prepared to take up the post of prime minister, as agreed in the September deal. Mr Tsvangirai won a presidential election in March last year but by too few votes for an outright victory. He pulled out of the subsequent vote, citing violence against MDC supporters.

*Reuters