Page last updated at 18:10 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 19:10 UK

Crunch time for Mbeki's legacy

From left to right: Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Thabo Mbeki at the signing of the power-sharing accord in Harare on 15/09/08

By Jonah Fisher
BBC News, Johannesburg

It has been a month to forget for Thabo Mbeki: First he was forced to resign as South African president, then the power-sharing deal he negotiated for Zimbabwe stalled on the starting line.

Now four weeks after the signing ceremony, Mr Mbeki is back in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

He is trying to prove that the 30-page document he helped draft can be the template for a working government - and also a lasting legacy for his nine years in office.

The question is what strength does Thabo Mbeki now have to whip Mugabe into line?
Immanuel Hlabangana
Political analyst
On Saturday, after weeks of deadlock, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe announced the allocation of cabinet portfolios between his own Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions.

Though hardly in keeping with the spirit of the deal, the 84-year-old's unilateral action was not strictly speaking in breach of the text.


Section 20.1.3 (l) of the agreement stipulates that President Mugabe "after consultation with the vice-presidents, the prime minister and the deputy prime ministers, allocates ministerial portfolios in accordance with this agreement".

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at a rally on  Sunday 12 October
Mr Tsvangirai says "not even an idiot" would accept the ministries' division

So ultimately the choice of who gets what ministries is up to the president.

"We have consulted with the MDC for four weeks and now we have allocated the ministries. It's very fair," Bright Matonga, former deputy information minister, told the BBC by phone from Harare.

Zanu-PF's version of fairness would mean them retaining control of the security forces through the home affairs and defence ministries.

They would also keep 12 other portfolios including foreign affairs, justice, information and mining.

The MDC factions have been given 16 ministries, including health, education and constitutional affairs.


Finance has been left unassigned - though tellingly only Zanu-PF has a ministerial seat vacant.

Zanu-PF: 14 ministries including:
Foreign affairs
Local government
Main MDC: 13 ministries including:
Constitutional and parliamentary affairs
Economic planning and investment promotion
Arts and culture
Science and technology development
MDC (Mutambara): three including:
Industry and commerce
Source: Government gazette

"It looks like MDC walked into the agreement in the belief that Mugabe had had enough and was willing to move country forward," says Immanuel Hlabangana, a Zimbabwean political analyst.

"I think MDC really didn't foresee the divisions within Zanu-PF and how much many of them disliked the agreement."

The MDC has so far stopped short of withdrawing from the process.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai spoke at a rally on Sunday telling his supporters "not even an idiot" would accept the current division of ministries but that they remained committed to negotiations.

"The question is what strength does Thabo Mbeki now have to whip Mugabe into line?" says Mr Hlabangana.

"This is all Mbeki has left as his legacy so he will be doubly determined to make it work.

"Nobody wants to be seen to walk away from this."

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