Page last updated at 19:06 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 20:06 UK

Zimbabwe talks delayed for a week

MDC rally in Masvingo, 19 October 2008
Opposition supporters want a new government to resurrect the economy

Regional negotiations on power sharing in Zimbabwe have been postponed for a week, officials have said.

The news came as Zimbabwe's main opposition party snubbed the talks in Swaziland after its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, did not get a passport.

Leaders had been due to meet after talks in Zimbabwe failed to produce a deal on assigning cabinet jobs.

Meanwhile, Botswana suggested the only way to break the deadlock in Zimbabwe might be to hold fresh elections.

Talks will now resume in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on 27 October, according to a statement from the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mr Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe agreed to share power last month, after a long stand-off over elections earlier this year.

Private jet

But Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to grab power by allocating all the key ministerial positions to his Zanu-PF party.

Botswana's government said in a statement that without a resolution to Zimbabwe's dispute, the only viable way forward might be to hold a new poll under international supervision.

The BBC's Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the statement carries an air of desperation.

Tsvangirai was supposed to attend, but due to technical problems... he was not able to come
Swazi King Mswati III

Given the bloodshed during the last presidential election it is hard to see how this could be undertaken without foreign troops or a terrible loss of life, he says.

On Monday Swazi King Mswati III had offered to send a private jet to pick up Mr Tsvangirai in Harare, but the Zimbabwean opposition leader reportedly said he would only come to Swaziland if he was given a new passport.

King Mswati is a member of the security panel on the SADC, along with the leaders of Angola and Mozambique.

"Tsvangirai was supposed to attend, but due to technical problems, which have occured from his side, he was not able to come," King Mswati said.

"That's why the meeting is taking place in Harare."

'Mere symptom'

Mr Tsvangirai has not had a normal passport for several months.

He was reportedly given an emergency document only valid for a single trip to Swaziland. However the only way of getting from Zimbabwe to Swaziland is via South Africa.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said the difficulties Mr Tsvangirai has had getting travel documents made it clear that Mr Mugabe was not ready to share power, the Associated Press news agency reported.

"The issue of a passport is a mere symptom," he said.

Zanu-PF: 15 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

"The real problem [is] there is no readiness on the part of Zanu-PF to engage in a co-operative government with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC."

Mr Biti said the MDC would not send anyone else to Swaziland and called for a full summit of all 12 members of SADC.

But Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu dismissed the MDC claim as "a gimmick", reported the Reuters news agency.

"He has been given a travel document. South Africa is mediating, how can they deny him passage?"

Mr Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, said Mr Tsvangirai had not been given a passport because "Zimbabwe is running out of paper... because of sanctions", reports the AFP news agency.

President Mugabe has allocated the main ministries, including defence, home, foreign affairs, and justice to Zanu-PF.

As well as finance, the MDC also insisted it should have home affairs - and control of the police - if Zanu-PF had defence.

The MDC accused the security services of taking part in violent attacks on its supporters before June's presidential run-off election.

Reports on Friday suggested that Mr Mugabe might have agreed to let the MDC take the key post of finance minister, but that he would not give it home affairs.

Finance is one of the most crucial posts, as Zimbabweans hope the power-sharing deal will lead to action to tackle the economic crisis.

Donors have promised to help finance a recovery plan but they are unlikely to release funds if a Zanu-PF minister is in charge.

At 231,000,000%, Zimbabwe has the world's highest rate of annual inflation. Some two million people need food aid and non-governmental agencies warn that figure could double within the next few months.

Infographic showing power-sharing deal

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