Zimbabwe's power-sharing pact: Can rivals make it work?
Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed Monday to a deal that splits the government, but keeps the military under Mugabe.
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"If you have a deal of whatever form where these two sides are willing to share power, it is implausible that it will work when one of those two sides, the government, used violence against the other side that it now has to work with," says Steven Friedman, a senior analyst at the Institute for Democracy in Southern Africa in Johannesburg.Skip to next paragraph
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The MDC claims that 130 of its members were killed by security forces or pro-Mugabe militias in the past six months.
Any real power-sharing deal would have taken on the military, Mr. Friedman adds, and its financial dealings and its control of resources in Zimbabwe. "My sense is that the generals are confident that Tsvangirai cannot exercise power in a way that impinges on their well-being. They are not going to let him strain into what they regard as no-go areas."
"The world has too many examples of what happens when people are driven by past wrongs rather than the hope of future glories," said Tsvangirai, in a speech Monday after the signing. "I have chosen to be guided by hope and if you join me in this, we will not fail to witness the rebirth of our nation."
That said, a power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe could pave the way for an influx of Western financial aid and business investment that has been held back by years of sanctions against the Mugabe regime.
The European Union – a key donor to African countries – has postponed a decision on whether to extend sanctions against Zimbabwe until it can study how the Mugabe-Tsvangirai power-sharing deal is working. The EU's foreign-policy group will hold its next meeting in October.
The deal also relieves political and economic pressure on Zimbabwe's neighbors, all of which have taken in a flood of Zimbabwean refugees in the past decade of Zimbabwe's economic collapse. The Zimbabwe political crisis had split members of the regional body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which had appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki as a mediator.
The agreement calls for the lifting of "smart sanctions" imposed on Mugabe and his cronies by Western countries based on allegations of gross human rights abuses. The agreement also calls for the writing of a new Constitution. A select committee to work on a new Constitution will be set up within two months of inception of a new government.
University of Zimbabwe political commentator Simon Badza says the signing of the deal was a necessary and important step in the right direction. "However, we will see the substance and the workability of the deal on the implementation," he cautions.
John Makumbe, another University of Zimbabwe political scientist and a fierce critic of Mugabe, says the deal will only work if the political protagonists agree on the allocation of ministries. "If they agree on the allocation of ministries and the other finer details, it will work out," says Mr. Makumbe. "They have already demonstrated the spirit that they can work together."
Tendai Kurebwa, a ZANU-PF supporter from Harare's suburbs, is hopeful that the signing of the agreement will end the current economic problems affecting the country. "I am a true ZANU-PF supporter but this crisis had condemned me to being a beggar. I cannot afford food or school fees for my three children. It opens a new chapter in the history of the country, and I hope it will end my woes."
• A reporter in Harare contributed to this report. The name is being withheld for security reasons.