Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai rejoins troubled unity government – with conditions
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Tsvangirai , who had withdrawn from the powersharing government after Mugabe arrested a party leader, says he is giving the president 30 days to address oustanding issues. A regional coalition meeting in Mozambique pressed the leaders to resolve their differences..
Johannesburg; and Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's on-again, off-again coalition government is on again. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announced Thursday that he had suspended his "disengagement" from the powersharing government with President Robert Mugabe, adding that Mr. Mugabe has 30 days to meet the outstanding issues of their global political agreement.Skip to next paragraph
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A meeting of regional leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), convened in Mozambique to discuss the country's political crisis, called on the coalition government to settle their outstanding issues this week, a sort of hard shove to get the stalled powersharing government moving again.
Mr. Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had stopped meeting with their Mugabe cabinet colleagues for two weeks after Mugabe's police detained an MDC senior leader on charges of terrorism.
Yet Zimbabwe's coalition government is reunited in name only, analysts say, and it is "unrealistic" to expect the rival parties to resolve their outstanding issues within the 30-day deadline. Like a political diamond, Mugabe – whose party controls the police, the Army, the intelligence service, the courts, the reserve bank, and most other key ministries – only hardens under pressure, and his long track record of obfuscation and his failure to resolve the outstanding issues suggests that the current crisis is only likely to deepen even further.
"Mugabe is impervious to external pressure," says Aubrey Matshiqi, a longtime political analyst for the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. "ZANU PF [Mugabe's party] enjoys the advantages of a repressive Zimbabwe government, while the MDC [Tsvangirai's party] suffers from a smaller share of power."
Zimbabwe's neighbors can do little
In the absence of firm intervention – a hard-edged investigative body to determine whether free and fair elections are possible – Zimbabwe's neighbors can do little to put pressure on Mugabe, leaving the 85-year-old liberation leader free to continue to dither and govern at will, Mr. Matshiqi says.
But for now, at least, Zimbabwe's political crisis appears to be postponed.
"We have suspended our disengagement from the GPA [global political agreement] with immediate effect, and we will give President Robert Mugabe 30 days to implement the agreement on the pertinent issues we are concerned about," Tsvangirai told reporters after the regional summit.
The MDC "disengaged" from the inclusive government citing Mugabe's reluctance to address outstanding issues of the GPA, signed in September last year.
Political analysts say the time frame given by the former opposition party leader was "too short," and could further deepen the crisis when ZANU PF fails to meet the strict deadline.
They note that Mugabe faces severe pressure from ZANU PF hardliners determined to maintain their hold on political power and Zimbabwe's economic resources.