Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his arch political rival Morgan Tsvangirai have signed an historic power-sharing deal. It is hoped the agreement will bring to an end to months of bitter fighting between Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. The two men will share power, with Mugabe retaining his presidential office. Tsvangirai will become Prime Minister.
The accord, brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki in the Zimbabwwean capital Harare, means Morgan Tsvangirai will lead a council of ministers, responsible for managing the country’s affairs with Robert Mugabe remaining as head of state and head of the Cabinet.
The MDC and a breakaway opposition faction will hold 16 seats, Zanu PF 15. In effect Mugabe will control the army and Tsvangirai, the police. Mugabe won a controversial presidential run-off vote in June. He ran unopposed after his rival withdrew accusing ZANU PF of persuing a campaign of violence against the MDC.
Tsvangirai is believed to have garnered more votes than Mugabe in the first round of the presidential election in March but official results claimed he did not receive enough support to proclaim outright victory.
The ensuing chaos led to clashes in the streets displacing many people whose homes were destroyed. As many as 90 people are believed to have died, mainly MDC supporters. Neighbouring countries, including South Africa, were overwhelmed, hosting tens of thousand of refugees fleeing the fighting.
The question now is, will the pact hold? A sceptical world will wait and see if this deal really does result in executive power-sharing. Zimbabwe’s once booming economy is in freefall with inflation running at eleven million per cent.
The MDC leader made it clear the deal was a “painful” compromise, saying his first priority was to end the country’s appalling food shortages. The Unity government will now press Europe and its own African neighbours to intensify aid and lift sanctions on Zimbabwean officials.