Mixed responses to Zimbabwe power sharing deal

By staff writers
September 12, 2008

There has been hope but also caution laced with anxiety among social justice and human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe to the news of a power sharing deal between President Mugabe and the opposition, mediated by South Africa.

Some say it paves a way forward for the time when Mugabe will have to step down and will reduce immediate bloodshed in a situation where Zanu-PF still has massive control over what is left of the state and the army.

Others suggest that, in the words of expert analyst Mike Davies of Eurasia, "the real issues are in the details of the deal. [I]t appears to be a complicated power-sharing agreement that will be difficult to manage, and it leaves significant amounts of executive power with Mugabe."

The talks, mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, have been taking place in Harare. Details of the negotiations will be made public on 15 September 2008, Mbeki told a televised news conference yesterday.

"It is inevitable that it will succeed", he said - a phrase which has caused astonishment among seasoned Zimbabwe watchers.

The South African leader, who has resisted the confrontational political strategy towards Mugabe favoured by the West, declared: "This agreement was made in Zimbabwe, it is owned by the Zimbabwean people and the rest of the world needs to respect that."

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai broke a six-month political deadlock and agreed to share power in a country wracked by the world's highest inflation rate.

"A deal has been agreed... more details will be available shortly," Tsvangirai, the 56-year-old leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, said in Harare.

Some key points of the new accord apparently include the appointment of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, who will control a newly created council of ministers. Mugabe will remain president and make appointments to a 31- member Cabinet, including 13 members of the MDC and three from a faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara.

Representatives of Mugabe and Tsvangirai began talks after the MDC leader boycotted a second-round of presidential elections in June 2008, citing violence against his supporters. Mugabe, whose country is experiencing an annual inflation of 11.2 million percent, was under pressure from neighboring states and other countries to end the impasse, which has forced about a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million people to flee the nation, reports Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/).

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