Neither side wants a power-sharing government but at least it might stop the violence
Quietly, within days of the disputed 10-12 March presidential election, the outline of a deal between Zimbabwe's warring political parties emerged. After two years of rising tension, with one of Africa's most hopeful economies heading for the abyss, it looked like the last chance for political peace. Brokered by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
and Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo
, the deal proposes: a coalition government with ministers from all parties and some non-partisan figures; a review of recent oppressive laws on public assembly and the media; full implementation of the Abuja agreement stipulating orderly land redistribution, to be financed by Britain and international financial institutions. Also under discussion is the dropping of treason charges against Morgan Tsvangirai
, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and its Secretary General, Welshman Ncube
. Tsvangirai was formally charged on 20 March in a move that will make negotiations even more problematic Time is pressing. The mood in the streets of Harare and Bulawayo is angry and mainly backs the MDC; almost everyone believes Tsvangirai was cheated of victory. The anger is not just political. The United Nations World Food Programme says over 500,000 people are malnourished and three times as many have registered for food aid. Usually cautious commentators forecast maize-meal riots within weeks, unless the government organises emergency distribution not just to the ruling party's supporters.
Zimbabwe's nomenklatura and their business friends now face tightening economic 'smart' sanctions from the European Union and United States. Instead of widening the range of sancti...
The government is transitional but the opposition fears its power is permanent
The four-month-old transitional government is, in some ways, the one intended by the agreement signed in Arusha, Tanzania, in August 2000. President Pierre Buyoya is as firmly in c...