Details are emerging of the power-sharing deal between Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Democracy activists and foreign governments have responded cautiously.
Reports suggest that under the accord, reached after several weeks of talks, Robert Mugabe will remain President, head of the armed forces and chair the cabinet in which his Zanu-PF party will have 15 ministers. The current two ZANU-PF vice presidents, Joseph Msika and Joyce Mujuru will stay in post.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will become Prime minister, chair a newly-created council of ministers or national security council, and control the police force. Tsvangirai will also have two deputies, one from ZANU-PF and the other likely to be Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a rival MDC faction. The Movement for Democratic Change will have 16 ministers, including three from the minority Mutambara faction.
Ominously, reports suggest that Tsvangirai’s ZANU-PF deputy will be the hard-line Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former head of the country’s Central Intelligence Organization and alleged architect of the country’s post-election violence.
Details of Cabinet seats have yet to be released, but Mugabe will keep overall control, and ZANU-PF will probably maintain control of ministries covering national security. Tsvangirai is likely to become foreign affairs minister and the MDC will take control of economic affairs.
The deal will be finalized over the weekend, but democratic and civil society activists appear divided in their response. Tsvangirai today said he was “satisfied with the content of the agreement’. But while some describe the deal as a capitulation to Mugabe, others believe it is a necessary compromise given the circumstances.
“The fact that Mugabe remains in power as head of state and head of government means the MDC is the one coming into this deal as a junior partner,” said Lovemore Madhuku, head of National Constitutional Assembly. He described the pact as “capitulation” by the MDC, since Tsvangirai would have only “cosmetic authority”.
The deal is “more image management than a substantial shift in executive power,” suggests a Stratfor analysis. “Ultimately, the deal will not substantially alter Mugabe’s grip on power due to his expected continued control over the most significant Cabinet positions and ministries.”
“Given Mugabe’s control over the armed forces and a capable private militia (not to mention veto power in the country’s Senate over any untoward MDC moves in Zimbabwe’s lower house of assembly), his government will be able to contain Tsvangirai’s from several angles,” it concludes.
But some opposition figures believe that difficult compromises were necessary to end the stalemate and create the political space for a future genuine democratic transition. “We wanted a titular head of state with an executive prime minister but that did not happen,” said MDC chairman and parliamentary speaker Lovemore Moyo. “So what we got at the end of the day perhaps was probably nearly a sister-sister power-sharing.”
Other observers suggest the power-sharing deal will remain fragile given the lack of trust between the two parties. The co-existence of two centers of power could also be a recipe for political paralysis and eventual conflict.
The deal was brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki, acting on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the mediation process was seen as a test of Africa’s ability to take ownership of its own problems. “We have seen African mediators brokering peace and stability solutions in African conflicts like in Burundi, Ivory Coast and other places. This is another example of that,” said Olmo Von Meijenfeldt an analyst from the Institute of Democracy in South Africa. “The deal will change perceptions about African-led mediation,” he believes.
Civil society groups are also concerned that the deal reportedly offers an amnesty to security services personnel responsible for violent atrocities and human rights violations. Zimbabwe’s National Association of Non Governmental Organisations yesterday called for the ‘pursuit of comprehensive justice during times of political transition’, advocating ‘retributive justice’ and ‘truth seeking’.