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Posted February 18, 2009 | 10:01 AM (EST)

Zimbabwe Skeptical As Tsvangirai Joins Government


Published by GroundReport.com, a global citizen reporting platform with 4,000 contributors worldwide.

By Charles Rukuni.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Zimbabwe's second Prime Minister on February 11 but the historic event was greeted with a lot of cynicism by a world that wanted only one thing- Mugabe to go.

Some of the headlines that day said it all. Tsvangirai had made a terrible mistake by giving in to pressure from African leaders.

"Zimbabwe chooses an African delusion" one headline said. The story went on: "This power-sharing deal was touted as an African solution to an African problem. In fact, it is a testament to failed leadership and the appallingly low standards of democratic accountability in Africa."

Another headline was more straight forward: "A bad deal for Zimbabwe" it proclaimed. The paper said Morgan Tsvangirai and his party and the millions who voted for them (the actual vote was only 1.2 million) in last year's elections should not be in any doubt about who wields real power in the country they have tried and so far failed to change.

"That man is still Robert Mugabe ... This is not a government of unity, but of coercion and co-option. By joining it, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which Mr Tsvangirai has led for ten years at great personal risk, is in danger of legitimising the very tyranny it sought to end."

Under the headline: "Divide and Rule", an editor wrote: "This is not remotely a unity government, or even a power-sharing government in the true sense of the word. It will be, if it survives, a government in which power is constantly disputed."

A Zimbabwe journalist living in exile described the swearing in of Tsvangirai as a "monumental tragedy" and "the prostitution of democracy".

"There was nothing historic nor momentous about today's occasion," he wrote. "Mr Tsvangirai's oath merely threw a lifeline to a heartless, wretched dictator who lost elections but shamelessly clung to power.

"There is something rotten about African politics and the mantra of "African solutions for African problems". The age of bloody military coups is over. In its place is a new depressing trend in which incumbents lose elections but hang on knowing that the so-called African Union will close ranks and knit together some flawed power sharing deal which leaves them in control."

The world and those in exile have every reason to be skeptical because of the way Mugabe literally stole power from Tsvangirai after losing the first round in the presidential elections last year. But for Zimbabweans, this is the dawn to a new political order which can only see the country getting better.

Throughout Zimbabwe's history during both the colonial period and after, the country has never had a government as unique as the one it has today. The country's politics has always been dominated by one party from the days of the Unit Party under Godfrey Huggins to the Rhodesian Front of Ian Smith and ZANU-PF of Robert Mugabe. But today the country's two major political parties have equal seats. One has 100 and the other 99. This means that they have to depend on each other to make major changes.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have, however, already been written off as sworn enemies who will not be able to work together. But Tsvangirai has given the nation hope.

"We will never forget the dark past," he told his supporters after being sworn in. "But we will move a programme of reconciliation and national healing so that we unite as a nation. We should not allow that to happen again in a new Zimbabwe."

If he maintains this attitude, Tsvangirai will steer the country back onto the path of economic recovery and prosperity, with or without, Western aid. What Zimbabwe needs most today is not aid, but the restoration of confidence and pride in one's country among its people.The labour movement, which Tsvangirai once led, has long realised that this is the country's biggest problem.

While it might be difficult to believe, the power-sharing agreement reached by Mugabe and Tsvangirai was a "divine arrangement" because "God is in control" of this country so "nothing can go wrong again."

Zimbabwe is going to prosper and will once again be a beacon in the region. People from the region will flock into the country to look for jobs and to enjoy its wealth within the next three years.


Charles Rukuni is a Zimbabwean journalist with over 30 years in the field. Go to GroundReport.com for more coverage from Zimbabwe. GroundReport is a citizen journalism platform that allows anyone to publish global news and earn money.