HARARE – Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC agreed on Friday to join a unity government with President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF.
In September last year the MDC reached a power sharing agreement with Mr Mugabe, but negotiations on the make-up of the government broke down. This week Southern African countries put forward a compromise deal, according to which Mr Tsvangirai is to be sworn in as prime minister of Zimbabwe by 11 February.
Control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, a key bone of contention during the negotiations, is to be shared between the MDC and Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
Following are comments from analysts:
MIKE DAVIES, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA ANALYST, EURASIA GROUP
“The agreement still leaves significant executive power within ZANU-PF and under Mugabe’s control. The fact that it is not supported by Western governments will make it quite difficult for it to represent the advance which it was initially hoped to represent.”
“That (Western support) will be key to really unlocking funding which is going to be increasingly difficult in the current economic environment but without the support of those governments, the deal will have major difficulties in really opening the way for a turnaround of the situation in Zimbabwe”.
ADAM HABIB, POLITICAL ANALYST, UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG
“I think that it is a clever and strategic decision. There are, however, challenges facing the MDC. They have to make sure that they can engage in a way that allows them to achieve what they want and that means they have to learn how to engage Mugabe and the people around him.
“Their success will depend upon how much leverage they get as well as whether they pursue a much more astute engagement. Up to now the MDC has played the American and British card, saying: ‘If you want reconstruction money then you must go through us.’ Now they have to say: ‘We’ll engage with the Americans and British but we’re also committed to the anti-colonial agenda.”
RICHARD SEGAL, STRATEGIST, UBA CAPITAL
“If you had had a coalition government formed last year, what you would have seen would have been a large South African and international aid package. You will also have seen much more foreign direct investment particularly in agricultural and mineral commodities which were doing very well then.
“The situation now is very different. While Zimbabwe’s requirement for aid is not relatively very great the international community is very distracted”.
“Some foreign investors did buy into Zimbabwe around the time of the election last year and they have been very dismayed by what has happened since”.
“It is hard to imagine them putting new money in now. The Zimbabwean economy is very dependent on remittances particularly from those in the South African mining sector and they have also been reduced”. “A lot of people are going to be sceptical as to how well this coalition will last. But Zimbabwe cannot remain a failed state forever. I would hesitate to forecast any growth figures for this year but once they do get their act together they could well grow 20 percent a year and the economy could double in size over four or five years”.
ELDRED MASUNUNGURE, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE
“Mugabe had manouvered himself into a position where he was now, almost effectively, hammering the point that the economy was getting worse, that people were suffering because the MDC was refusing to join the government.”
“The larger MDC constituency also favours this agreement, and here Tsvangirai is responding to that constituency to give it a try.”
“This move is also a recognition on Tsvangirai’s part that if the MDC is not going to have the benefit of a new election, in terms of strategy there is also very little else it can do at the moment.”
“If it doesn’t work, he can legitimately blame Mugabe for that but he will obviously suffer from those who believe that Mugabe is a completely untrustworthy and doesn’t deserve any kind of cooperation”
JOHN MAKUMBE, ZIMBABWEAN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR
“It’s such a huge gamble particularly if Mugabe doesn’t deliver on the other issues that the MDC has been demanding. It’s a test for the MDC which will have a big bearing on its future,” he said.-Reuters