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October 16, 2008

Zimbabwean Power Sharing Deal in Jeopardy
Posted by The Editors

This post is from NSN intern Amanda Hillman

Today is the third day of negotiations between Zimbabweans President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai regarding the structure and leadership of their government under a new power-sharing deal. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki facilitated the dual-executive agreement after Tsvangirai pulled out of the June 2008 run-off election in response to the Zimbabwean Army's brutal violence towards his supporters, which some allege constituted violations of human rights. Mugabe and Tsvangirai have both expressed the desire to move forward on establishing a viable, working cabinet, but Mugabe's recent announcement that only his loyalists would run all the ministries, including the Army and police forces, underscores his lack of interest in a legitimate power-sharing deal, and consequently, the unlikelihood he would act in good faith on it. Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has stated that he will not participate in a government which excludes his party.

This has once again left Zimbabwe in limbo and leaves little clarity on how to move things forward.

Having been recently ousted from both his party and the Presidency of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki seems an unlikely mediator for the two Zimbabwean leaders, and his pro-Mugabe leanings delegitimize his role, effectiveness, and his participation as an envoy from South Africa. Additionally, observers note the seeming aloofness Mr. Mbeki has displayed as a negotiator; the lack of serious commitment to resolving the power-sharing dilemma begs the question of responsibility on the part of a leader of the regional power, in this case, South Africa.

Meanwhile, this afternoon, the LA Times reported that police in southern Zimbabwe “used sticks to beat women…who were urging politicians to resolve their differences and turn their attention to their suffering people…” The women are part of a civil rights group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, who were staging a sit-in to draw attention to the ongoing food crisis. “How many more Zimbabweans must die before you act?...This is a national disaster and we demand food for all Zimbabweans now,” their statement read.  Earlier this month, the World Food Program said that Zimbabwe was facing a food crisis so serious it was put in a “category all its own in a region where most nations are poor…The U.N. estimates 45 percent of Zimbabwe’s population…will need food help by early 2009.”

Today’s New York Times editorial page offers up a harsh reality check, as well as a prescription for action; "Until there is a fair agreement, the army generals and cronies blocking a fairer deal must be denied visas to travel abroad. Their foreign bank accounts and other assets must be frozen. Their stonewalling should not come cost-free.”  It is past time greater international action was taken.


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Hi Amanda,

I just wanted to let you know that linked to your article today in a piece we wrote titled "Mugabe sours the deal,' ( We enjoyed reading your take on this subject.

Thanks, and all the best,
Harold Maass

Hi Mr. Haas,
Thank you for your interest and for reading Democracy Arsenal.

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