Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Zimbabwe coalition govt will work - analysts

2009-02-13 - By Jan Ajwang - Guardian

The coalition government in Zimbabwe must work if the country is to recover from its current political, economic and humanitarian quagmire, experts have said.

Reacting to Wednesday`s swearing-in of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister in Zimbabwe`s newly-formed national unity government, they said it would also be a good thing for Tanzania and other countries, especially in the SADC region.

``When these things (the problems in Zimbabwe) happen to one of us all of us suffer. And so when things get better we are all happy.

It is in our best interest to see a stable and peaceful Zimbabwe,`` Prof. Rwekaza Mukandala, vice-chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, said.

He noted that the coalition would work only to the extent to which the different parties were committed to making it so.

Given the current situation in Zimbabwe and the level of suffering of the people the parties have no alternative but to make the coalition work. I think it can work, I think it will work and it must work, he said.

In last year`s presidential election Tsvangirai won in the first round but pulled out of the race ahead of the run-off because his supporters were being victimized.

The 84-year-old Mugabe went through the run-off anyway and declared himself president of Zimbabwe for the twenty-eighth year.

The two parties have since been engaged in a power-sharing deal that was dogged by numerous stalemates.

John Chiligati, publicity and ideological secretary of the ruling CCM, said he believed the principal parties in Zimbabwe were `genuine.`

``We believe that both parties - Mugabe and Tsvangirai - are genuine in coming together to create a coalition that will put the interests of the people of Zimbabwe first. If they genuinely have Zimbabwe at heart, then we believe that it will work,`` he said.

He said Tanzania which, like Zimbabwe, is a member of SADC, welcomed the power-sharing deal between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

By having a power-sharing government we are optimistic that the situation will get better. We are now assured of peace, stability and economic recovery in that country, he said.

Professor Mwesiga Baregu, a renowned political analyst from the University of Dar es Salaam, said a power-sharing government was a positive direction for Zimbabwe, considering how critical the situation had become.

It is a good move and it promises to repair some of the divisions that had happened in the country and among the people, and we hope that Zimbabweans can work together to rebuild their country, he said.

In his view, the efforts by SADC leaders had to be acknowledged in working towards enforcing this deal amidst skepticism from the West.

Baregu also argued that the success of the coalition government would depend on how focused both parties are in terms of defining what needs to be done in the immediate period.``

He noted that the country badly needed a new constitution and reforms had to be undertaken immediately.

He said Zimbabwe was also faced with a humanitarian crisis, with over 3000 people dying from cholera and the number feared to increase by the day.

Baregu said the country was also grappling with obscene inflation rates - at over one million per cent - and recently the country issued trillion-dollar notes which were of little value.

With this financial hiccup the country would definitely need funds for reconstruction but warned that this might not happen soon.

``It all depends on the support from the West - the United Kingdom, the European Union, United States of America and others.

However, they have been skeptical and cynical about the power-sharing deal. We can only hope that they would change their position and come in to provide the necessary assistance,`` Baregu noted.

Analysts say that the development community and donor countries may be reluctant to inject aid into Zimbabwe unless they are convinced that the power-sharing deal will work.

Baregu noted that while the United Nations had a key role to play in further fostering peace and getting its members to get involved in Zimbabwe, Tanzania too had a role to play to see that there was peace and stability because it played a great role in seeing that Zimbabwe signed the 1979 Lancaster Agreement which ended racial rule in the country and paved the way for Zimbabwe`s independence with Mugabe as president.