Zimbabwe opposition joins unity government
- Zimbabwe opposition joins unity government
By Ephraim Nsingo
Updated Feb 17, 2009
HARARE, Zimbabwe (IPS/GIN) - The spirits of a nation were lifted when
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main section of the Movement for
Democratic Change, declared his party would enter a unity government
under terms negotiated at a special regional summit.
Following an extraordinary meeting of its leaders in Pretoria, South
Africa, on Jan. 26-27, the Southern African Development Community
announced Zimbabwe's political rivals would urgently form a power-
sharing government as initially agreed in September 2008.
Mr. Tsvangirai had indicated the resolution did not fully address the
issues his party had presented to SADC leaders before the meeting.
That led to concern the Movement for Democratic Change would pull out
of the deal, a move many feared would condemn the crisis-torn country
to the abyss.
"Basically, two positions emerged after the SADC summit," a senior
Movement for Democratic Change official said on condition of
anonymity. "There were those who felt we should not go in since the
issues we had (presented) at the SADC meeting were not addressed.
Others however felt that opting out could also have an impact on our
significance on the political scene, especially in light of the
current crisis the country is going through."
Despite the Movement for Democratic Change's earlier hardline stance,
indications that the party would join the unity government emerged a
few hours before Mr. Tsvangirai's announcement, when the party
participated in the setting up of a Joint Monitoring Committee, as
agreed on Sept. 15 last year.
Addressing journalists after the party's national council meeting,
Mr. Tsvangirai said his party had decided to join the unity
government. "We are unequivocal, we will go into this government," he
"SADC has decided, and we are bound by that decision. What the
national council has endorsed is what SADC has endorsed."
But Mr. Tsvangirai quickly warned that his party still had some
issues with ruling ZANU-PF. "This agreement is a significant
milestone on our journey to democracy, but it does not signify that
we have arrived at our destinationwe are committed to establishing a
democratic Zimbabwe regardless of how long that struggle takes us."
There had been growing pessimism in Zimbabwe about the deal ever
being implemented. After agreeing to work together last September,
Mr. Tsvangirai and President Mugabe fell out over control of key
Analysts were quick to point out, however, that there would not be a
smooth transition, after the opposition said it would "continue the
struggle" that saw the deal being stalled for over four months.
"This is just but the beginning," said political analyst Lovemore
Madhuku. "Remember the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) still has
some outstanding issues they said they wanted addressed by SADC.
Those issues are still outstanding. What this means is that the next
few weeks after the swearing in would be spent more on the resolution
of those issues. It's unlikely ZANU-PF will give in so easily."
Mr. Madhuku said it was good the Movement for Democratic Change had
clearly stated its position.
Outside its offices in Harare, party supporters broke into song and
dance when their leader emerged.
"This is just another stage of an ongoing process," said Professor
Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst. "There are a number of
issues that remain unresolved, and differences are likely to emerge
over those issues. The challenge now is to balance that with
resolving the situation on the ground, which needs urgent attention.
The challenge for Tsvangirai is to have effective alternatives on the
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