Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Zim power "sharing" government sworn in

The long-awaited national unity government in Zimbabwe was sworn in last week. Morgan Tsvangirai, who should have been inaugurated as president based on last year's vote, was instead sworn in as prime minister by the long-time dictator Robert Mugabe. Several other members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were also sworn in to the cabinet.

But it remains to be seen whether Tsvangirai and MDC cabinet members will have any real power, as Mugabe and his cronies will surely be loathe to relinquish their perks.

As the UK Independent notes: The first litmus test will be the sacking of Gideon Gono, the man who has bankrolled the Mugabe regime from his post as head of the central bank. "Clearly he's got to go," said the source. "Otherwise there will be no coherence on the economy and the international community won't give us the time of day."

If Prime Minister Tsvangirai is unable to wrest any real power away from the Mugabe cabal, then nothing will happen and the 'national unity' government will collapse.

I am reminded of the power sharing agreement in Guinea that ended the 2007 general strike. Then-head of state Lansana Conté accepted the union's pick for prime minister Lansana Kouyaté and some cabinet positions. But Conté and his cabal obstructed Kouyaté and the technocrat ministers, nothing got done and Kouyaté was eventually sacked by Conté replaced by another crony. Conté deftly diffused the momentum toward contestation without solving any of the underlying problems.

There is a serious risk that the same will happen in Zimbabwe. Ultimately, it's impossible to see Zimbabwe's implosion halting while Mugabe and his thieves are still in power. Just today, it was reported that Mugabe bought a $5.7 million house* in Hong Kong while his people are starving and dying of cholera.

(*-Of course, that's $5.7 million in US dollars. That amount in Zimbabwean dollars wouldn't even buy a quarter of a loaf of bread)

As if to illustrate the criminals' desperation, the MDC deputy agriculture minister-designate was arrested by the regime on trumped up terrorism charges.

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