Thursday, July 24, 2008



July 24 2008 at 00:00
Daily Nation

Signing of the MoU was witnessed by mediator President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, after visits by both United Nations and African Union envoys.

Zimbabweans say pact signifies 'hope' but urges Tsvangirai to be more cautious
Document stipulates consensus must be reached on issues pertaining to governance and policy as the two parties expected to form a government of national unity.
MDC expects the new constitution to pay more attention to presidential terms and trim presidential powers.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai to talk

Zimbabweans have welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the country’s political rivals, but with doubts as to the level of commitment by both President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC.

President Mugabe of ZanuPF and Mr Tsvangirai sat at the same table and even had lunch together for the first time in a decade on Monday as they worked out logistics that would see the beginning of a two-week negotiation meant to bring the country back to sanity.

The signing of the MoU, which was witnessed by the talks’ mediator, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, followed last week’s visits by both United Nations and African Union envoys.

Be more cautious

Zimbabweans, who are currently confused following the failure of similar efforts to bring the two parties together last year, said the pact symbolised ‘a bit’ of hope, but urged Tsvangirai to be more cautious.

“These are anxious moments. People are so hungry and vulnerable that those pressures can affect their level of understanding. We feel Tsvangirai should not lose sight of these factors,” South Africa-based Zimbabwean professor Hilda Mashava said.

The talks also include the leader of the other MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, who did not participate in the presidential election, but whose faction won several parliamentary seats in the March harmonised elections.

Mr Mutambara, unlike Mr Tsvangirai, began supporting a government of national unity settlement well before Tsvangirai.
Many people believe that Mr Tsvangirai should tread carefully, saying Mr Mugabe is a “leopard” who can never change its spots.

The ruling party set a precedent when it frustrated elected opposition mayors in most cities by ensuring their work is under surveillance.

Some of the mayors, including those from Harare and Chitungwiza, were l charge with criminal offences before they were fired.

Wait and see

Most Zimbabweans say they have adopted a wait-and-see attitude as they do not believe the talks were born out of sincerity, but from political and economic pressure.

There is also the issue of the two parties’ inability to come up with a common understanding to resolve the crisis during the last 10 chaotic and difficult years.

“Their sincerity is questionable although as a people who have been degraded and bruised, we should be happy with this historical event. Any patriotic Zimbabwean would be happy to see any settlement that might lead this country back on its feet,” Mr Andrew Kaseke of the Zimbabwean Youth Alliance said.

Since the signing of the framework agreement on Monday, many people in Harare and Bulawayo are eager to read and analyse the contents of the MoU. Those who were privy to the document said it covered almost all critical concerns.

They said the main worry was whether the parties will be able to discuss and agree on all issues on the agenda within the stipulated two weeks.