Monday, September 15, 2008



September 15, 2008
The Standard

If it goes according to plan a new chapter opens tomorrow in Zimbabwe’s depressing history. President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have agreed to a power-sharing plan and Africa waits, albeit with bated breath, for the leaders of the southern Africa country who have been wrangling over the last three months to seal the deal.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Multi-party Democracy’s spokesman Elphas Moknoweshuro disclosed Mugabe would remain President but would share executive power, like it happened in Kenya, with his fiercest rival.

"Mr Mugabe continues to retain the position of President, Mr Tsvangirai becomes the Prime Minister, the new prime minister," he added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was also instrumental in Kenya’s power sharing deal, as the head of the global family of nations, was optimistic "the deal would pave way for a durable peace and recovery, and would open the door for rapid improvement in the welfare and human rights of the people of Zimbabwe, who have suffered for long.’’

Lead mediator, Zimbabwe’s fashion of our own Dr Kofi Annan, South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki said: "It is inevitable that it succeeds. This agreement was made in Zimbabwe, it is owned by the Zimbabwean people and the rest of the world needs to respect that.’’

In a few hours we shall know if Zimbabwe is about to haul itself from the cesspit of misrule, dictatorship, gerrymandering and the legendary electoral fraud and hounding of the opposition.

It amounts to nothing if Mugabe opens the door for the MDC that beat him in the first round of presidential election, but boycotted the re-run after the President declared he would not vacate office, and continues with his roguish ways.

He, after all, declared himself the holder of seven degrees in violence, and lined up his so-called ‘veterans’ to harangue and hound MDC supporters.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe, whose life expectancy has halved since he took over, stumbled through its worst political and economic crises, topping the world in inflation and Zim-dollars literally being useless heaps of paper. Inflation rate in Mugabe’s haemorrhaging personal fiefdom last week stood at 11.2 million per cent.

Zimbabwe, which under Uncle Bob’s villainous and ruinous rule turned from a food basket to a basket case, is grappling with grinding poverty, astronomical inflation levels, decay of social fabric and alienation by the rest of the world.

Zimbabwe, of course, still has a few allies, mainly across its border.

But for the rest of Africa, through African leaders, in their skewed sense of non-interference and collective responsibility, would not come out forthrightly, you only touch Mugabe with a long pole. Beneath the veneer, they all however, including those in the South who have grappled with the shockwave of upheavals in Zimbabwe, want to see its economic meltdown and political catharsis reversed.

But as Africa breathes a sigh of relief, it must be understood power sharing was the best option, as it was in Kenya. , given the prospect of bloodshed, anarchy and continued slide into the precipice. But it never is a substitute for democracy.

As we in Kenya learnt the hard way, even the most blissful nation can sink in a week if polls are mishandled and fair contest abused.