Zimbabwe political parties to sign SADC-brokered power-sharing deal

by Richard Nyamanhindi – SANF 08 No 62
A power-sharing agreement between the main political parties in Zimbabwe will be signed on 15 September with several African leaders in attendance.

The agreement between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The SADC-appointed facilitator, South African President Thabo Mbeki told a press conference that President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara had agreed to a political settlement that will be unveiled to the public on 15 September.

“I would like to announce that we have concluded the negotiations that the parties have been engaged in. An agreement has been reached (and) there will be a signing ceremony on Monday in Harare.

“The documents that have been agreed on and signed by the principals today (Thursday) will be officially signed at a ceremony to be attended by regional and continental leaders to express their support for this agreement,” Mbeki said.

In the meantime the three parties led by Mugabe of ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai and Mutambara of the two MDC factions will work out the composition of the new all-inclusive government.

“An agreement has been reached on all of the matters that were on the agenda,” Mbeki added.

Mbeki urged the international community to respect the deal saying the agreement represented the will of all Zimbabweans.

“This agreement comes from Zimbabweans themselves and this is what makes it inevitable that it will succeed because it comes from Zimbabweans and is owned by the Zimbabwean people.

“The rest of the world needs to respect that the people of Zimbabwe have made a decision about the future of their country and the rest of us, we are foreigners and need to respect what the people of Zimbabwe have said,” said the chief mediator.

Due to a political impasse in recent years, Zimbabwe had seen its economy decline to its lowest ebb with inflation reaching record levels.

A political settlement is thus expected to help the country solve its economic challenges.

Negotiations started in earnest on 21 July, after the three parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) but stalled on 13 August over the allocation of executive powers between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Under the new deal, the expectation is that Mugabe and Tsvangirai will share some aspects of executive power and leadership of government, however the roles of the two leaders will be made public on Monday during the official signing ceremony.

SADC leaders tasked Mbeki to facilitate the negotiations in March 2007, and the African Union (AU) Summit recently endorsed Mbeki as the chief mediator and pledged to support him in his role.

Inter-party talks produced a constitutional amendment that paved the way for harmonised elections in March. Tsvangirai was ahead of the other three candidates after the first round of the presidential election but fell short of the required 50 percent, necessitating a run-off on 27 June that was won by Mugabe.

The talks resumed following signing of the MOU in July but stalled early last month after the parties failed to agree on sharing of executive powers.

The SADC Summit in South Africa last month “encouraged and appealed to the parties to sign any outstanding agreements and conclude the negotiations as a matter of urgency to restore political stability in Zimbabwe”.

The Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation that met at the same time called for the swearing in of Members of the House of Assembly and Senators.

This took place two weeks ago, with Tsvangirai’s party winning the post of Speaker in the House of Assembly for their Chairperson, Lovemore Moyo, while the candidate from Mutambara’s MDC was elected Deputy Speaker.

Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, won the posts of President and Deputy President of the upper house, the Senate.

The latest agreement will now pave the way for an all-inclusive government whose major task will be to turn around the economy.