As political rivals sign power sharing deal
Can water and fire now mix in Zimbabwe?
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Just a few hours after Zimbabwe’s main political parties, Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change reached an agreement for an inclusive government last Thursday night, President Robert Mugabe reportedly told the council of traditional chiefs at their (chiefs) annual conference in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, the following morning, that Zanu PF and MDC are like “fire and water” and that “they will never mix.’
Said Mugabe, ”Putting Zanu PF and the MDC together to work together is like mixing water and fire…It is quite difficult for these parties to be friends especially if one party is being sponsored by the outside countries that are pushing for a regime change agenda. They want Mugabe to go.”
Today, the two long time political rivals formally signed a historic power sharing deal in front of African dignitaries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), representatives from the United Nations, European Union and over 2000 invited guests at the Harare International Conference Center. Mugabe remains the country’s President but with diluted executive powers, Tsvangirai takes the role of Prime Minister while the leader of a breakaway MDC, Professor Arthur Mutambara, is the Deputy Prime Minister.
The big question in Zimbabwe at the moment is, can water and fire now mix?
Tsvangirai told the gathering that he signed the agreement because of his desire to see a renewed Zimbabwe that pin its energy on nation building and put past differences aside.
“I have signed this agreement because I believe it represents the best opportunity for us to build a peaceful, prosperous and, democratic Zimbabwe…. I have signed this agreement because my belief in Zimbabwe and its peoples runs deeper than the scars I bear from the struggle…. I have signed this agreement because my hope for the future is greater than the grief that I have for the needless suffering of the past years.”
Tsvangirai said the agreement is a “result of painful compromise” and that it will not bring an “instant cure” to the fortunes of Zimbabwe but that “patience is a virtue.”
He said his first priority as Prime Minister is to see that the crisis of food in Zimbabwe is addressed and that doors to international aid are “unlocked.’
“The international aid organisations came to help our country and found our doors locked. We need to unlock our doors to aid. We need food and doctors back in our country. We need electricity, petrol…. to access cash in our banks…this unity government will let businesses flourish so our people can work and provide their families with pride.”
Thousands of Zimbabwe face starvation and professionals including teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers flee to neghbouring countries in search of better working conditions. Zimbabwe has the highest inflation in the world at a record 11,2 million percent.
In his usual style President Mugabe said the problem in Zimbabwe is one “created” by the former “colonial power,’ Britain and its meddling in his country’s domestic affairs and calling for “regime change” and imposing sanctions.
“The problem we have had is a problem created by former colonial powers, who wanted to continue interfering in our domestic affairs and continue to have a share of our natural resources. This is what we have resisted.”
There were however jeers from the crowd when Mugabe said opposition political parties in Zimbabwe “want to be the ruling party” and will “devise ways and means of getting there including violence.”
He was at pains to correct his utterance.
“I am not referring to you, but I am referring to the system as we see it in Africa. That is what it is. I can give examples. What is happening in Mozambique? In Ivory Coast? It will take us time to get to a position where opposition parties will confine themselves to peaceful ways.”
Mugabe however said he is committed to see the deal work.
“People will want to see if what we promise is indeed what we strive to do…we are committed. I am committed. Let us all be committed.”
Professor Arthur Mutambara called upon all signatories to the agreement to put national interests first and make the living conditions of suffering Zimbabweans better.
“Political parties have to put national interests before political and partisan interests…We came we fought very viciously among ourselves, now President Mugabe, (MDC) President Tsvangirai, lets walk and talk and deliver on the promise…lets make sure we deliver and make the conditions of our people better conditions.”
H said the unity government has to make painful decisions to see the country restore its glory as a prosperous nation.
‘We are here because our country is going through a humanitarian, political and economic crisis of immense proportion. This government has to make painful decisions to drive this country forward,” he said.
Whether today’s power sharing signing for a government of national unity by Zimbabwe’s political parties is a dawn for a new era in reviving the country’s political and economic fortunes is yet to be seen. Zimbabweans who have suffered for long wait to see if “water and fire” can now mix.