Mugabe and rival sign power deal
Posted Monday, September 15 2008 at 20:03
Zimbabwe’s political rivals signed a historic power-sharing deal on Monday that many hope will be the first step to end the country’s decade old political and economic crisis.
The deal, brokered by Southern President Thabo Mbeki will see President Robert Mugabe ceding some of his executive powers for the first time in his 28 year-old rule.
Mr Mugabe, main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara who leads the small faction of the MDC, officially signed the agreement before a cheering crowd and leaders from neighbouring countries.
African leaders including, Tanzania’s Jikaya Kikwete, who is also the current African Union chairman, and King Mswati of Swaziland witnessed the signing.
The former warring parties immediately pledged to work together to halt Zimbabwe’s further slide into economic destruction.
“We have people who are going to work together who used to be enemies,” Prof Mutambara said. “This government has to make some very painful decisions to drive the country forward.
“Painful decisions, courageous decisions have to be taken. Leadership is about making unpopular decisions popular. We must deliver the promise of the agreement.”
Mr Tsvangirai also admitted it would be a challenge for them to work together when they have been enemies for a long time.
“People may ask, how we, who have been enemies for so long, will work together … Let us turn our fighting swords into ploughing shears,” he said quoting from Mr Mugabe’s inaugural speech as the first Prime Minister of independent Zimbabwe.
“I have signed this agreement because I believe it presents the best opportunity for us … The road ahead is long and will not be easy, it will need patience and virtue. I call on supporters of Zanu PF and the MDC to unite as Zimbabweans for the national good.”
Mr Mugabe, who was retained as the Head of State but had his powers to control government clipped extensively, said the agreement would only succeed if the leaders “walk the same route”.
“There are a lot of things in the agreement which I didn’t, and which I still don’t like. There are also a number of things in the agreement which he (Tsvangirai) didn’t like, and still does not like,” he said.
“We have to walk, and walk the same route. We have been walking the same route without knowing it, or not recognising each other. We may disagree on that route … but now there are areas we find ourselves in agreement”.
Under the deal, Mr Mugabe will retain his role as the head of state, while Mr Tsvangirai will take the newly created role of Prime Minister. Prof Mutambara will be one of Tsvangirai’s two deputies.
Meanwhile, Police had to fire warning shots to disperse thousands of supporters of the rival political parties who tried to enter the venue of the signing ceremony.
The clashes did not last long, as riot police who were on standby quickly moved in and separated the clashing groups.
This, noted analysts, was an indication that although there was agreement among political leaders on the deal, “there is still a lot of sensitisation they need to do to their supporters.