Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mugabe appointments demonstrate lack of regard for coalition partner

How many times must Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, violate common decency before African leaders force him to resign? The latest outrage Saturday concerned Mugabe's decision to take control of the ministries of defense, home affairs and finance, even though his ZANU-PF party is supposed to be in the midst of negotiating the allocation of those ministries with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe simply does not want to give up any power, as the improprieties and violence around the election amply demonstrated. The coalition government negotiated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki -- in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was made prime minister -- was modeled after the power-sharing coalition put together when Kenya began to unravel following the disputed 2007 presidential election in that former African economic powerhouse. But Mugabe's reluctance to cooperate with the MDC, supposedly based in large part on personal dislike for Tsvangirai, makes the Kenya model unsuitable for Zimbabwe. Mbeki plans to return to Zimbabwe on Monday to reopen talks, according to the Reuters international news service. But what can Mbeki accomplish in the current climate, when the MDC has no reason to trust Mugabe and considerable reason not to. Mugabe's appointments were made public Saturday in a public notice that showed that the ministries of defense, home affairs and finance were allocated to ZANU-PF. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the Tsvangirai's party had not agreed to such an allocation. "This is ZANU-PF's arrogant wish list that puts the whole deal into jeopardy. It is unilateral, contemptuous and outrageous," he said. "The MDC totally and absolutely rejects this nonsense. ZANU-PF is taking people for a ride and there is a price for that."

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