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Sunday 14 September 2008

Zimbabwe: the end is nigh

The signing of the deal between Mugabe/Mbeki/Tsvangari is opaque. But as soon as I began reading about behind-the-scenes deals for the generals who have been running Mugabe for months I began to think: this is it, it's almost over, they're negotiating an exit strategy.

And the key driver behind this? The collapsing economy.

If you read/watch Zim at all you soon learn that there are always more factors at play than you'd thought of. Devil/detail. But let's be hopeful.

Chris O'Neal says 'Mugabe is now poised to sign his own political death warrant'. His big point about the deal: "Mugabe will not be without power, but he may be reduced to obstructing more than governing.":
Crucially, the two MDC factions have a majority of one in both bodies [council of ministers /cabinet], as well as control of parliament, allowing the party to out-vote Mugabe and set policy. That will allow the MDC to dismantle the apparatus of repression which helped keep Mugabe in power long after his popularity crumbled. The government will be able to abolish legislation banning newspapers, locking up journalists and imposing severe restrictions on freedom of speech.

Mugabe is expected to keep his hands on the military through a Zanu-PF defence minister, which the MDC can live with because it will help reassure the generals. Tsvangirai has pressed hard for control of the police, which is crucial if he hopes to assure people that they can vote as they wish in future elections. Both sides are pressing to run the justice ministry, but that may be one that Tsvangirai loses because of fears within Zanu-PF that if he controls the police and the justice system the MDC could hold the guilty to account.

Crucially, the MDC is likely to get the finance portfolio because foreign donors will not want to hand money over to a Zanu-PF minister. It is the prospect of that money that unlocked the prospect of agreement. Without power for Tsvangirai there will be no foreign aid, and without hard currency Mugabe had no means of turning around an imploding economy.
Here's the key, as the economy collapses:
Western governments have said they want to wait and see if Tsvangirai is really wielding power, fearing that he may have been duped into a deal that allows Mugabe to outmanoeuvre him.
More from David Coltart.
This is undoubtedly historic but we still have a long and treacherous road to travel. Even had we in the combined MDC obtained total control the challenges are immense. The grave humanitarian and economic crises are enough to test any Government. The new Cabinet that will have to address these challenges is composed of protagonists – virtually all of the Cabinet Ministers to be appointed by the MDC T and M have at some stage in the last 9 years been brutalized on the instructions of those they will now have to work with. Zimbabwe remains highly polarised and it will take statesmanship on all sides to make this work.

But work this must. Zimbabwe is a great country with a tremendous future and it can and will get through to a new dawn of freedom.
And here's another view, civic society in Zim is strong. And undiminished - note; kept strong by the web - still discussing Transitional justice options for Zimbabwe.
The organizations present at the workshop, having agreed on these principles also set non-negotiable minimum demands for a transitional justice process. The civil society’s minimum demands include no amnesty for crimes against humanity, torture, rape and other sexual crimes, and economic crimes such as corruption; no extinguishing of civil claims against the perpetrators or the state; comprehensive reparations for victims of human rights violations; no-one should hold an official office who has been responsible for gross human rights violations and corruption; a credible and independent truth seeking inquiry into the conflicts of the past which holds perpetrators to account and which provides victims the opportunity to tell their story; independent monitoring and reform of the operations and structures of the police, army, paramilitary, security coordination, administration of justice, food distribution and other organs of state involved in the implementation of the transition.
We wait to see whether the deal is as positive as it seems. Whether in any way the guilty will be held to account in Zim. Whether the hope is correct. But what is very, very clear is that if the world has chosen to forget and ignore - as they have in so many other countries - none of this would have happened.

And there's your take-away.

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