Is the balance shifting in Zimbabwe?
This week’s reopening of Zimbabwe’s parliament had been seen by many as a show of defiance by President Robert Mugabe against an opposition that has so far rejected terms of a power-sharing deal that appear more acceptable to the veteran leader and to at least some of his regional counterparts.
But it may not have gone quite to plan.
The election of the parliamentary speaker chosen by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came in spite of efforts by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF to bring in the candidate of the breakaway MDC faction. Members of that faction appear to have sided with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai rather than their own party leadership.
Then Mugabe faced unprecedented boos and jeers as he delivered his speech at the reopening of parliament, where ZANU-PF has lost its majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe nonetheless said he was optimistic that a power-sharing deal would be reached.
Is there a shift in the balance of power in Zimbabwe? What might it all mean for talks and for chances of an agreement that could help to revive the stricken country?