Crunch time for Zimbabwe

January 27, 2009

Southern African leaders have decided at a summit that Zimbabwe should form a unity government next month but the opposition said it was disappointed with the outcome, raising doubts over chances for ending the crisis.

The 15-nation SADC grouping said after the meeting in South Africa – its fifth attempt to secure a deal on forming a unity government – it had agreed that opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as prime minister by Feb. 11.

All parties agreed control of the hotly disputed Home Affairs Ministry, which has been a major obstacle to a final agreement, should be divided between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai’s MDC for six months, said South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

But the MDC quickly issued a statement after the SADC communique was read out, making clear its disappointment and raising the possibility that deadlock would drag on as Zimbabweans face growing economic hardship. The MDC said its national council would meet this weekend to define its position on the summit.

SADC said ministers would be sworn in on Feb. 13, which would “conclude the process of the formation of the inclusive government”. Allocation of ministries would be reviewed six months after the inauguration of the government, it added.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, and his ZANU-PF party have urged the opposition to join a unity government but say they will not hesitate to form one without them.

As the dispute drags on, prices are doubling every day. Food and fuel are in short supply and the local currency has been rendered virtually worthless. The death toll from a cholera epidemic has neared 2,900.

Should Tsvangirai now do as the southern African leaders say even if he has not got what he wanted? Should Mugabe go it alone to form a government if the opposition does not join now? What do you think?


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The solution for Zimababwe is not a unity government , but fresh elections. The true is that Mugabe has personalized Zimbabwe too much at the expense of suffering Zimbabweans.

Most African Leaders fear Mr Mugabe who is the major problem the crisis in that country.

It is only late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa and probably Bostwana President Ian Khama who have openly condemed mr Mugabe.

Mugabe should just retire honourably and pave way for a new Zimbabwe.

Posted by Gershom Mumba | Report as abusive

Mugabe is winning the battle. SADC must bow out and admit defeat as its quite apparent that they have not considered the MDC position well.
I will be surprised if MDC do not reject the agreement.
Mugabe is just time wasting.
It should be MDC rejecting Zanu PF as MDC have the mandate of the people to form a government not Zanu PF rejecting MDC. Mugabe has no authority to Preside or form a government

Posted by chas | Report as abusive

The problem with the Zimbabwean situation is that, unfortuntely most of the members who sit on the SADC Committee are former revolutionaries themselves who openly and secretly support what Mugabe has done. Therefore they can not put pressure on him to step down. Mugabe has personalized Zimbabwe and has absolutely no regard for the man on the ground. It is time that he steps down and SADC needs to force him out!

Posted by Petra | Report as abusive

Mugabe says Tsvangirai is a puppet of the West, now he wants him to be HIS puppet!

It is a scandal. Mugabe has no mandate and should be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity and genocide, but it will not happen, as his cronies are still very busy looting the country of diamonds and everything else these thieves and murderers can steal.

Only when there is absolutely nothing left will they give the MDC a real voice in Government, because by that time they will have stashed millions outside Zimbabwe and they do not care what happens to the rest of the people or the country.

And SADC is helping them do it! These gutless “leaders” are just a bunch of sheep effortlessly moved around by sly old Mugabe and too dumb to even see how stupid they look to the rest of the world!

They attend summits in big flashy cars, have lavish foods, and talk about it! What a shame they, or their families, cannot exchange places with starving cholera victims for a day. They would then rapidly change their tune!

Posted by limnothrissa | Report as abusive

Mugabe taneta-Please SADC leaders work up and be sincere. SA is benefiting from our skills and increased market for their products while Zimbabwean companies are folding. So SA will not want the opposition be in GVT as they have the capability to revive Zim industry which will make Zim less dependent on SA imports.

Posted by Teesanic | Report as abusive

Its a pity that Mr. Mugabe has so many loyalist who appears so much brain washed. SADC should have focussed on ensuring Mr. Mugabe’s safety after leaving than trying to give him a mandate he was he failed to get from the electrorate.

Shame on the SADC and shame on Mugabe. MDC must try some other alternatives as talks will not get us anywhere while we continue to die and thirty

Posted by mumu | Report as abusive

it’s time mdc join mugabe ,though its a wrong thing to do under normal circumstances.this for the sake of all zimbabweans.power is great and tsvangirayi is eager to taste it as well,but his time seems to be running out and so is mugabe who has tasted it and no longer want to leave because it’s sweet.tsvangirayi’s two five-year terms as president of mdc is nearing,with all the struggles he made he cannot be seen relinguishing his presidential post[power is sweet].that’s how we creating another mugabe in tsvangirayi.

Posted by pf zapu | Report as abusive

Zanu and SADC are crazy if they think that we the people of Zimbabwe will accept such an agreement.SADC has failed us , how can a Ministry be shared, they should just create the National Security Ministry as sugestd by the MDC.


Posted by Tican | Report as abusive

…in the meantime almost 3000 people have died of cholera and no one from the international community is crying foul loudly. The disease has killed more than twice the number of those killed by Israel in Gaza and Mugabe and his chronies are responsible for the total collapse of the health system in Zimbabwe

Posted by SaKudzi | Report as abusive

Mugabe must step down,to give others chance,he failed to build Zimbabwe long back and this makes the neibouring countries to suffer because of this Zimbabwean,even the Zimbabweans are suffering,they are dying and Mugabe can’t see those things.Mugabe must go.People are suffering,SADC cant you see those things.MUGABE GO, YOU ARE DANGROUS.And he has killed many people.

Posted by Botho | Report as abusive

MDC should simply reject the deal

Posted by Svosve | Report as abusive

For me the issue is now beyond power sharing. The real deal is now a conflict between the Russian-Chinese Alliance Vs. Western interest. Mugabe and Mbeki, the two Communists are merely milking the situation for their handlers.

Western countries will not give up the fight and so is Robert Mugabe. Our only hope is that Zuma gets in power and the COSATU lobby works out the magic.

Posted by Musonza | Report as abusive

First we congratulate the wise decision of SADC Committee. This recent deal indicates that some african leaders become mature and do not mechanically follow the will and desire of the West.
We really believe that in the name of Zimbabwean interet Tsvangirai must accept the deal. Remember this: Zimbabwean life experiences show that it is more useful to be a puppet of the Zimbabwean people than a puppet of the West. For this reason Tsvangirai must change his wrong thinking, his distorsed beliefs and antipatriotic actions. This behavioral change will help Tsvangirai move from being a puppet of the West to a puppet of the will of Zimbabwean people by participating in this new government of national unity.

Posted by Pay | Report as abusive

Mugabe is too old to negotiate with, instead he should be left to die in peace and leave Zim to people with the heart for others. Time shall tell, believe it for not. Unfortunately for now people will continue dying of cholera and hunger at the ignorancy of Thabo Mbeki and Mothlante.

Posted by Muchinda | Report as abusive

Can Mr. Tsvangirayi tell us what him and his part have to offer to solve the Zimbabwean economic crisis? Also I am totally disappointed with Mr. Tsvangirayi for the following reason: I was listening to his speach which he read on the day that he signed the memorundum of understanding to form a Unity Govt. He said something like this; “We want schools to re-open. We want hospitals to work again, we want water back in our houses, we want electricity back, we want food aid to flow in which is being shut out by the current govt. My question to him in relation to that comment which was met with a resounding approval from the audience is this: “Did we not have all those things in place when he formed his party in 1999? Were these your grievences when you formed your party, Mr. Premier disginate? Did we not have all those things working properly?

Posted by Masimba Mazviyanga | Report as abusive

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands worldwide and in Africa who helped fight and beat Apartheid in South Africa and also the many who died during the struggle, today we see that out of one monster we created another. I am ashamed to be connected in anyway with my Government of South Africa. You disgust me. What you did today was pathetic and cowardly. I urge the MDC not to accept this deal as it is rotten to the core like our leaders. It would appear that it is now time to start a new struggle even here within SA. I would ask the rest of the World to punish SA and others in SADC who have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to one of the most dispicable monsters to have ever walked Southern Africa – Mugabe. Boycott everything from now on to do with or associated with these SADC cowards. We the people must unite and show our anger and outrage. We will help you Zimbabweans rid your land of this evil snake and his followers. To our so called leaders, your day will come also, we will not forget. For the first time in my life I am ashamed to be called a South African.

Posted by Bennie | Report as abusive

This is testimony to the world what Africa is made of. We know a few African states in SADC will be holding their elections this year and they obviously are just ‘preachers’ of democracy but they don’t care about human life at all. My question to these so called leaders is ‘

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive

Tsvangirai agreed to sign earlier on at a costlty funfare on 19 September 2008, why should he waste people’s valuable time now.He must be seen to be serious instead of making headlines for wrong cause.Zimbabwe deserves a government now, Zimbabwe deserves real leaders not actors and Tsvangirai should choose between joining government or partnering Muwenga at Studio 263 now.

Posted by JOHN CHIVIES | Report as abusive

Mugabe, and his supporters, must be forced out immediately.
He should be standing trial at the Haque. Please all write to US White House, UN et al to stop this man from
killing more of the nicest people in the world….people who have withstood stoically going from the breadbasket of Africa to the poorest country in 25 short years..they have had no choices and we need to be their voice.

Posted by Melanie Milliner | Report as abusive

The power sharing deal was ill advised and MDC must now beat the bullet and walk away. MDC were foolish to have entered the negotiations and, sadly, will be foolish enough to join the GNU even with Mugabe making it clear he is in total control.

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

The ambivalent attitude of Tsvangirai clearly shows that he is a puppet of the West. In other words, Tsvangirai is running for the interest of the West and for this he does not care about Zimbabwean people. Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular do not need no more this kind of leader: instrument of the West. It is important to mention that the age of the African Fighter President Mugabe does not cause problem. Africa is proud of the President Mugabe who fights always for Zimbabwean interest and African freedom. Tsvangirai is only thirsty for pouvoir. For what?

Posted by Pay | Report as abusive

Sadc leaders are a group of gangasters who a proping up an illegal regime under the firm control of a despot.
Tsvangirai should pull out of these talks and let Mugabe go ahead and form a “government”on his own.The Mugabe regime will collapse as Zimbabweans take matters into their own hands and fight for survival.The MDC risks being “tainted” with the broad brush of curruption and failure that has been the hallmark of Mugabes and Zanu(PF) 29 years in power if they proceed with this ill conceived GNU.Tsvangirai should also STOP giving Mutambara any attention!..he is a little Mugabe.

Posted by VaShamu | Report as abusive

I think Limnothrissa has made a good very good observation.
Once politicians begin in the negotiation process, they seeingly become oblivious to the situation outside of the conference centre.

Every black suit is operating in their own self-interest while very little care is being given to those below them.

Quiet diplomacy has dragged on for the past decade with nothing to show for it but a palimpsest of unity which has since been reneged upon. If this latest round of squabbling proves futile, perhaps something more drastic is needed~

Posted by William | Report as abusive

It does not surprise anyone that Mr. Mugabe is rewarded time and time again for being the obstacle to peace and stability. Sharing a ministerial portfolio means more trouble as controlling and managing it will bring confrontation than sound management.
Where on earth an interior ministry is divided in two and who the head of the police will be prone to listen to if it is not his true creator.
As the opposition is now prepared to work in this muddy water, it should be prepared to surprises and God knows what will happen to its members in the days to come. Morgan should be careful in this trap as his own life is at steak. Ultimately I can only wish them good luck and look forward to the reconstruction and recovery of Zimbabwe for the welfare of its people.

Posted by Philippe Mandangi | Report as abusive

Congratulations Stella. This is a far more balanced article than the propaganda that other bloggers constantly posted here. That was why I recently said that Africans should be writing the African blog and not non-Africans with an agenda in Zimbabwe.

It is obvious that both parties have to compromise before a unity government can be formed. The MDC should accept the recommendations of the SADC if it is an independent political party. However, I am afraid that the decsion will be made by the MDC’s Western financiers and not Tsvangirai. That would be a tragedy for Zimbabwe.

Another important consideration is that the unity government will be useless if Tsvangirai cannot persuae its Western allies to lift the economic sanctions that are devastating the country.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

It isn’t crunch time now any more than last year , the year before etc.

Mugabe and his supporters will always be in power, so accept it. Many people like Vincent accept this as a way of life.

The west should stay out, economic sanctions should be welcomed by Vincent and his supporters because apparently they are western and he hates everything western so this should be positive to him.

Regarding only Africans being the only ones who should comment on African issues is very narrow.

I’m indiginous to NA so should only indiginous NA be allowed to comment and govern NA. If so, what happens to the US President and all the Africans who have lived there for decades or more?

To think we should be isolated and not welcome a society which welcomes and works with people from different countries and backgrounds would be devastating.

Posted by buffalojump | Report as abusive

It is astonishing, depressing, bizarre, grotesque and appalling that Mugabe is still terrorising his own country simply by still clinging vainly to power.

Having lost all powers of logical reasoning or even the facility to be influenced by his own conscience, Mugabe straddles Zimbabwe without a care in the world for all the ills and evil he has inflicted on his own people.

The poges of history, Mr Mugabe, have already been written down and on those pages honest, objective people who have testified to the horrors and terrors of you morally bankrupt reign of chaos and mendacity.

The good people of the world pray that you will do a St Paul’s road to Damascus conversion, and finally see the folly and abject error of your dark and power-grabbing ways.

People have a right to be safe, fed and happy again. The deserve better than what Mugabe has given them!

But Mr Mugabe is deaf?

Posted by TheTruthIs… | Report as abusive

no ways mugabe should not form a government as he did not WIN…the March 2008 elections as we are all bassed on on those DEMOCRACY HEED….!!!

Posted by taderera | Report as abusive

The atricle about South Africa helping to rebuild Zimbabwe touches the core of the real dilemma in Southern Africa. Let’s all now acknowledge that these should never have been two separate countries in the first place, and the fact that they are goes back to the British in their typically underway way swindling Lobengula our of his land because of their own commercial greed.

Let’s merge the two countries, under one government, exactly like two companies merge in the real world. Let’s ask the Zimbabwean people if they would like to be part of South Africa, and go from there.

Africa disection at the hands of a bunch of European megalomaniacs in 1888 into 47 sub-Sahara countries was all done for the wrong reasons and has left us with too many small countries with tin pot governments at huge expense and little value. What we need in Africa is fewer bigger countries where there is less chance of thugs like Mugabe ever coming to power in the first place – a situation, by the way, that again was engineered by the British.

Posted by Michael Clements | Report as abusive

The first thing I would say is that this deal will never work. It is nothing more that another half hearted attempt by SADC to resolve a crisis which they are to a large extent to blame. Abductions, beatings, total disregard for the rule of law, economic decisions based political expediency are the order of the day in Zimbabwe and will remain so. I cannot see a meeting of the minds between the MDC and Zanu. Mugabe quite frankly is clincally insane and his interest lies only in trying to salvage something of his image for the sake of posterity. Something along the lines of “hundreds of thousands of people died, the country is economically ruined and politically isolated….but I, with my 7 degrees, was right”. Even if he is right about all those fantastical claims floating around that paranoid mind, I don’t think even the sheepish and die hard zanu pf loyalists could argue that it would be nothing more than a pyrric victory for him. A case of ego massaging above the welfare of his people. Well done and congratulations on a hollow victory!

I think everyone agrees that Zimababwe is now a failed state. Unfortunately the next few months will involved more of the same old political wrangling and banana republic policies as opposed to tackling the mountain of problems the country is facing. The power sharing “government” will collapse, elections will be called which I can guarantee Mugabe will not lose again.

So where does that leave Zimbabwe? The answer goes back to the root problem here of who is to blame for this mess. To my mind the people of Zimbabwe, however brutalised by this regieme, need to stand up and be counted. They have let this little man with dubious credientals, morph into the monster that he is today. As citizens of Zimbabwe it was, and indeed remains your duty to take back your country for your own sake and the sake of your children. Mugabe is not Zimbabwean he is the Anti-Zimbabwean. The West will not help you and African countries/regional groupings are impotent in the matter. I would however give a word of caution here. The now accepted African policy of undermining the democratic will of the people by advocating the formation of power sharing governments can only result in the clubbing together of despotic leaders propping each other up. Democracy is dying in Africa. Act fast before its too late.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive