The End of the Beginning! Zimbawe’s New Government

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After years of staunch political rivalry between Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and
Arthur Mutambara (MDC-C), a long anticipated power-sharing deal has been
signed
. The historic deal was signed under the auspices of SADC (Southern
African Development Community) with Thabo Mbeki as the resolute middleman. The
agreement covered a whole spectrum of issues that will hopefully move the
country toward building a much more stable political and economic environment
for Zimbabwe’s advancement.

While some issues such as commitment to the
restoration of economic stability and growth, recognizing international
sanctions and measures, dedication to ensure the authenticity and sovereignty
of the new soon-to-be-written constitution, assurance of individual and
political freedoms, gender equality and human rights, intolerance of external
interference, and indiscrimination more easily attracted a consensus, others
such as the actual sharing of power, left constant obscurities.

Although clearly stated that Robert Mugabe will remain

President and Morgan Tsvangirai Prime Minister, their roles within the

executive branch overlap, especially around the question of who is accountable
to the other. Mugabe and/or Zanu PF will nominate two vice presidents and
Tsvangirai will also nominate two deputy prime ministers, one each from the
respective Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parties. The Council of
Ministers shall be composed of 31 ministers, with 15 nominated by Zanu PF, 13
by the MDC-T and 3 by the MDC-C Each of the three parties shall send a
representative to Parliament to sit, debate, and advocate on their party’s
behalf but shall be exempt of voting privileges.

According
to the agreement, the President shall…

. Chair Cabinet

. Exercise executive authority

. Subject to the constitution, proclaim and terminate
martial law

. Chairs national Security Council [commonly called the
Joint Operations Command- Joc, which includes army, police, and Secret
Services]

. After consultation with the vice-presidents, the prime
minister (PM) and deputy prime ministers, allocate ministerial portfolios in
accordance with the agreement

. In consultation with the PM, may dissolve parliament

. Be kept fully informed by the PM on the general conduct of
government business

. Be furnished with such information as he/she requests in
respect of any particular matter relating to the government, and may advise the
PM and the cabinet in this regard.

According
to the agreement, the Prime Minister shall…

. Chair the Council of ministers and serve as the deputy
chairperson of the Cabinet

. Exercises Executive Authority

. Oversee the formulation of government policies by the
cabinet

. Be a member of the National Security Council

. Report regularly to the President and Parliament

The efforts to ratify the deal are truly impressive,
however, the agreement is only the first step, the first stroke on the canvas
that now craves critical details to ensure the workability of this agreement.
First of all, the agreement allocated broad executive power to both the
President and the Prime Minister, increasing the possibility of an overlap or
even collision of responsibilities, thus causing a gridlock in the
implementation of legislative decision and executive programs. Only days after
the signing of the deal, there is already controversy between the two parties
over specific powers, responsibility and accountability. The future
constitution is expected to define these specific functions and limits of the
office of the President. One can only hope that the input of diverse groups of
political and civil society as well as the lengthy constitutional ratification
process will ensure that prospect of immense political power is controlled.

Additionally, the decision to sign this agreement is to a
large extent predicated on the belief that Tsvangirai, due to his western
support, can salvage Zimbabwe’s economy. The prime minister elect has stated
categorically that his party made no such promises; however, the myth somehow alleges
that the west will not allocate or remove sanctions on Zimbabwe unless Morgan
Tsvangirai is the man in charge. Yes, Britain and other western states have
made comments to this effect, but that is no guarantee. What if Tsvangirai can
not scale back Zimbabwe’s 2,000,000% inflation, or find funding for the
International community? Would he be neglected?

On a broader level, it is possible to disregard the
similarity between Zimbabwe and Kenya and their recent post election dispute
and new coalition governments? Some analysts suggest that that the current
developments in the two nations suggest an emerging trend, a precedent
harnessing the idea that opposition parties can be partnered in shared
governance if they clamor loud enough or threaten the security or stability of
the state. As much as the election outcomes of a number of African countries
can be disputed on the basis of their authenticity and fairness, there is a
danger of losing parties accusing their winning counterparts of rigging
elections, when in fact the elections were free and fair or at least not as
contrived as portrayed. The result leaves precarious consequences for states
such as Liberia, Ghana, and even South Africa which will soon undertake elections.
But perhaps the power sharing deals in Kenya and Zimbabwe tell us something
about African democracy. How far does the voice of the people go? What do the
people say about these elite deals? Does the winner-take-all system work for
Africa, especially when other men on another continent demarcated lands and
shoved these tribes together? Has it become a matter of complaint now in order
to receive power in government? As AFJN, we explore these questions and witness
what will hopefully be a gradual transition from a more liberation centered
leadership to one that displays elements of a functioning democracy and
politics as well as cooperation in the interest of all Zimbabweans.

Gbenimah B. Slopadoe II

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