Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Tsvangirai to be Sworn in as PM
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is expected to swear in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister today. The move is being hailed by many Zimbabweans as a major step towards resolving the country's economic meltdown, which has brought untold hardships to Zimbabwe citizens.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai takes the prime minister’s oath tomorrow as part of a power-sharing agreement with longtime President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabweans hope will bring help as they suffer through economic and humanitarian crises.
But quick solutions are unlikely given the enormity of Zimbabwe’s problems and the legacy of a long, bloody rivalry between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
Neighbouring leaders who pushed for the coalition say once they join in the unity government, the two men will overcome mutual mistrust and work together for the good of their country amid an economic meltdown and cholera epidemic that has killed 3,400 people.
History will judge whether that hope is naive or prescient.
Tsvangirai told reporters Tuesday he did not see himself as joining Mugabe, who remains president under the agreement originally reached in September.
“This is part of a transition arrangement that has been negotiated,” Tsvangirai said. “No one is joining anyone.” Mugabe, who turns 85 on February 21 and has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has so far treated the 56-year-old Tsvangirai as a junior partner at best, often not bothering to hide his contempt.
But Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round of the presidential election held almost a year ago, and withdrew from a June runoff only because of attacks on his supporters.
Tsvangirai’s party, the Movement for Democratic Change, also broke ZANU-PF’s lock on parliament for the first time since independence in those March 2008 elections.
The two men have clashed repeatedly since the decade-old MDC emerged as the most serious threat to the ruling regime since independence.
Tsvangirai has been beaten and jailed by Mugabe’s security forces.
In 2007, police attacked him after he held an opposition meeting the government had banned.
Images shown on news broadcasts around the world of his bruised and bloodied face came to symbolize the challenges his movement faced.
Once Tsvangirai is sworn in tomorrow and the rest of the Cabinet on Friday, the coalition agreement calls for the government to make its priority reviving an economy the opposition accuses Mugabe of destroying through corruption and mismanagement.
The world’s highest inflation rate has left millions of Zimbabweans dependent on international food aid to survive.
Even if the factions can put aside their own differences, they can’t do much without foreign help.
The world’s main donor, the United States, has made clear the money won’t flow if Mugabe tries to sideline Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai announced Tuesday that one of his most senior aides, Tendai Biti, would head the finance ministry.