Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Risks in Zim from Mbeki's resignation

from the NYTimes

....Mr. Tsvangirai, 56, and Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, 84, are at an impasse in the first crucial test of Mr. Mugabe’s willingness to relinquish some of the complete control he has exercised during 28 years in power. Mr. Mugabe did not enter negotiations until July, after African election monitors concluded that a June runoff was not free or fair and African leaders insisted on talks. He said at the signing ceremony for the agreement that he was committed to it.

When Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai met on Thursday, Mr. Tsvangirai said, he proposed that their parties, the governing ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, equally divide the most critical ministries, with, for example, Mr. Mugabe’s party retaining the army and the opposition taking the police. Given the broken economy, Mr. Tsvangirai said he believed that the opposition should pick the head of the Finance Ministry, but Mr. Mugabe did not agree.

“They wanted everything, all the key ministries,” Mr. Tsvangirai said.

There are signs that Mr. Mugabe, known as a canny, ruthless survivor of challenges to his authority, may be resisting genuine power-sharing. The question is whether he is still guided by the slogan he used during this year’s disputed election, still visible on posters: “This is the final battle for total control.”

Mr. Mugabe left Harare on Friday to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York with an entourage that included his wife and son, but not Mr. Tsvangirai, who is supposed to become his partner in governing. Mr. Tsvangirai acknowledged that the authorities had yet to provide him with a passport some three months after he ran out of pages for new visa stamps, though he hopes they will soon....

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