Zimbabwe’s New Deal
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 - 12:00pm
Both factions of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change and representatives of civil society say the power-sharing agreement signed with President Robert Mugabe is flawed, but stressed that it provides a historic opening of Zimbabwe's political space. Freedom House and the National Democratic Institute hosted an event September 16 that featured: George Sibotshiwe, of the MDC Morgan Tsvangirai faction; Romualdo Mavedzenge, of the MDC Arthur Mutambara faction; Deprose Muchena, of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and Takura Zhangazha, of the Media Institute of Southern Africa. The speakers addressed some 50 people in Washington via videoconference from Johannesburg. The party officials spoke amid negotiations with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party over which ministries they will control in the new government. Sibotshiwe said his party's priorities are to stabilize Zimbabwe's ailing economy and to 'dismantle the instruments of dictatorship' set up during Mugabe's 28 years in power. Mavedzenge addressed concerns that Mugabe would try to splinter the MDC further by saying that both factions negotiated the deal as a whole and would pursue a common agenda. Muchena noted that while the agreement does not meet the full expectations of the Zimbabwean people, who gave the MDC a historic majority in parliament in March, it is an important first step that demonstrates ZANU-PF’s crisis of legitimacy at home and abroad. Zhangazha cautioned that for the power-sharing agreement to provide genuine political change, the state must relinquish control over the media, which is not clearly stated in the agreement. The event was moderated by Freedom House Deputy Executive Director Thomas O. Melia and NDI Regional Director for Southern and East Africa Susan Page.