I‘ve been so wrapped up in the American and Canadian elections these past few weeks, I’ve gotten a little slack in monitoring the news in the rest of the world.
Well, here’s the first step to remedying that: an update on the political situation in Zimbabwe.
A lot of things have changed since my last post about the country’s troubles – but at the same time, far too many things have stayed exactly the same.
Last month, outgoing South African president Thabo Mbeki managed to get both sides in Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party, and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – to agree to share power and bring an end to the country’s poisonous and violent electoral cycle.
Now, the MDC is arguing that Mugabe has given all the most powerful cabinet positions to ZANU-PF ministers, leaving the MDC representatives out in the bureaucratic cold.
Control of both the police and the military has been retained by Mugabe. Tsvangirai is threatening to pull out of the deal, and Mbeki (who is no longer President in South Africa) is rushing to Harare to try to salvage the situation.
This BBC article has a good summary, as well as an update on Zimbabwe’s unbelievably bleak economic status.
So what does all this mean?
Well, I’m sure there were plenty of MDC supporters who weren’t thrilled about the power-sharing deal to begin with. After all, Mugabe is a despot who’s wrecked the country’s economy and turned to violence and vote-rigging to control his sham elections – he has no business remaining in power.
But a legit power-sharing deal would have at least put an end to the violence. With Mugabe’s attempt to keep control over the military and the police, I’m sure the MDC are worried that even that small bit of progress is being lost.
Thabo Mbeki has taken a lot of heat over the years for his handling (or non-handling) of the Zimbabwean crisis. The power-sharing deal was a last chance at a positive legacy in the region – it should be interesting to see if he manages to salvage any of it.