Violence threatens Zimbabwe peace deal

HARARE – Berison Bvirivindi, a street vendor, thought the peace deal signed by Zimbabwe's leaders last week meant it was safe to wear a T-shirt showing support for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

 He ended up in hospital.

Still in severe pain from his injuries, Bvirivindi said he had been seized at his stall in Harare’s Road Port bus station by a gang from Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF youth militia – the same organisation which terrorised Zimbabweans earlier this year to such an extent that the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, quit the second round of a presidential election he was leading to spare his followers further violence.

"They told me that they were going to continue attacking MDC supporters until Robert Mugabe tells them to stop and acknowledge Morgan Tsvangirai’s role as prime minister," Bvirivindi said in his hospital bed.

But the 84-year-old president has said no such thing in public since he signed last Monday’s accord, and talks this weekend on how cabinet jobs should be shared out were deadlocked.

Zimbabwe and the international community are waiting to see whether Mugabe meant what he said when he agreed to yield some of his power for the first time in his 28-year rule.

Tsvangirai’s trump card is that foreign donors will not stump up the money the country desperately needs unless he is seen to be in charge on a day-to-day basis, as the peace deal provides.

The world has never seen such rampant inflation – even the government admits to 11-million percent a year, independent economists estimate the actual rate is 40-million percent.

Last month the central bank cut 10 zeros off the currency, so that ZIM$10-billion became ZIM$1.

But the new dollar has already fallen by nine-tenths against the US dollar.