Robert Mugabe's regime backs MDC decision

Harare – President Robert Mugabe's government on Friday welcomed the decision by rival Morgan Tsvangirai to join a unity government next month, saying the opposition was "shifting from external influence".

"We welcome it, we expected them to do that," Information Minister Paul Mangwana told AFP after the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said he would be sworn in as prime minister by February 11.

"We are happy that for the first time they have now recognised themselves as Zimbabweans and we are happy that they are shifting from external influence and have started to reason like Zimbabweans," Mangwana said.

Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC decided on Friday to enter a unity government with President Robert Mugabe‘s Zanu-PF, an opposition party official said.

The decision, made at a meeting of the Movement for Democratic Change’s executive, will put in motion a long stalled power-sharing deal seen as a way to tackle the deepening economic and humanitarian crisis.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to become prime minister.

With the local currency almost worthless and the world’s highest inflation rate, the government announced on Thursday it would let Zimbabweans use foreign currency. More than half the population is in need of food aid.

Regional leaders had piled pressure on both sides to implement the power-sharing deal they signed in September and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Friday his country was ready to help rebuild Zimbabwe once that happened.

"This stage is really critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country," Motlanthe told Reuters at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

The September 15 power-sharing agreement has been stalled by a dispute over control of key cabinet positions. Tsvangirai’s party feared being sidelined in a joint administration.