National Security Council bill sails through Parliament

Harare – The opposition dominated Zimbabwe Parliament on Tuesday approved a security law as a crucial component of a unity accord, giving joint control over the nation's security forces to the rival parties in a new government.

Both chambers approved the National Security Council bill, which will be headed by President Robert Mugabe but will also include opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is set to be sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had insisted on the law before agreeing to join the unity government, saying the new council was needed to prevent abuses by security forces.

"For so many years our country has been traumatised by the pain of state institutions," said Tendai Biti, a top MDC official set to become finance minister in the new government.

"The violence that took place last year in unfortunate. Those things that took place last year must not happen again," Biti said in parliament.

The MDC accuses Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of co-ordinating political attacks against its supporters after disputed elections last March. Amnesty International says more than 180 people died during the violence last year, mainly MDC supporters.

The rivals have agreed to a power-sharing deal that observers hope will end the tensions and help pull Zimbabwe from an economic collapse that has impoverished the once-vibrant nation. – AFP