Tsvangirai hopes for democracy

Harare – Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is due to become prime minister on Wednesday, acknowledged the high levels of concern about his decision to share power with President Robert Mugabe.

"The road ahead is long but we believe we must and can succeed while learning from our sad past which has devastated our people," he said.

"The best we can do is that democracy, peace and prosperity is achieved in our life time," the former trade union leader said a day before his swearing-in in Harare.

The MDC leader was speaking to reporters after announcing his choices to fill his party’s share of 13 seats in a 31-ministry cabinet. Apart from finance and health, which went to the MDC, Zanu-PF has retained most of the important portfolios.

Tsvangirai named MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, a lawyer by training, as finance minister.

Biti had initially opposed joining a government that is heavily skewed in Zanu-PF’s favour. In the end, the party fell in behind Tsvangirai’s decision to give the flawed arrangement a go, citing the need to begin rebuilding the country.

The International Federation of Red Cross Societies said on Tuesday that Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak was past the "worst-case scenario" as the number of infection cases inched towards the 70 000 mark.

At least 3 391 people have died of cholera as of February 7. More than seven million Zimbabweans are also in need of food aid.

While rights activists are sceptical about Mugabe’s commitment to real change, aid agencies are hoping the new government will attract increased funding.

British-based anti-poverty agency Oxfam urged donors that were adopting a wait-and-see approach to the new government to find "innovative ways to channel emergency resources to people who urgently need help". – Sapa-dpa

– SAPA