Tsvangirai-Mugabe detente cautiously welcomed in Zimbabwe

Harare – Zimbabwean Premier Morgan Tsvangirai's agreement to end his boycott of the country's unity government was welcomed in the country Friday, where many had feared a return to violence and economic chaos.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been boycotting cabinet meetings with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF for three weeks, arguing that Zanu-PF was ‘dishonest and unreliable’ as a partner.

‘It’s good that he (Tsvangirai) is back. Things are not going well, life is very hard and we need him to sort the government out,’ Nebson Cholo, a newspaper vendor in Harare, said.

At a summit in Mozambique Thursday, a group of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders convinced Tsvangirai to resume working with Mugabe.

The deal hammered out by the SADC leaders gives Zanu-PF and the MDC 15 days to resolve the issues that have paralysed their eight- month transitional government and 30 days to implement the solutions, the MDC said.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi said the party was hopeful of a resolution this time because: ‘Unlike in the past, there is a time limit on when the negotiations are supposed to be finished.’

The MDC accuses Zanu-PF of refusing to share power equitably and of dragging its heels on the implementation of governance and rights reforms.

Among the MDC’s key gripes are Mugabe’s naming of his cronies to the posts of attorney general and central bank governor and his refusal to swear in the MDC’s choice for deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett.

Tsvangirai also accuses Mugabe of allowing the police and security agents to harass MDC members.

Mugabe, on the other hand, accuses Tsvangirai of failing to use his international appeal to obtain the lifting of sanctions imposed on Mugabe and other senior Zanu-PF members in 2002 by the West.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma will monitor the new negotiations in Zimbabwe and report back to SADC after two weeks.

‘I just hope that Morgan is going to get something out of this from Mugabe this time,’ Brian Mangwende, a Zimbabwean businessman, said. ‘Too often he makes concessions, Mugabe doesn’t reciprocate and then Morgan is the loser.’