The prospect of the long-standing foes governing together briefly raised hopes that the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans might at last become less wretched. But following weeks of bickering, the deal is all but dead. Mr Mugabe says he will name a new cabinet regardless of the continuing lack of agreement. The MDC says that it will not participate unless it gets its fair share of seats.
The main issue is control of the interior ministry, which controls the police. Mediators have proposed sharing the ministry between the MDC and Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, but the MDC has rejected that. Having won most votes in March’s election the opposition controls a majority in the National Assembly for the first time since independence. Under the power-sharing deal, Mr Tsvangirai’s party is supposed to control 13 ministries and a small MDC splinter led by Arthur Mutambara was assigned three. ZANU-PF is allocated 15. Mr Tsvangirai’s group insists on getting the interior ministry because Mr Mugabe’s party is to keep the army and intelligence services.
In addition, the composition of the new National Security Council remains unresolved, and a constitutional amendment needed to create the new job of prime minister, which is to go to Mr Tsvangirai, has not been approved. Mr Tsvangirai questions Mr Mugabe’s good faith. The opposition, for example, was not informed when the text of the power-sharing deal was tampered with between the end of negotiations and the signing ceremony.
South Africa helped the MDC on November 20th by saying that it will withhold aid for Zimbabwe until a new representative government is in place. It is the first punitive measure against Mr Mugabe’s regime by a regional power to enforce the power-sharing agreement.
The MDC says it remains committed to the agreement. It has little choice. If it gives in without winning a fair share of power, it will be part of a government firmly under the thumb of Mr Mugabe. If it stands its ground, the deal could unravel completely, condemning Zimbabwe to further collapse. The UN World Food Programme reckons that 5m people face starvation early next year. With the public-health system in tatters, cholera is spreading. And without a political breakthrough, there will be no foreign rescue. The Economist