Last week, it was revealed that after long negotiations a tentative settlement agreement was reached between the government of President Mugabe and the opposition leader and probably winner of last March election, the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai.

The deal was negotiated with the help of South African President Mbeki.

Everyone is cautious about the deal (a similar “agreement” with then Opposition leader Joshua Nkomo in the 1980’s ended with the destruction of the opposition).

So far, the details won’t be released until Monday, but the details that have been leaked so far appear to be fair, and those involved, including both sides of the political spectrum, the public, NGO’s, other African countries, and the UK/European Union are cautiously optimistic.

 Mugabe will chair the cabinet, while Tsvangirai would take charge of a national security council of 31 cabinet ministers, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some reports are saying that Tsvangirai will become Prime Minister, with Mugabe remaining as President. But the devil is in the details, especially if the President can override decisions by the Congress and by the rest of the government.

Ah, but the real question is who will run things? And who will be in charge with the people with guns?

A report from Reuters (Africa) says that the MDC (opposition) wants to get control of the economy and the police.  This would enable them to persuade the European Union, US, Canada, UK and other countries to lift sanctions, and would encourage economic investment from the west (China and Iran already have invested in the country’s mining and economic sector).

On the other hand, Mugabe/ZANU-PF will keep control of the military.

This actually makes sense. The military is the core of Mugabe’s supporters, especially those who fought with him against the racist Smith Regime 26 years ago. The military, unlike those in other African countries, has had experience in other wars, both against the Ndebele post independence (which some call a “genocide”) and as African peacekeepers in various Central African wars.

Some of the military (and police and prison guards) have been involved in atrocities against civilians at various times, both against the Ndebele in the 1980’s and after the recent elections, and worry that they could be prosecuted (along with Mugabe) for crimes. Allowing Mugabe to stay in charge also allows Mugabe the illusion of power, since some reports say that it was the military who devised the ruse of the second election, essentially taking over running the country from Mugabe after the vote showed he lost the election (the careful “count” showed a tie…after a three week delay).

The UKTimes reports that Tsvangirai will ask the UK to send troops to  supervise the military and retrain them as professional (and non political) soldiers.  This might be a good compromise, allowing the military power and rebuilding them back to high standards, while restraining those who might try to use violence to regain power for themselves or others.

Once a stable government is in place, and security is improved, the well trained and well educated diaspora might start trickling back. The long neglected infrastructure will improve as the economy improves, and allowing citizens to use foreign currency (which was legalized last week) will take the edge off the worst of the inflation for ordinary citizens buying and selling.

But as NGO’s point out, the last harvest was poor, and many will stay hungry; all NGO’s were stopped from working after the first election, and only allowed last week to start working again…supervised by the government and hindered by a lot of red tape.

So there is cautious hope again in Zimbabwe. But the agreement is only a first step on the way back to rebuilding that beautiful country.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs about Zimbabwe at MakaipaBlog

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