Just What Kind Of Deal Is This?

An agreement has been reached between Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that allows the latter to join a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. The terms of the deal are . . . well . . . take a look:

ROBERT MUGABE, the Zimbabwean president, will have the power to dismiss his arch-opponent from a government of national unity even though the two men have agreed to join forces in an effort to rescue the country’s ruined economy.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who will become prime minister, could be sacked for incompetence under the terms of a deal that leaves the 84-year-old president firmly in control.

There were mixed reactions to the deal in Zimbabwe. Some feared Mugabe would use Tsvangirai, 56, to extend his power. Others felt that the opposition leader would neutralise the president. One opposition sympathiser said she was “hop-ing for the best but preparing for the worst”.

The story of one’s life if one follows politics in Zimbabwe. Why Tsvangirai agreed to this monstrously bad deal is anyone’s guess. The story indicates that the deal was necessary if there was to be any chance whatsoever of Zimbabwe getting foreign aid, but what is to stop the Mugabe government from getting rid of Tsvangirai once the aid is received? Additionally, what of British and American assurances–also noted in the story–that any government which had Mugabe as the President should be ineligible for aid?

Far from being any path towards national unity in Zimbabwe, this deal seems, instead, to be a not-so-subtle way for Mugabe to consolidate his authority. No responsible member of the international community should support it in any respect.