Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sharing Power, Sharing The Blame

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has finally been sworn in as Zimbabwe's Prime Minister. I say finally because today's ceremony follows months of wrangling between his MDC party, and the Zanu-PF regime of President Robert Mugabe, following the outcome of last year's hotly disputed election. The final major sticking point, namely which of the parties would control the police force, was eventually settled with an agreement that a minister from each party would share that responsibility, a messy deal that's unsatisfactory to say the least.

Mr Tsvangirai, probably rightly, no doubt thinks that this deal is the best he can get, and it's way past time to stop talking and start working. With Zimbabwe facing well-documented economic and health crises, and desperately in need of new leadership, Mr Tsvangirai perhaps reasons that offering whatever leadership he and his ministers can in the areas they're being allowed to run is better than nothing.

But therein lies the problem. With Zanu PF still maintaining some kind of hold over Zimbabwe's security apparatus, it's not clear exactly how much leadership the MDC ministers will really be allowed to offer. After all, the new MDC finance minister was until recently considered by the Zanu PF regime as being one of the country's most dangerous subversives, and only had charges of treason against him dropped last week. And besides, even if the new MDC ministers in the coalition administration really are allowed to govern in a meaningful way, unhindered by Mugabe's goons, the problems faced by Zimbabwe are so severe they're surely impossible to solve in the near future. No matter how hard he tries, Morgan Tsvangirai may soon find himself sharing the blame for those problems with Robert Mugabe, simply because he's now in power.

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