Zimbabwe: Power-sharing deal hailed
Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008

Herald Reporters
September 13, 2008
The Herald

Ordinary Zimbabweans, political parties, analysts, church leaders, captains of industry, trade unions, the United Nations and the European Union have hailed the signing of a power-sharing deal by Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations.

They urged the political parties to implement what has been agreed upon so that ordinary Zimbabweans benefit from the deal.

The three principals to the inter-party talks sealed the deal on Thursday night under the facilitation of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The principals are President Mugabe of Zanu-PF, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC president Arthur Mutambara.

Immediate-past leader of the Heads of Christian Denominations Bishop Trevor Manhanga said the signing of the deal was a positive development adding that was what the church has always been praying for.

"As church leaders we are very happy and we regard the signing of the deal as an answer to our prayers.

"We hope that the entire nation will support it," said Bishop Manhanga, who two years ago led a team of church leaders to meet President Mugabe at State House in their bid to find a lasting solution to the country's political and economic challenges.

He said the nation should not be deterred by some outside forces that might try to rubbish it, saying the country should remain focused.

"Other people might not be happy with the deal and we should be prepared for that, especially outsiders. This is a deal by Africans, for Africans, even if some outsiders are sceptical, we must give it our support," he said.

Former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce leader Mrs Mara Hativagone said the business community was grateful over the signing of the power-sharing deal.

"We are very ecstatic. A huge milestone has been moved and we are hopeful that the economy will improve in a big way. We feel very relieved because industry was now on its knees. The signing of the deal is like a new lease of life breathed into industry," she said.

Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions president Mr Alfred Makwarimba said the signing of the power-sharing deal would naturally bring relief to workers.

"Naturally, we are happy if the deal has prospects of making workers begin to go about their work and realising value from their efforts. If the deal will address these issues, we will definitely support it," said Mr Makwarimba.

His counterpart at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Lovemore Matombo, said while the deal was a positive development, he would be in a better position to comment after his union has gone through the entire document.

"It is difficult to comment substantively when you do not know the contextualisation of the deal. What we need is a document that will result in the restoration of people's freedom and if that deal seeks to do that, then we are home and dry," said Mr Matombo.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Mr Eldred Masunungure echoed Mr Matombo's sentiments, and applauded the deal as it sought to create a political settlement in the country.

"I am not privy to the details of the deal, but the news of reaching a political settlement is a welcome development if it will unlock the multi-layered crisis in the country," said Mr Masunungure.

"In light of the fact that we have not had sight of the actual document, we will treat it with cautious optimism. The real litmus test will be on the implementation. That is what is going to measure its credibility, integrity and its capacity to deal with the multi-faceted challenges the country is facing."

The Zimbabwe Organisation of Opposition Political Parties secretary-general, Mr Gondai Vutuza, said his organisation welcomed the development.

"The signing will definitely give many people new hope and we look forward to the signing ceremony," said Mr Vutuza, who is also Zanu (Ndonga) organising secretary.

The signing of the power-sharing deal is a culmination of intensive and protracted negotiations by representatives from the three political parties.

Zanu-PF was represented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa; and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Nicholas Goche.

MDC-T was represented by secretary-general Tendai Biti and deputy national treasurer Elton Mangoma while MDC was represented by the party's secretary-general Welshman Ncube and his deputy, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.Ordinary Zimbabweans welcomed the signing of the deal between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations to form an inclusive

Government urging the parties to bury their differences and work together for the betterment of the country.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Karamba Muchero of Harare said the deal was a welcome development and it was a major stride towards economic development.

"The signing of the deal is a welcome development. We hope everything will go on well. It also came at the right time when things were getting tougher.

"Our leaders should bury their differences and work together in harmony for the sake of the country. On Monday there will be great joy in Zimbabwe and we hope the police will be able to contain the situation," he said.

Mr George Mudzingwa echoed the same sentiments saying that Zimbabwe was ready to revive its economy.

"I think this is a very good development for the nation of Zimbabwe. It brings hope and sanity to the nation and generally a conducive environment for business. We salute all the parties who signed the agreement not forgetting the patient President Mbeki, we give him honour," he said.

Former Studio 263 actor Denzel Burutsa said the deal was a positive step that will heal the nation and usher peace and unity among Zimbabweans.

"I hope it's not all talk and no action because the deal has brought relief among the Zimbabwean population," he said.

Mr Mike Mandi said now that the deal has been signed Zimbabweans should stop fighting and work together to overcome the challenges the country is facing.

"I think the deal will let us overcome the challenges. We also hope it will benefit ordinary Zimbabweans. The signing itself showed that the party leaders have the nation at heart and should continue working for the country," he said.

Ms Etina Washaya also welcomed the deal adding that it showed political maturity among the party leaders.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation Supporters' Association has welcomed the deal reached between the country's three main political parties saying it was a sign that Zimbabweans had matured and were keen to start rebuilding their nation.

In an interview yesterday, the Zinalisa president Cde Collins Chipare said the association was delighted that the parties had finally struck an agreement that would pave way for economic recovery and help stop the suffering of the people.

Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations on Thursday night agreed to form an all-inclusive Government whose top priority would be to turn around the economy with emphasis on food security.

"As an association we are delighted that the three main political parties in the country have put their heads together and decided to work for the good of the nation. God has answered the nation's prayers because this is what everyone has been yearning for.

"It shows maturity among the political leaders who have decided to put people ahead of personal interests."

Cde Chipare said with the conclusion of the deal the world should now work with Zimbabwe on its economic recovery path.

"The political parties should carry forward the battle against poverty, tribalism, racism and ignorance. We urge the West to remove the sanctions and engage Zimbabwe for meaningful development. The West should now let us get on with the work of resuscitating the economy and the uplifting of the people's standards of living," Cde Chipare said.

He commended Sadc-appointed mediator President Thabo Mbeki for standing by Zimbabwe during the trying times and devoting his time to solving Zimbabwe political impasse.

He said the spirit shown by President Mbeki reflected the true concept of African brotherhood and was in line with his call for African renaissance.

"We are grateful to President Mbeki for devoting his precious time to resolving Zimbabwe's political dispute even when everyone else was against the country. Surely, with leaders like him, the African continent will not be found wanting on international forums," he said.

Details of the agreement struck by the political parties will be revealed on Monday after the signing ceremony.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the power-sharing deal.

"The Secretary-General welcomes the agreement reached today in Harare between the Government and the opposition on a government of national unity," his Press office said in a statement.

"He hopes that this agreement will pave the way for a durable peace and recovery in the country and contribute to rapid improvement in the welfare and human rights of the people of Zimbabwe, who have suffered for long," it added.

Mr Ban congratulated the parties for clinching the accord and praised President Mbeki for "his tireless efforts to help them reach it".

The UN has been bolstering the South African-led mediation process through Mr Ban's special envoy Mr Haile Menkerios.

The European Commission expressed cautious optimism yesterday about the deal saying it wants to see how the agreement plays out.

"The European Commission, of course, welcomes this significant step forward," said John Clancy, commission spokesman on humanitarian aid and development issues.

"However, we will have to wait to learn much more about this on Monday," he said. "At this stage we are cautiously optimistic.

"Our main concern is that any solution is a positive solution for the people of Zimbabwe, that offers them a better future than obviously they've been living through in recent times," he added.

EU foreign ministers had been expected to extend the bloc's sanctions against Zimbabwe at a meeting on Monday but officials were reconsidering those plans yesterday in light of the agreement.

"An agreement seems to have been reached for a government of national unity. The news is coming in, we will have to evaluate the situation during the day," said a senior presidency diplomat.

EU ambassadors, preparing a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, drew up proposals on Thursday to extend the existing visa ban and asset freeze to 10 more individuals in Zimbabwe.

However, that decision came shortly before the announcement of the deal in Harare.

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel yesterday said Tsvangirai is "satisfied" with the power-sharing deal hammered out with Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions.

Speaking during a visit to Burkina Faso, Mr Michel said Tsvangirai shared his feelings during a telephone conversation on Friday, a day after news of an agreement emerged in Harare.

"The one thing I can say is that I had a phone conversation with Tsvangirai this morning," Michel told reporters in Ouagadougou where he is attending a Euro-African forum on media and development.

"I asked him if he was satisfied with the agreement, and he told me: ‘Yes, I am satisfied with the content of the agreement'. I cannot tell you more than that."

Mr Michel said he would be getting details of the accord from Tsvangirai "in the coming hours", although President Mbeki has said the deal would be made public next Monday when the deal is signed.

Britain reacted cautiously yesterday to the agreement saying it was keen to see the details of the deal.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement: "We look forward to seeing the full details of the agreement announced yesterday by President Mbeki."

Some Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora have indicated their willingness to return home and help rebuild the economy following the landmark power-sharing deal sealed by Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations.

Zimbabweans living in Africa and abroad immediately welcomed the deal with enthusiasm.

Most had been forced out by economic problems.

When President Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC formations put pen to paper on Monday, hopes for a return to normalcy in Zimbabwe gathered momentum.In a snap survey conducted by CAJ News in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United Kingdom on Friday, thousands of Zimbabweans expressed gratification with the deal and said they would consider going back home once the new political dispensation starts to take effect.

"This is the time we have all been waiting for. I am so sure that even investors from around the globe are happy to hear the breaking news from Harare.

"Business opportunities are plenty," said Misheck Makumbe, a PhD student at the University of Oxford, in England.

In Johannesburg, refugees at the Central Methodist celebrated the deal with song and dance. "I am going back home once the real document has been signed by the three principals in the power-sharing deal. My fears at the moment are that probably one of them might change his mind at the last minute, denting our hopes of going back home.

"We are tired of being chased down and hunted by South African Police Service as if we were criminals. Zimbabweans have been badly treated in this country by police, with the majority of them taking our hard-earned cash simply because we did not have papers. Some of our sisters have been used as sex machines by the police," claimed Evans Moyo.

"We have been hunted as animals, abused, beaten for no apparent reason, taken advantage of and rebuked publicly without committing any crime, and this is the time to say goodbye South Africa.

"That has come to an end if the deal indeed materialises on Monday. I tell you, there is no place like home, and we are just going back home whether it looks homely or not," Moyo added. Even the blind begging for cash and food in the streets of Johannesburg could be heard talking in Shona and Ndebele with some already starting to make plans to return home after the official signing ceremony.

"Finally, God answered our prayers. Before crossing the bridge, I will kiss the ground and lift the Zimbabwean soil into the air while glorifying the Almighty. I am sure this is the time everybody has been waiting for, and we should start rebuilding our country," said Muchineripi Manjengwa, of Mbare, who is based in Diepsloot.

In public places of entertainment, commercial sex workers from Zimbabwe hinted that they would quit the oldest profession and head back home to try to lead a decent life.

"I have done bad things here in South Africa, sleeping with men of all kinds, not because I wanted to, but because I needed cash to sustain my family back home."

My husband believes that I am employed yet I am earning a living through prostitution, and this is the right time to call it quits and go back home. I am a qualified teacher, but I could not do the same work here because my immigration papers are not in order," said a woman who refused to be identified to protect her marriage.

But some Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia said they were not so sure they could secure good jobs should they return home.

"Yes, I am happy but my worry is that I am not so sure if I can find a job again there and live comfortably. I had a top job there before leaving and it really worries me if I cannot reclaim it.

"I think I have to wait a bit while studying the situation. If business opportunities are promising then I'm flying back home in December for good," said Matthews Muchena, who is based in Manchester, Britain.

"Finally, God has answered Zimbabwe. Fellow Zimbabweans, are you from the east, west, north and south, it is time to celebrate once again.

"And more importantly, let us praise the Lord Almighty Jehovah for answering our prayers after years of socio-economic suffering in foreign lands.

"I am quite convinced that each and everyone of us, who is in the Diaspora is ready to go back home any moment. But let us not forget to contribute towards rebuilding of our beloved country. Ishe komborerai Zimbabwe zvakare. Meet me in Zimbabwe. Tired of being treated as second-class citizen in foreign lands," said a Zimbabwean journalist based in South Africa.

The African National Congress, South Africa's ruling party congratulated President Mbeki for a job well done despite some sharp criticisms from the Congress for South Africa of Trade Unions, saying the newly concluded deal would help improve people's lives.

ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said her party warmly welcomed news of the agreement of a landmark power-sharing deal by Zimbabwe's leading political parties.

"We congratulate President Thabo Mbeki for his sterling work during the mediation process that has led to this achievement. The ANC congratulates the leadership of Zanu-PF and MDC for having persisted in seeking a solution.

"The ANC is confident that all parties and leaders will now work together to advance the interests of the Zimbabwean people. Not only is the agreement important for Zimbabwe, but has far-reaching political and economic implications for Southern Africa and the entire African continent," said Duarte.

She added: "It will make a certain contribution to building peace and prosperity. The international community should now assist in reconstruction, reconciliation and nation building in Zimbabwe."

Elsewhere in Pretoria, diplomatic missions interviewed by CAJ News also expressed satisfaction with President Mbeki's perseverance even when the pressure was too much for him.

"Thumbs up to President Mbeki. This man is very strong, very courageous and focused. He was unnecessarily criticised and ridiculed by fellow African leaders --- mainly the shortsighted ones --- the West and the so-called human rights groups for unclear reasons.

"Today he has done the entire world proud by brokering the Zimbabwe deal. President Mbeki's quiet diplomacy, finally paid off," said Maunganidze Dzapasi, who is working in Australia. --- Additional reporting by CAJ News.

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