Mugabe finally shares some of that power.



(NY Times) Mugabe Foe Sworn In as Zimbabwe Prime Minister: After months of violence, negotiation and reluctant compromise, Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, on Wednesday swore in his nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai, as prime minister of a power-sharing government in which Mr. Mugabe still dominates the repressive state security forces.

Mr. Tsvangirai has fought Mr. Mugabe’s authoritarian rule for a decade as opposition leader, but he said he would now work with him to end a raging cholera outbreak, curb hyperinflation ravaging the economy, get children back to school and feed a famished population.

“I, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, do swear that I will well and truly serve Zimbabwe in the office of prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, so help me God,” he declared, standing opposite Mr. Mugabe beneath a white tent on the grounds of Zimbabwe’s state house in Harare.

The success of this improbable partnership — the working-class former union leader, Mr. Tsvangirai, who never went to college, and the university-educated liberation hero, Mr. Mugabe — is still very much in doubt.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s decision to accept the role of prime minister constituted an ambiguous coda to almost a year of bitter confrontation. Mr. Tsvangirai, 56, bested Mr. Mugabe, 84, in the first round of presidential elections last March, but dropped out of a discredited June runoff because of state-sanctioned attacks on his supporters.

Thousands of Mr. Tsvangirai’s partisans cheered him wildly at a rally on Wednesday, but their enthusiasm was tinged with anxiety and anger. Tossing wads of worthless trillion-dollar notes into the air, they vented their outrage at one of the most deeply despised members of Mr. Mugabe’s government, Gideon Gono, the governor of the nation’s Reserve Bank. His penchant for printing money has driven the inflation rate into the stratosphere and rendered the salaries of teachers, nurses and other public servants so worthless they cannot even afford bus fare to go to work.

“Gono, Gono, Gono must go,” they chanted.

Mr. Tsvangirai may find their urgent demand for change difficult to deliver, with Mr. Mugabe still wielding executive power and Mr. Gono still in charge of the Reserve Bank. Mr. Tsvangirai dropped his demands for exclusive oversight of the police, agreeing to share control. Mr. Mugabe maintained his grip on other elements of the security forces.

However, Mr. Tsvangirai’s decision on Tuesday to appoint his party’s secretary general, Tendai Biti, as finance minister, sent a clear signal that his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, would not remain quiet when the cabinet met.

Mr. Biti, a lawyer and former student leader, resisted the decision to govern with Mr. Mugabe and has criticized Mr. Mugabe’s policies and the repression of his critics even as Mr. Biti himself was facing treason charges punishable by death. Those charges were withdrawn by a judge only last week.

The United States and Europe — whose aid is essential to rebuilding the ruined economy — are dubious about whether Mr. Mugabe will let Mr. Tsvangirai restore the rule of law and depoliticize the delivery of food and other basic services. They have said they will not lift sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and senior officials in his party until they see progress.

The signs this week were not auspicious. Officials in Mr. Tsvangirai’s party said in recent days that they had an understanding with Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, that the government would free about 30 opposition and human rights advocates abducted in recent months, but as of Wednesday night they were still jailed.

About a dozen of those abducted and their doctors have submitted affidavits to the court attesting to torture at the hands of state security agents.

Mr. Tsvangirai, speaking to his supporters on Wednesday, denounced the continued detention of the activists, saying, “For too long, Zimbabwe has endured violent political polarization. This must end today.”

In another sign of the authoritarian reflexes of Mr. Mugabe’s government, the riot police broke up a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday of some 600 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, arresting eight women and two human rights lawyers, who remained in jail Wednesday evening.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s participation in the government made some Zimbabweans worry that he would be neutralized and absorbed into Mr. Mugabe’s party, as was Joshua Nkomo, the leader of a rival nationalist movement during Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence in the 1980s.

“I know it’s a marriage of convenience, but Tsvangirai must be very careful because Mugabe is a schemer,” said Moses Mutandadzi, 34, a civil servant at the Tsvangirai rally on Wednesday. “This agreement will not last.”

His fears were not unfounded. After the swearing-in ceremony, a veteran ZANU-PF official who belongs to the party’s politburo said of Mr. Tsvangirai, speaking on the understanding that he would not be quoted by name: “He will not last. I swear to you. We just want to buy time.” (source)