September 17, 2008

South African Paper Comments on Naming of Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Cabinet

Text of report by influential, privately-owned South African daily Business Day website on 16 September

[Report by Dumisani Muleya: "'Inclusive Cabinet' Plan for Zimbabwe"]

AN INCLUSIVE cabinet of Zanu (PF) and two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will be named this week as the first step of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal.

Signed yesterday amid pomp and fanfare, the deal raised hopes of ending the country's decade-long political and economic crisis. The new government of national unity faces a tough credibility test as relations are worked out between Zanu (PF) and the main opposition MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, which has taken control of parliament.

The latest unity government in Zimbabwe would be the third in the 28 years of Robert Mugabe's repressive and disastrous rule. The first collapsed after two years, and the second, in 1987, presided over the start of the country's political and economic problems.

Under the agreement signed yesterday, Mugabe effectively remains head of state and government, chairman of the cabinet and commander- in-chief of the armed forces. Mugabe will have 15 ministers in a 31- member cabinet.

Tsvangirai will become prime minister and chair a council of ministers, be deputy cabinet chairman and head of government business in parliament. He will supervise all ministers and report to Mugabe while ensuring the formulation and implementation of policies. His MDC faction will have 13 cabinet ministers.

The other smaller MDC faction, led by Arthur Mutambara who is Tsvangirai's deputy, will have three ministers. The three leaders agreed on a new cabinet at the weekend. The constitution will be amended to effect the agreement by a joint monitoring and implementation committee.

A process for a new constitution will start soon, and end in 18 months. The agreement has sections on restoration of economic stability and growth, land, sanctions, the constitution, national healing and unity, respect for national institutions, external interference, free political activity, rule of law, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of communication and expression, traditional leaders, state organs and institutions, national youth training, humanitarian food assistance, legislative agenda, and a framework for a new government.

It also contains a section on executive powers. Mugabe, whose address at the signing ceremony was full of rhetoric and included attacks on western countries, said he was committed to the deal, even though he admitted he was unhappy about some aspects.

"We are committed, I am committed, let us all be committed," Mugabe said. "We will do our best." Mugabe was jeered by a crowd that cheered Tsvangirai. He tried in vain to hold his own against the hecklers who taunted him as he claimed sanctions and western nations caused the suffering in Zimbabwe.

The crowd was unenthusiastic about Mutambara's address. Botswana's President Ian Khama competed with Tsvangirai for popularity among the crowd, which chanted "Khama, Khama, Khama". Khama was cheered for opposing Mugabe's recent disputed electoral victory. Mugabe sought to make amends, calling Khama a "close friend and a relative even".

President Thabo Mbeki was described by Mugabe as a "heroic facilitator". Tsvangirai said the new government could not afford a business-as-usual attitude, and needed to tackle economic and social problems immediately.

"This new, inclusive government will introduce a new way of governing. I call on all supporters for Zanu (PF) and MDC to unite as Zimbabweans. "Divisions, polarisation and hatred belong to the past," Tsvangirai said.

"Party divisions no longer matter. Safety must be restored to our community, our state institutions must serve the people. Our lives begin now. "Let us not be divided by our past, but be united by hope for the future."

While Tsvangirai and other leaders were claiming "divisions are a thing of the past", their supporters were involved in a skirmish outside the venue.

Zanu (PF) and MDC activists threw missiles and chased each other around. The police dispersed them.

King Mswati of Swaziland said the parties had agreed to "change the politic al landscape for the benefit of their country".

Originally published by Business Day website, Johannesburg, in English 16 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.