MORGAN TSVANGIRAI IS PRIME MINISTER - AT LAST?
Zimbabwe now has a new Prime Minister.
Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in today as holder of this post in a power-sharing deal between the ruling ZANU-PF of President Robert Mugabe and members of the opposition - mainly the Movement for Democratic Change, the MDC.
It was a somewhat cynical, if not bizarre sight to see Mr Tsvangirai taking the oath of office in front of his bitter political enemy, President Mugabe and even more ironic considering that the opposition actually won the first round of elections that should have seen Morgan Tsvangirai becoming the President.
But that's politics for you - Zimbabwe style where President Mugabe appeared bent on sticking to the top post at whatever cost, never mind the suffering of the masses whose interests he claims to represent.
It has been a long and hard road to the ceremony witnessed today with the opposition having to endure periods of state-sponsored and directed violence. Even as he took the oath of office, the opposition leader knew that his critics would accuse him of selling out as members of the opposition are still been held by the ZANU-PF government on charges believed to have been plucked from the air.
Now that he's Prime Minister what can Morgan Tsvangirai really do?
Well just yesterday, Tuesday February 10, he announced his nominees to various cabinet and deputy posts (he was given 17) and he named MDC firebrand Secretary-General Tendai Biti as Finance minister. According to the BBC a judge last week dropped treason charges against Mr Biti over an alleged coup plot, citing lack of progress in the case against him and this was seen by analysts as paving the way for the envisaged inclusion government.
Thokozani Kupe, Mr Tsvangirai's deputy was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister as was Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the breakaway MDC.
The problems facing the new administration after the swearing-in of the new cabinet on Friday would not be an easy one. The economy is in shambles with the country, once the pride of self-sufficiency in food production now seeing sections of the population starving. Shelves of surviving shops lay bare and the currency, the Zimbbwean dollar had become so devalued that Bank Governor Gono who has been smiling through it all after adding a series of zeroes to the national currency had to allow citizens to use foreign currencies within the country. The BBC's Peter Biles adds
And even more urgent would be the need to address the cholera outbreaks that have claimed hundreds of lives and have also spread to other countries neighbouring Zimbabwe.
What many here watch for is to see just what path the new inclusion government would take in a marriage that still sees President Mugabe holding the reins of power that could be strategic to any new tinge the opposition would love to see in place.
The land issue and Mugabe's criticisms of the UK and US government over the Lancaster House deal would have to be addressed with all sides treated as equals with a view to bringing down the curtains on a thorny issue that had set Mugabe firmly on a collision course with these two countries.
Investors wanting to plough in their resources are on the sidelines, watching and waiting to see how things would eventually play out in a country whose development plans they would like to be a part of in a world that is increasingly becoming interdependent.
Today's ceremony was witnessed by Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Mozambique President Armando Emilio Guebuzza and former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the September 15 power-sharing deal as well as the Foreign Affairs ministers for South Africa and Angola.