Zimbabwe unity government by week’s end

Zimbabwe unity government by week's end

 

                              Mugabe & Tsvangirai

HARARE- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Monday he expected a unity government to be formed by the end of this week, ending an impasse with the opposition over cabinet posts.


An outline agreement signed this month between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai brought hope that political stability could reverse Zimbabwe’s economic chaos. So far, Zimbabweans have seen little benefit from the deal.

“We discussed the ministries before I left. Only four remain, but there is no deadlock,” Mugabe told reporters on his return form a U.N. General Assembly meeting. “We will be setting up government this week, towards the end of the week.”

Tsvangirai, who is set to become prime minister under the deal, called on Saturday for the formation of a power-sharing government “in the next few days” to help end the crisis.

Under the deal, Mugabe retains the presidency and chairs cabinet, while Tsvangirai will chair a council of ministers supervising the cabinet.

Arthur Mutambara, who heads a small faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is also taking part in the negotiations and is set to be one of two deputy prime ministers.

The opposition will have a combined cabinet majority, with Tsvangirai’s main MDC faction controlling 13 cabinet posts in the new government, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF 15 and Mutambara’s breakaway MDC faction three.

FIGHTING INFLATION

Western donors are waiting to see if the new government will introduce democratic and economic reforms before committing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and investment.

Mugabe has scared away investors with a nationalisation law that gives locals the right to take majority control of foreign companies, including mining and banking.

Speaking to supporters from his ZANU-PF party at the airport, Mugabe suggested he had no intention of changing his nationalisation policies.

“In mining, we will also ensure majority control of all mines,” he said.

The central bank introduced higher denomination banknotes on Monday in another sign of the runaway hyperinflation that shows no sign of abating.

The new notes went into circulation only two months after the central bank redenominated the Zimbabwean dollar, which has plummeted in value in step with galloping inflation, now pegged at above 11 million percent.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the country’s main industrial body, has said many traders had lost confidence in the local currency and were charging in foreign currency for goods and services.

In addition to facing chronic shortages of food, foreign currency and fuel, Zimbabweans have been dealing with a shortage of local currency. Some consumers sleep outside banks to beat the long queues that form outside in the morning.

The central bank on Monday raised cash withdrawal limits to Z$20,000 from a previous Z$1,000, which was hardly enough to buy a loaf of bread on the thriving black market.

Analysts, however, have said the moves are unlikely to reverse the country’s economic slide unless accompanied by a resolution of the impasse over the naming of a new cabinet.

Critics say Mugabe’s policies such as the seizure of white-owned commercial farms for blacks with little experience in agriculture have destroyed the economy.

Mugabe accuses Western powers, especially former colonial master Britain, of sabotaging the economy through sanctions.

Mugabe vowed to continue with the land reforms but said farmers with lots of land would have to give some of it up.

“There shall never be a reversal of the the land reform program but what we want is for the farms to be used productively. We will also be repossessing some farms from those who (own) two, three farms,” Mugabe said.
(Reuters)

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