Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Zim Parliament to be sworn in next week

Zimbabwe’s government plans to convene Parliament next week despite deadlock in talks to end a post-election political crisis that has worsened the country’s economic decline and seen inflation hit 11-million percent.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change said it was not opposed to the opening of parliament but would reject any moves by President Robert Mugabe to appoint a Cabinet before a power-sharing agreement is sealed.

”If he [Mugabe] goes further and appoints a Cabinet, it will be against the letter and spirit of the MOU,” party spokesperson Tapiwa Mashakada said, in reference to a memorandum of understanding between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition on the negotiations.

In March elections, Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, but Morgan Tsvanigrai’s MDC did not win an overall majority either. The balance of power rests in the hands of a breakaway opposition faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

He has moved closer to Mugabe in recent weeks and any deal between them could weaken Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s most powerful opposition leader, and add to political uncertainty.

Negotiations began last month after Mugabe was re-elected unopposed in June, in a vote condemned around the world and boycotted by Tsvangirai because of attacks on his supporters.

Staggering inflation
The political deadlock over who will control the government has hindered efforts to ease Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

Inflation rocketed to a staggering 11-million percent in June, the highest in the world, from 2,2-million in May, and chronic food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening.

But many economists believe the figure is higher still and it has little meaning for Zimbabweans, who find that a loaf of bread costs almost five times more than it did a month ago — if it can be found for sale.

”Do they say in that figure that we can no longer afford bus fares, rent, hospital fees, and that we can’t buy groceries? If the numbers don’t say that, then it is meaningless,” said Sarah Machakairie (48) a Harare vegetable seller.

Zimbabweans hope for a new leadership that can find a quick way to tame inflation and ease hardships that have driven millions out of the country and strained regional economies.

”When you’re going into a hyper-inflation cycle, until such a time as the authorities take appropriate steps to counter it, it seems to continue to spiral out of control,” said Leon Myburgh, analyst at Citigroup in Johannesburg.

Tsvangirai’s MDC challengesg Mugabe’s legitimacy, but under Zimbabwean law, Parliament is convened and officially opened by the state president.

Still, the MDC’s decision not to oppose the opening of Parliament may have been a concession, given the fierce power struggle gripping Zimbabwe.

But the issue of who will run the government is a major obstacle to an agreement, and there are no guarantees that a deal will bring reconciliation and long-term stability.

MDC officials fear Mugabe is manoeuvering to give Tsvangirai only a few ministries.

Southern African heads of state at a regional summit in Johannesburg over the weekend failed to push Zanu-PF and the MDC into an agreement. – Reuters

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and access the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, you can a full year’s access for just R510. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Andries Tatane’s spirit will drive fight against ANC in Ficksburg

The nascent Setsoto Service Delivery Forum is confident it can remove the ‘failing ANC’ in the chronically mismanaged Free State municipality

Paddy Harper: On gleeful politicians and headless chickens

Paddy Harper doesn’t know who to vote for yet, since the Dagga Party isn’t contesting his ward, but right now what to order for lunch is a more pressing concern

Malema: ANC will use load-shedding to steal votes

While on the campaign trail in the Eastern Cape, EFF leader Julius Malema, without evidence, claimed the ANC was planning to use rolling blackouts to ‘steal votes’

Khaya Koko: The looting isn’t over until the fat belly...

A song about Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane preventing looting was way off the mark in a province riddled with corruption and theft

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…