Glitter wears off unity govt

Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe will use Saturday’s Independence Day celebrations to parade their coalition, but the sheen is wearing off the unity government.

The 29th anniversary celebrations will “celebrate the new governmental arrangement we have put in place”, a minister close to Mugabe told journalists.

Some economic stability has been achieved, but new disputes arise every day and frustration is growing over the failure to raise aid.

This week Mugabe stripped a Tsvangirai minister of his telecommunications portfolio and handed it to an ally.
Tsvangirai called the move “null and void”.

Zanu-PF hardliners have always seen telecommunications as key to keeping Mugabe in power, using it to spy on opponents. But a senior finance ministry official told the Mail & Guardian there may be a “more commercial factor” to the battle. State telecoms companies are top of the enterprises Zimbabwe is putting up for sale to fund recovery.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe will meet on Monday to try to resolve the dispute. Critics want Tsvangirai to assert his authority more, saying he risks falling further under Mugabe’s shadow.

Zanu-PF denies the existence of a group called the “Social Revolutionary Council”, reported to consist of senior officials and army figures set up to frustrate Tsvangirai.

Frustration continues to grow among civil servants, who are living on $100 monthly allowances. Mugabe also has to convince even his most radical grass-roots supporters, some of whom formed the core of his shock troops against opponents, to support the coalition.

A group of war veterans has written to Mugabe blaming the unity agreement for the failure of government to pay their monthly pensions. “We were better off when our party, Zanu-PF, was in control,” they wrote.

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