Zimbabwe's bloggers are reacting with hope, but also anger and dismay to Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to join Robert Mugabe in a coalition governmet. It is a wonderfully eclectic mix that reflects the sheer emotional exhaustion of the Zimbabwean people after a marathon seven-month political impasse, which was compounded by the world-record inflation levels.
Amanda Atwood, writing on the Kubatana Blog a few hours after the announcement was made, expressed utter dejection in a post entitled “It's Official, The MDC Has Sold Out“. She wrote:
This deal is entirely detestable. In its statement today the MDC said this didn’t mean it was giving up the struggle, just taking it to a different arena. But it’s hard to imagine that the party will have much success fighting for true democracy inside a flawed government, when it has come to such little effect outside it. A friend of mine yesterday said he’d heard this deal likened to putting on a dirty shirt. I said it’s more like putting on a dirty condom – smelly, sticky, damp, diseased and distasteful.
Admittedly, I don’t know what other the option the MDC had. A different party – one which was more Movement than Party might well have had different cards to play. But the MDC lacks the capacity to lead any sort of civil disobedience or “make the country ungovernable” movement, which might have resulted in a different outcome. Instead, the MDC has tended towards negotiations and legal challenges and contesting undemocratic elections. This strategy has left it high and dry at this most recent negotiating table.
The day after the announcement, Saturday, 31 January 2009, Eusebia at the Blog Peace Love and Happiness, was in a different mood, saying she felt like the storm in Zimbabwe was now over. In a post Entitled “Zimbabwe: The Storm Is Over” she says:
In the low-density area where I lIve there is no open jubilation because in September last year when the GNU agreement was signed some people openly celebrated only to have their hopes dashed a few days later, so now people are cautious about celebrating too soon and prefer to have a wait and see attitude. Personally I have chosen to accept this new development in Zimbabwe with an optimistic mind, I know just how the suffering of the ordinary people in Zimbabwe had reached unprecedented levels and I know how the ordinary people were now in desperate need of a solution to end their plight and I want to believe that the three GNU leaders will work together to rebuild the nation they had destroyed so that ordinary Zimbabweans can once again lead a comfortable life. For some of my fellow bloggers to now dwell on pointing out how they think this union is a mistake and predict doom or dwell on how Tsvangirai has been outwitted by Mugabe is rather inappropriate if they have the country's best interests at heart.
And dwell on how Tsvangirai has been outwitted is exactly what I did on my blog, Denford Magora's Zimbabwe Blog. I have written repeatedly that Tsvangirai would join because he had been boxed in cleverly by Mugabe and SADC. But I still thought that when he did, he would be doing so with some really meaningful concessions from Mugabe.
On the day of the announcement as well as the day before, I pointed out on the blog that Tsvangirai was walking into government with none of his really important demands met. Jestina Mukoko's continued detention and torture is only one of these demands, as I explained in my post entitled “MDC Formally Agrees To Join Mugabe in Government”:
The MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai, however, are putting on a brave front, claiming that they were” given concessions by SADC” that most of their demands will be met.As I mentioned previously, the really important demands which have not been addressed at all by Mugabe are:
- The release of MDC activists abducted by Mugabe and subsequently charged with plotting to overthrow the ZANU PF government through force of arms. These banditry charges still stand and the acticists are still in custody, with Mugabe's judges refusing to release them on bail. The judges also refuse to iunvestigate the unlafu; abductions of the same activists, including Jestina Muukoko
- The “equitable distribution of ministries” has not been addressed at all. The MDC goes into government on the basis of the same distribution of ministries that they said made them junior partners in the deal
Okay – so the MDC has backed Tsvangirai's decision to enter into a power-sharing government. Does this mean that the problems in Zimbabwe will miraculously disappear overnight? Far from it!
Does this mean that the oppression and violence will stop? Will political detainees be released? Will money and employment become available?
Mugabe will continue to rule the roost and Tsvangirai/MDC will be sidelined. I see this power-sharing government being very similar to the ZANU PF/ZAPU ‘peace’ accord in 1987 which resulted in the virtual demise of ZAPU.
But I do NOT believe that the MDC have sold Zimbabweans down the river…
No voices were raised in support of the agreement in any of the threads at newzimbabwe Forums. Here, ZANU PF supporters openly taunted the MDC supporters who, when they did respond, did so by exclaiming that Tsvangirai had sold out and disowning him and the party. Some looked with hope to rumour of a split between Tsvangirai and his Secretary-General, Tendai Biti, urging him to form a new party in a thread entitled “Letter to Biti”