Cakes, Crumbs, and Surprises in Zimbabwe

By Nontando Hadebe 8-28-2008

The "cake" vs. "crumbs" power-sharing struggle continues in Zimbabwe. One of the reasons for the breakdown in the talks is that the government (ZANU-PF) wants the "whole power cake" and wants to give the opposition "crumbs." The intention of negotiations was to divide the "power cake" evenly so that a transitional government could be installed to stabilize the country and pave the way for fresh elections in two years. The memorandum of agreement signed by all parties agreed to this statement:

The parties shall not, during the subsistence of the dialogue, take any decisions or measures that have a bearing on the agenda of the dialogue, save by consensus. Such decisions or measures include, but are not limited to the convening of Parliament or the formation of a new government.

By unilaterally convening parliament, the government violated the agreement. Another intriguing development has been the defection by one wing of the opposition party to join the government. The opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is comprised of two factions, one led by Mutambara (smaller faction) and the other by Tswangirai (larger faction). Mutambara defected to join ZANU-PF in an attempt to isolate Tswangirai.

So on Monday, August 25, Parliament was convened and one of the tasks was to vote for the speaker of Parliament. This is a powerful position. To everyone's surprise, the candidate who received the most votes was from MDC Tswangirai! There was spontaneous dancing and celebration in Parliament by the opposition, which was screened live on TV! There have been few occasions for rejoicing in the past few months. But the road ahead is still uncertain and foreboding. Please continue to journey with us through your support and prayers. This is greatly appreciated. Our prayers are with your nation as you prepare for elections.

Nontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

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