Nearly a year after he won the first round of a presidential election, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai has been sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister by his long-standing enemy, President Robert Mugabe. But is it a victory, or a sell out?
Up until the last minute, Mr Tsvangirai’s participation in the new national unity government was uncertain. He had said he wouldn’t join until human rights activists and his supporters in the Movement for Democratic Change were released from prison. But as Mr Tsvangirai took the oath of office many of his supporters were still languishing in jail.
His work is cut out. More than nine out of ten Zimbabwean is unemployed; around 80% is reliant on food aid and cholera has claimed the lives of almost 3,500 people.
In a rally following his inauguration, Mr Tsvangirai promised to rebuild the country, declaring that “no Zimbabwean will ever go hungry again”. But with many of the key ministries still in the hands of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF allies and donor countries refusing to work with the president, what chance of success does he have? Many of Mr Tsvangirai’s supporters fear he will be in office, but not in power; blamed for Zimbabwe’s many ills while President Mugabe and his cronies continue to plunder the state’s diminishing resources.
Should donor countries give the unity government a chance by lifting sanctions on Zanu-PF leaders and resuming financial aid to Zimbabwe? Or has Mr Tsvangirai made a bad situation worse by prolonging the rule of a discredited despot? And how will the families of those MDC supporters who were beaten or killed feel now, seeing their leader shaking hands with Mugabe ?