Mugabe Über Alles

The Tyranny of Unity in Zimbabwe

More than a year into a supposed unity government between President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe continues to stagnate. There has been little unity, even less partnership, a wholesale denial of basic political and human rights, and only marginal economic improvements. Mugabe is holding tightly to the levers of power. As the MDC minister of finance, Tendai Biti, put it bluntly in February, "ZANU-PF cannot continue to urinate on us."

The unity government was born in 2009, after Mugabe finally agreed to share power under pressure from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc. Tsvangirai reluctantly accepted the arrangement despite having won the March 2008 parliamentary election outright -- a result that Mugabe's handpicked electoral commission refused to honor.

From the beginning, Mugabe has run roughshod over the unity compact. Although some ministries were assigned to the MDC and some to ZANU-PF, the key Home Affairs Ministry had to be shared between the two parties because Mugabe refused to relinquish control over it. Mugabe also reneged on a promise to consult Tsvangirai before appointing the head of the central bank and the attorney general. Nor has Mugabe sworn into office most of the MDC's nominees for other government posts. In an attempt to keep virtually all governmental authority in his party's hands, he has never fully constituted the Zimbabwe National Security Council, a new entity -- on which Tsvangirai has a right to sit -- that was intended to replace the powerful Joint Operations Command, a secretive body of high-ranking ZANU-PF security officials that continues to meet out of the public eye. He agreed to appoint judges in consultation with Tsvangirai but has not done so; meanwhile, he has simply ignored court judgments that have displeased him. And he continues to extract immense sums of cash from the central bank to fund his travels, his wife's travels, and the lavish spending of their entourages. (Mugabe took 66 people

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