What Awaits Zimbabwe’s New Prime Minister?

Feb 11, 2009 11:36am

By DANA HUGHES, ABC News Digital Reporter, Nairobi It’s no wonder that many Zimbabweans were overjoyed at Tsvangirai’s swearing-in ceremony. He promised to repair Zimbabwe’s economy; he promised to fix the country’s health care system; he promised that Zimbabwe might once again become Africa’s “bread basket” instead of the basket case the country is now considered. And archrival Mugabe, who for years has done everything in his power  –  short of  having Tsvangirai assassinated  –  to thwart all attempts at ending his nearly 30-year rule, stood next to him after swearing him in. But behind today’s ceremony lies a nearly impossible task, a power-sharing agreement  in which the balance of power continues to favor Mugabe and his regime, after an election considered anything but free and fair by international standards. In fact, many Western donor countries, including the United States, are reportedly saying that they won’t  contribute to Zimbabwe’s reconstruction until they see that Tsvangirai is an equal partner in governing the country. Zimbabwe might do well to look at Kenya, the last African country to have a flawed election ending in violence, which ultimately ended because of a power-sharing national accord. One year on, Kenyans are feeling disillusioned about their coalition government. By having no true opposition, there is no system of checks and balances to curb corruption or to speak for the people. Infighting within the coalition has revealed rifts and inequality in the supposed partnership between the president and the prime minister. In short, critics are now saying that the power-sharing agreement may have stopped the bloodshed in the short term, but may prove costly to the country’s democracy long-term.

Kenya was at least experiencing peace and economic growth before its post-election violence. Zimbabwe is considered, for all intents and purposes, a failed state. The hurdles for this coalition government to succeed seem almost insurmountable, but the cost of its failure could be catastrophic for a nation already teetering on complete collapse. Read more blogs by Dana Hughes Read more blogs by ABC News staff

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