• Zimbabwe: The End In Sight

    As I write, Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara are holed up in the Presidential Suite at the Rainbow Towers (formally Sheraton Harare), where Thabo Mbeki is staying while mediating an end to the so-called crisis in Zimbabwe. The sticking point is allocation of cabinet positions.

    It is now as complicated as some news organisations have made it out to be. What we know for sure at this moment is that the three have basically agreed on 90% of the cabinet posts. Finance is definitely going to the MDC. The talk of putting a neutral person in that position us now out of the window. What is left is discussion of the Home Affairs portfolio, which, to be agreed on, requires a lot of shifting of other ministries already agreed on. In addition, Tsvangirai now also wants the issue of Provincial governors settled in the presence of the mediator so that he does have to deal ZANU PF intransigence later on by himself. What is clear is that the man can not hold his own in a one-on-one negotiation with Mugabe, hence his desire to see an end to this whole thing in the presence of Mbeki. This will be quickly done, as the provincial governors' posts are really not crucial to the running of the country. (They should ideally be abolished, but both parties need spread favour around, so these portfolios exist only to provide jobs for the boys and we are not going to see them abolished any time soon.) There should be an announcement either today or tomorrow stating that all sticking points are settled.

    Yesterday, police in Harare dispersed a crowd of students who were protesting about the lack of progress towards forming a new government. They were beaten up and three of them were arrested and are still in custody, according to my most reliable information. It begs the question how much will change if this agreement is implemented. Already, there are rumblings that the MDC is especially concerned about Simba Makoni's new party and want to ensure that it is not allowed space to engage this new inclusive cabinet. We will most probably find that, as far as the rights of citizens are concerned, the MDC will work with ZANU PF to block popular protest and sentiment from being aired. That would be tragic, but it is fully expected.

    As of today, a single US dollar is worth Z$25 000 000 (twenty-five million zim dollars), although this will swiftly change once the new government is announced. We will most likely a drop to a third of that value within three days, since the cash rate (if you are buying US dollars using actual Zim dollars and not a cheque), is not even 20 000 Zim dollars to a US dollar.
    Those with sizeable holdings in Zim dollars should keep them and wait until next week before seeking to change them into US dollars.

    More later
     

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