Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai made a first step toward a possible power-sharing arrangement on Monday, signing a framework agreement on talks. The meeting, moderated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, was the first between Mugabe and Tsavagirai in 10 years. (Reuters)
What the commentators said
These talks may lead to nothing, said the London Independent in an editorial, but “the fact that a meeting took place at all, that an agreement was signed, and that hands were shaken” is a sign of progress. Africa has offered only “pusillanimous condemnation” of Mugabe’s illegitimate June reelection, and this deal is a "first sign that perhaps an African solution might be possible.”
“It’s understandable that the African community likes this solution,” said Joshua Keating in Foreign Policy’s Passport blog. It ends bloodshed while giving token concessions to an “opposition who, after all, won the original election.” With “feeble” deals like this, and one in Kenya, African elections in which an entrenched strongman loses are becoming “just a starting point for negotiations.”
It’s telling that the deal coincided with the Bank of Zimbabwe issuing its first-ever 100 billion dollar banknotes, said the British daily The Guardian in an editorial. One of those bills won’t even buy a loaf of bread, and this Mugabe-caused erosion of livelihood is what really matters to Zimbabweans. A political deal, unless it removes Mugabe from power, "will be as worthless as one of his banknotes."