Mugabe and Tsvangirai, BFF?

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai finally reached an agreement to share power today. Time to applaud, right?  Maybe. On paper, today’s agreement represents a huge change. Three decades of ruling alone are over for Mugabe. Tsvangirai will be prime minister, with many governing responsibilities. Then you add the ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
592600_080915_zimbabwe5.jpg
592600_080915_zimbabwe5.jpg

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai finally reached an agreement to share power today. Time to applaud, right? 

Maybe.

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai finally reached an agreement to share power today. Time to applaud, right? 

Maybe.

On paper, today’s agreement represents a huge change. Three decades of ruling alone are over for Mugabe. Tsvangirai will be prime minister, with many governing responsibilities.

Then you add the backdrop, as seen in the above video coverage, and it becomes clear: Perhaps nothing but the paper has changed.

Tsvangirai, playing his role as opposition, spoke about the need for reform. Mugabe, playing the wise old ruler, lamented what he calls foreign intervention from his favorite scapegoats: former colonial power Britain and the United States. They were two men giving radically different speeches — the first crafted and the second rambling — as if unaware of one another. Mugabe never acknowledged Tsvangirai as prime minister. Tsvangirai buried his head in his hands as Mugabe spoke. Moderator Thabo Mbeki looked sternly forward as the Zimbabwean leader recounted the negotiating process.

There were big smiles for the signing, followed by palpable tension. Outside, supporters of each of the two men threw rocks at one another. There’s a long way to go.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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