On 21 July, President Robert Mugabe and Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai met face to face for the first time in nearly 10 years. They were brought together by South African president Thabo Mbeki and signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) binding Zanu PF and the two MDC factions to intensive talks to break the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
The MoU prevents the parties from negotiating through the media but this secrecy is widely condemned. Media leaks show there are numerous hurdles to a transitional power sharing agreement. Hopes for a peaceful outcome remain uncertain. In the meantime, Mugabe’s party is still running the country and the suffering for 11 million ordinary Zimbabweans worsens.
A local bank has revealed that Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is well over 20 million%. Mugabe’s ban on food aid has hit 3 million people very hard. People now use petrol vouchers , coupons and other currencies instead of Zimbabwean dollars which are not even worth the paper they are printed on. Basic commodities are way above the average Zimbabwean’s means, leaving them largely dependent on remittances from the 4 million Zimbabweans living outside of the country. Zimbabweans desperately await a political breakthrough that will enable them to rebuild their lives.
CWS is appealing for funds to help partners in Zimbabwe deal with the crisis. While the ban on food aid has hampered some of their work, they have been working with internally displaced people in Harare to provide emergency food, household necessities and counselling. This work will be expanded around the country as soon as the situation allows.
@world Spring/Summer 2008