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Prospects for Power Sharing in Zimbabwe

Interviewee: Knox Chitiyo, Director, Africa program, Royal United Services Institute
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson, News Editor, CFR.org
July 8, 2008

Since Zimbabwe's presidential election in March, widespread reports indicate senior army officers have led a campaign of violence and intimidation targeting Zimbabwe's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and its supporters. Knox Chitiyo, head of the Africa program at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, says President Robert Mugabe and a small group of military officials are still running the country collaboratively. The security officers might agree to a power-sharing government, he says, but only if the opposition party were granted a junior role in the government. Chitiyo says they would never accept Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, as president.

Both the government and the opposition are resistant to negotiations, but Chitiyo says there is pressure on both sides. The government is on the brink of economic collapse, he says, and may soon be unable to pay the security forces—a result that would represent "a nighmare scenario for the state." The opposition, on the other hand, has no other options. "Like it or not, Tsvangirai will have to negotiate with Mugabe," Chitiyo says. The role of state officials in extreme violence has raised questions about justice and reconciliation under a transitional government. "If the price of peace is justice, it may be a price that has to be paid," he says. "I suspect most people would rather have peace at the moment than justice because the violence has just been so terrible."

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