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Story Publication logo November 21, 2008

Zimbabwe: The Deal that Never Was


Media file: zimbabwe.jpg

In almost three decades of rule, Robert Mugabe's evolution from liberator to tyrant led Zimbabwe...


On September 15, 2008, the cellphone networks were so jammed, I couldn't reach any of my friends in Zimbabwe or abroad to share the news that I was covering first hand. What a day in the history of our country! After months of anticipation, the political deal was signed.

Almost everyone I spoke to was joyous and expectant. President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, in power since Zimbabwe's Independence in 1980, had at last agreed to share power with the opposition MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

By international observer accounts, Mugabe lost elections in March. But rather than go quietly into the night, he claimed enough votes through rigging to trigger a runoff. The ensuing campaign was so marred by Zanu-PF violence against the opposition that Tsvangirai pulled out of that race, leaving Mugabe the sole candidate.

The power-sharing deal brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki was signed at the Harare International Conference Centre at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. There was jubilation. Southern African leaders from Tanzania, Swaziland, Botswana, and Zambia gathered for the ceremony. It had taken months of secret negotiations to get the politicians to agree. Young barefoot girls in vibrant blue and orange nhembe (traditional dress) danced, and poets sang praises to the parties, drowning out our voices.

Continue reading The Deal that Never Was at Frontline/World

Watch an interview (over the telephone) with the journalist

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