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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader to be Sworn in as Prime Minister Wednesday

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is expected to swear in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister today. The move is being hailed by many Zimbabweans as a major step towards resolving the country's economic meltdown, which has brought untold hardships to Zimbabwe citizens. Regional leaders revived a power-sharing agreement signed last year between the ruling party ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The deal stalled over disagreements in the distribution of ministerial appointments between the ruling and opposition parties. Today's swearing-in paves way for a Zimbabwe unity government when cabinet nominees take their oaths of office on Friday. On Tuesday, Tsvangirai named a finance minister to help rebuild the troubled economy. Political analyst George Mkwananzi tells reporter Peter Clottey that many Zimbabweans are looking to the future with optimism.

"Today is quite a historic moment for Zimbabwe. A day in which many people in Zimbabwe hold with great trepidation as they expect that a new era would be borne in which most of the things that have bedeviled the country causing it to literally break down might be opened up, and perhaps start a new life for the Zimbabwean people," Mkwananzi noted.

He said most Zimbabweans have a reason to hope for a better future after the unity government is formed.

"I think judging by the amount of stipulation that has been seen or accompanied the announcement by Morgan Tsvangirai that he was going to embrace this deal and work with Robert Mugabe party in the new government under the global agreement one would expect that this hope and optimism will continue to be shown by the people of Zimbabwe. And the hope that things will come around and improvement into their lives will come, will then be sustained," he said.

Mkwananzi said the often tough and robust stance of newly named finance minister Tendai Biti makes him suitable for the job.

"Let me start by saying that perhaps Tendai Biti is actually the right man to have been appointed to take up this job. Tendai Biti, you would remember, is a combative, no nonsense man, quite suitable to handle a situation where there could be some booby-traps set by ZANU-PF. You are perhaps aware that Robert Mugabe has already appointed Gideon Gono as the governor for the reserve bank of Zimbabwe. That is quite a challenge for a new finance minister who has to ensure that the reserve bank governor has to be whipped into line and forced to cooperate with the thinking line of an opposition finance minister," Mkwananzi pointed out.

He said Zimbabwe's economy can be revived by the performance of the unity government and help from the international community.

"As to whether he (Biti) would be able to turn around the economy is going to be quite a challenge. But it all depends on the good will of the international community who are expected to respond positively. But that response is also dependent on the behavior of Robert Mugabe as a partner in this inclusive government in order to turn around the economy of Zimbabwe," he said.

Under former President Thabo Mbeki, South Africa came under international criticism for not taking stronger action against neighboring President Robert Mugabe, but insisted on its policy of quiet diplomacy as the country plunged into deeper economic and political crisis. Current South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who played a pivotal role in reviving the power-sharing deal, told his parliament that Zimbabwe's new unity government is considered both inclusive and democratic. Analyst Mkwananzi says that he sharply disagrees with President Motlanthe's claim that the much-maligned policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe will be vindicated by the formation of a power-sharing government.

"I do not agree. The quiet diplomacy policy that has been adopted by South Africa, particularly under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki, has in fact delayed a solution in Zimbabwe. We can't celebrate it when its coming around has caused so much suffering. In fact, if it can be praised, it can only be praised for having preserved Robert Mugabe as one of the people still retained in government. Had it been more radical, Robert Mugabe would have been washed off the course of the river a long time ago," Mkwananzi differed.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's Parliament Tuesday approved a law that places Mugabe and Tsvangirai on a National Security Council that will oversee all the nation's security forces, meeting a key requirement of the unity accord.