Zimbabwe parliamentarians from both the ruling party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are expected to debate the law to form a unity government today (Thursday). Today's debate forms part of the first step towards an all inclusive government between the opposition MDC and President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF. This follows a meeting between the opposition leader and South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe to address concerns raised by the opposition. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he as content with the meeting with the South African leader to clear the obstacles of the power sharing deal with Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party. Nelson Chamisa is an opposition member of parliament and spokesman for the MDC. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that he expects a smooth debate to pave the way for a unity government.

"We were supposed to debate this amendment number 19 on Tuesday, but because there had been some misunderstanding between ourselves and ZANU-PF with regards to when and how this bill was supposed to be brought to parliament, we argued that the outstanding issue has to be resolved. Fortunately, those issues have been resolved and in fact the negotiators yesterday in South Africa managed to deal with those issues. So, today we are supposed to debate and have amendment number 19 on the floor of the national assembly," Chamisa noted.

He said when the bill becomes law it paves the way for an all inclusive between President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC.

"When it goes through the senate, hopefully it would be passed into law, paving the way for the formation of the inclusive government, which is going to be marked by the swearing in of the prime minister and deputy prime ministers as well as cabinet ministers later after the 11th that is on the 13th. Then the government is supposed to be in place," he said.

Chamisa said today's debate would go smoothly because of what he describes as cleared obstacles of the power sharing agreement between the opposition and the ZANU-PF.

"I don't quite see controversies or any impediments because this is basically the giving of legal effect to a political settlement. Something that has been agreed upon by the political parties involved in this process. So, I just expect a smooth sailing on the flow of this amendment in parliament and in the senate and then we wait for the next step," Chamisa pointed out.

He said the release of the opposition political prisoners would be a sign of benevolence by the ruling ZANU-PF party.

"In fact what becomes critical is then the release of the abductees or those who were arrested against their will because again it is going to be a big issue. A significant gesture of goodwill, a manifestation of a new direction and a new dispensation and a new page that we have turned to and I think it is going to be critical in signaling that indeed there is an atmosphere of good faith. And that there is sincerity and that indeed we have opened a new chapter as a people," he said.

Chamisa said Zimbabweans should be hopeful after concerns of the opposition party over disagreements in the power sharing talks were resolved.

"It is a dawn of a new era. The sun is rising and we all need to get ready to work for our country and we have to be hopeful and optimistic. I have no doubt that the people of Zimbabwe given the chance and the opportunity always comes second to none. In fact we are going to shine as a nation we are going to be the beacon of Africa and indeed the whole world as the haven of democracy and a guardian of freedom and justice. And I have no doubt in my mind that given the opportunity Zimbabweans always rise to the occasion," Chamisa pointed out.

He said the people of Zimbabwe are ready to face any challenges to rebuild the country.

"Of course we are going to have challenges, but we will overcome those challenges. We have a lot of opportunities for the people of Zimbabwe because of our hard work, industriousness, education and the peace loving nature of our people. And those things are going to be important ingredient for the blossoming of this great nation," he said.    

Today's debate paves the way for a unity government amid calls by the African Union and the  South Africa for international sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted to assist in reviving the country's economic malaise.

African leaders who just ended a summit in the Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa pushed for sanctions to be lifted against Mugabe's regime after the MDC agreed to join the government last Friday.

Meanwhile, embattled President Robert Mugabe said the formation of an inclusive government involving his ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC is consistent with Zimbabwe's progressive record of nation-building reaffirming his commitment to the establishment of the anticipated inclusive government in line with the broad-based agreement signed on September 15 last year.

Under the power sharing agreement, Mugabe remains the head of state and government, and commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces as well as the chair of Cabinet and the National Security Council, formerly the Joint Operations Command. MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai comes on board as prime Minister while another faction of the MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara assumes the mantle of deputy prime minister.