HARARE – During their first meeting, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai refused to share tea with President Robert Mugabe, fearing the old political master might just do a trick on him.
These were the early days of the coalition government as suspicion took centre stage between two men who had spent a decade-plus fighting each other but having to work in the same government sharing executive power.
As the dusk sets upon a four-and-a-half year long power-sharing partnership between formerly sworn enemies President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, their relationship seems evolving.
Bad blood between the two developed after Tsvangirai formed his MDC party in 1999 to challenge the former guerrilla movement leader.
After more than eight years of arrests, harassment, assaults and treason accusations from Mugabe’s government, Tsvangirai later found himself having to drink tea and share a plate of biscuits with the Zanu PF leader.
With only weeks left before Zimbabwe’s watershed general election, expected sometime this year, one would have expected the relationship between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe to grow sour.
But actions and affections the two long-time rivals displayed during the signing ceremony of the new constitution suggested their relationship is getting cosier.
Sitting next to each other, occasionally holding each other’s hands and exchanging warm laughs, their actions portrayed understating, love and unity, complimenting each other with their party symbols.
After Mugabe clenched his fist in the air and chanted “pamberi ne Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai thought he should train his partner in government on the MDC’s open palm symbol.
Tsvangirai stood up and holding Mugabe’s hand and said: Imi munoti pamberi handitika? Manje isu tinoti Chinja. In response Mugabe said zvinhu zvinoda kuchinjwa, kuti chibage chochinjwa chova hupfu,(things need to be changed, from maize to mealie meal)” he joked.
Around 11:30am on Wednesday Mugabe signed constitution bill Number 20 into law setting the pace of a gruelling election between him and Tsvangirai.
The 89-year-old assured his 6i-year-old competitor and the audience that this coming election will be peaceful with no violence and no rigging.
Mugabe said the animosity between him and Tsvangirai had ended during their union as they now had better understanding of each other.
Mugabe called Tsvangirai “true son of some Buhera (rural village in Zimbabwe) family” a total change from his previous “puppet” label.
He said the two were one. Ndaimboti uyu muroyi uyu, ungagare naye iyeyu (I used to call him a witch, wondering if we will ever get along), iye achitiwo, ah, mudhara uyu anonzi ah ane twaakabata.
“Zvino, aiwa takazobvisana huroyi wani (he also used to say ‘this old man is evil’, but no, all that is over now),” Mugabe said.
“We really are very free with each other. Kana masadza tinodya tiine mufaro (we eat in joy),” he quipped. – Bridget Mananavire