Tsvangirai – who became Zimbabwe's Prime Minister after agreeing to
join a power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe on
February 11, said officials, including police – who violate human
rights were damaging Zimbabwe's prospects for recovery, adding that in
future such officials could face arrest and prosecution.
The former opposition leader, who was addressing Parliament for the
first time in his new role as Prime Minister, called on the
international community to reciprocate moves by Zimbabwe to restore the
rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy by moving to lift
sanctions imposed on Mugabe and several top government officials.Â
No donor country or institution is going to offer any meaningful
assistance unless our new government projects a positive new image.
Brutal suppression, wanton arrests and political persecution impede our
ability to rebuild our economy, said Tsvangirai.
The days of the police wantonly and violently breaking up peaceful
demonstrations and gatherings and needlessly imprisoning innocent
Zimbabweans must now come to an end. In future such activities could
bring the threat of prosecution, he said.
Once a model African economy Zimbabwe is suffering a severe economic
and humanitarian crisis marked by the world's highest inflation of more
than 200 million percent, acute shortages of food and basic
commodities, amid a cholera epidemic that has infected more than 80 000
people and killed nearly 4 000 others.
Analysts say the new unity government's ability to restore Zimbabwe to
its former regional breadbasket status hinges on whether it is able to
raise significant financial support from rich Western countries that
have however said they will not immediately help until they are
convinced Mugabe is committed to genuinely sharing power with
Western nations led by the United States and Britain – Zimbabwe's two
biggest donors – have also said they want Harare to submit a credible
economic recovery programme and to implement genuine and comprehensive
political and economic reforms before they can provide support.
Tsvangirai said the government was committed to implementing wide
ranging reforms, including freeing the media, ensuring respect for
human and property rights, rule of law and freedom of expression.
The government will lead the writing of a new and democratic
constitution for Zimbabwe with citizens having a final say on the
document in a referendum, he said.
Tsvangirai promised tough action against corruption but said the new
government would not pursue retribution against those responsible for
the divisions, violence and strife of past years.
The new government would not reverse Mugabe's chaotic and often violent farm redistribution programme, Tsvangirai said.
But a land audit would be undertaken to establish who owned which land
and eliminate hoarding of land which had seen top officials of the old
government and then ruling ZANU PF party grabbing several farms with
some taking as many as six farms each.
Tsvangirai said: A viable land acquisition and distribution process is
essential to redress the racist land ownership patterns established
during the colonial era.
As flawed as the recent process of land redistribution has been, this
government does not intend to reverse it, but rather to institute
measures that will once again see our agricultural sector becoming the
jewel of Southern Africa.
A National Economic Council comprising representatives of all economic
sectors and civic society in Zimbabwe will be set up to help drive
economic recovery, said Zimbabwe's Prime Minister.
Tsvangirai said as Zimbabweans moved to correct past mistakes and
implement credible reforms, Western governments should reciprocate by
I therefore urge the international community to recognise our efforts,
and to note the progress that we make in this regard, and to match our
progress by moving towards the removal of restrictive measures, he
The US and the European Union have maintained visa and financial
sanctions against Mugabe, top officials of his old government and ZANU
PF party as punishment for failure to uphold human rights, democracy
and the rule of law.
The Western nations have said they are prepared to review sanctions
once there is evidence of genuine political and economic reform in
Zimbabwe. (Full text of speech available on our website).
ZimOnlinePost published in: News