Don’t make us pay for working with Mugabe

In his first article since taking office Zimbabwe's Prime Minister states his ambition to move from aid to trade with the West

Morgan Tsvangirai

On February 11, 2009, I took an oath as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe to work relentlessly to create a society where values are stronger than the threat of violence, where the future happiness of children is more important than partisan political go

To create a country where jobs are available for those who wish to
work, food is available for those who are hungry and where we are
united by our respect for the rights and dignity of our fellow citizens.

This is the country we are working to build and although Zimbabwe is
not yet a democracy, it is on its way to becoming one. Our success on
this journey will depend on this new, transitional Government, our
people and the international partners who will work with us to realise
this vision for our country.

The political agreement that lead to the formation of this new
Government is not perfect. I have stated my concerns on many occasions,
as has President Mugabe.

I have also stated that it is a workable agreement and by that I mean
that it can help to alleviate the suffering of the Zimbabwean people
and allow the country to move forward peacefully to a new constitution
and fresh elections.

With regard to the former, the new Government has already made small
but significant progress. We have started paying civil servants a
monthly allowance to allow the public sector to begin working again and
provide an essential stimulus to the economy. We have overseen the
opening of hospitals and schools, the taming of hyperinflation, the
lowering of prices of basic commodities and the rationalisation of
utility tariffs. Most importantly, this new political dispensation has
delivered hope to a country devoid of optimism or expectation.

These achievements are a fraction of what the country requires to start
functioning normally again. It was, however, the knowledge that we
could make an immediate and positive impact on the lives of all
Zimbabweans that guided my party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), to enter the agreement brokered by the regional Southern African
Development Community.

As I write this article, I know that we made the correct decision. The
past six weeks have proved what we are able to do, not just as a party,
but as part of an inclusive Government. For, in deciding to embrace the
political pragmatism of our regional neighbours, we entered this
administration in the spirit of the agreement, embracing its
inclusivity and abiding by its letter with regard to the implementation
of the transitional measures it contains.

Before entering this Government, we knew that most public servants, and
Zimbabweans from all walks of life, were desperate for the positive
commitments that the agreement contained. We also knew that elements of
the old regime would resist these measures and attempt to obstruct any
positive progress.

Happily, we underestimated the number of people who would embrace the
opportunities that our country now has, but, sadly, we were correct in
allowing for the residual resistance that we are now experiencing from
a small faction of non-democratic hardliners.

However, those who try to stand in the way of progress will either
realise that it is neither in their personal interests nor the nation’s
to continue their obstructionist tendencies, or they will be swept
aside by the overwhelming momentum being generated as we move forward
as a nation.

This does not mean that the success of this new Government is
guaranteed. Today Zimbabwe stands at a critical juncture that requires
the MDC to stay true to the ideals upon which it was founded. It
requires Zanu (PF) to embrace the commitments of this new agreement and
it requires all of its citizens to stand up for their rights as
enshrined in the new political agreement. This is also the time for the
West to stand by the people of Zimbabwe as they move towards the goal
of freedom and prosperity.

I can think of no contemporary example of a people who have stood by
their belief in democracy more determinedly, peacefully or bravely than
Zimbabweans. Despite a decade of persecution and violent provocation,
Zimbabweans have refused to compromise their democratic ideals or their
belief in a future of dignity, prosperity and hope by lashing out at
their opponents in anger or despair. As Prime Minister and the leader
of the largest political party in Zimbabwe, I am immensely proud of my
nation and its peoples.

Zimbabweans should not have to pay a further price for their
determination to stand by their democratic ideals because the new
Government does not meet or match the clean slate or total victory
standards expected by the West. As stated earlier, this new Government
is not perfect, but it does represent all Zimbabweans – it is positive,
it is peaceful, it is committed to a new constitution and free and fair
elections and, with international support, it will succeed.

As Prime Minister, I am responsible for ensuring the formulation of
policy by the Cabinet and its implementation by the entire Government.
It is my responsibility to ensure that the commitments that this new
Government has made to restoring the rule of law, instituting a
democratising legislative agenda, ending persecution and freeing the
media are implemented in the shortest possible time. In this, the new
Government is only now beginning to realise the muscle that it has and
to flex that muscle.

The West has been, and continues to be, the most generous provider of
humanitarian support, of which all Zimbabweans are aware and grateful
for. As a proud nation, we look forward to the day when we can develop
our relationship with the West beyond merely being a beneficiary of
emergency aid. We want to become a true economic partner and an
investment opportunity for those who respect the true value of our
natural resources and our sovereignty over them.

Indeed, as the leaders of the G20 meet in London to consider measures
to deal with the economic challenges facing their countries, I
encourage them to view Zimbabwe and other partners in Africa as
investment opportunities with the potential to stimulate their own
economic growth.

As Prime Minister, I ask you to work with me and the people of Zimbabwe
and to engage with the efforts of our new transitional Government. I
ask you to share our vision for our great country, to work with us to
rebuild our nation and to walk with us on this promising phase of our
journey to a true and lasting democracy for Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai is Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

The Times (UK)

Post published in: News

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