Tsvangirai comes to Washington
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiari is in Washington this week, part of his three-week tour of foreign capitals carrying a simple but vital message: Zimbabwe is finally headed down the right path, so please world, do pitch in. His is not an easy task. As he told me a few weeks ago by phone ...
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiari is in Washington this week, part of his three-week tour of foreign capitals carrying a simple but vital message: Zimbabwe is finally headed down the right path, so please world, do pitch in.
His is not an easy task. As he told me a few weeks ago by phone from Zimbabwe, many donors have been reluctant to start up much more than humanitarian aid — skeptical that change can come while Mugabe remains in power. But Tsvangirai and his cabinet members have already proven many critics (like myself) wrong: inflation has dropped dramatically, food is back on the shelves, and security has returned to the streets. As he put it speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations today, “Zimbabwe is changing. Already Zimbabwe is a different place, a significantly better place. As a society, we were near death, and we have come back to life.”
But on top of talking policy today, Tsvangirai gave some insight during his Q&A at CFR about what his daily life is like in the government. Here’s some highlights:
On what is motivating Mugabe:
I don’t want to demean those who have the misfortune of being over 85. [Laughs] But I can assure you that, what probably motivates people of that age group is the legacy. I can only deduce the fact that perhaps it’s about what is the legacy… I’m sure at his late, twilight years, he has realized that he has to end his life as the founding father ofthe nation, not somebody who is the villain of the nation.
On what still keeps him up at night worrying:
Let me say that what gives me optimism is the hope that we have created a new Zimbabwe. I went to my village and i met a woman who said, Prime Minister, we want you only to do two things: get our education working, get our health system working. You have succeeded. To me, it’s a very easy task: the educations is working; the health is working. Now of course, there are higher, complex issues that we have to deal with of governance. And of course, I have my worries. I have my worries when we think that things are moving smoothly and all of a sudden something pops up; a journalist is arrested.. and it becomes the news — the negative becomes the news. The postive is then ignored in the process. And that is my worry. I am also worried, like all of you, we have experienced mistrust on President Mugabe’s committment to this process. I still have my one corner of my mind that says: maybe he’s trying to cheat me. I have to be on my guard. But certainly, I have to always look hopeful because that’s what people expect. To me, the people of Zimbabwe are cautiously optimistic that we are on the right path.
Tsvangirai meets Obama on Friday to talk about “how the United States can support the forces of reform as they work to bring the rule of law, respect for human rights, and free and fair elections back to Zimbabwe,” according to the White House. Good luck, Mr. Prime Minister. Read our recent full interview with Tsvangirai here.
Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
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