Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday that “there is no better time” to hold elections than next year because the country was now stable.
Tsvangirai was quoted by online publications as saying this at an investor conference on Zimbabwe in South Africa.
One of the indications of stability, Tsvangirai said, was the fact that he could now sit down with President Robert Mugabe “and converse as human beings”.
“There is no better time for elections. The progress is tangible. There are medicines in the hospitals, food in the supermarkets and water in the taps,” he said at “The Future of Zimbabwe” summit in Johannesburg, hosted by the Economist magazine.
“But the madness has not been completely eradicated. We are in a coalition and that is difficult. I share the frustration that the pace of reforms is slow, but the pace is realistic when you consider where we’ve come from.”
Tsvangirai last Saturday told more than 5 000 MDC-T supporters at the party’s 11th anniversary celebrations that he and President Mugabe had agreed to hold elections next year and whoever lost should not challenge the outcome of the polls.
Tsvangirai won the first round of the 2008 presidential election but did not garner enough votes to secure an outright victory.
A poll conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute last month commissioned by NewsDay showed that if elections were conducted on the day the poll took place, the MDC-T would win 32% of the vote while Zanu PF would garner 18%.
The smaller Zapu and MDC-M parties would win 6% and 1% of the vote respectively.
Mugabe has been on a drive calling for elections next year and is reported to have instructed Finance minister Tendai Biti to budget $200 million for polls in the forthcoming 2011 National Budget due to be presented before the end of the year.
Turning to the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act that has been a source of discomfort for most investors, Tsvangirai said government would implement the law gradually and without forced sales.
“Remember, it’s willing buyer, willing seller.
There’s no expropriation. What’s being implemented are minimum thresholds. You can’t start with 51%. But you also have to say how, over time, you are going to achieve the maximum threshold,” Tsvangirai was quoted in the South African media as having said.
He appealed for the international community to be patient with the reforms that were being put in place to address the challenges the country is facing.
“But that is the reality of the political situation in Zimbabwe today. There is this process of conciliation. Discussions are taking place to build confidence in the security forces,” said Tsvangirai.
“It’s easy now to forget the madness and what was done to our country and its enormous prospects.
Only in 2009 did the inclusive government begin to rebuild and restore. “Prior to this, growth was substituted by looting and inflation destroyed pensions and even lives.”