Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has urged the world to soften its stance on President Robert Mugabe saying the veteran ruler is critical for a smooth transition of power in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai told the Australian media at the end of his visit on Monday that there was too much obsession with Mugabe, which he said threatened a peaceful solution to problems facing the country.
“There is a paranoid obsession with Mugabe of yesterday and the Mugabe who was part of the 3,5 years of the coalition government,” he said.
“That is progressively — I think part of his pre-occupation with his legacy.
“And part of that legacy is to leave Zimbabwe in a stable and progressive future.”
Tsvangirai criticised former British Cabinet minister Peter Hain for calling for more sanctions on Zimbabwe. Hain told the House of Commons last week that sanctions must be widened not suspended because there was evidence Zanu PF would use money from diamonds to fund electoral violence.
“Now Hain may know the Mugabe of yesterday, and I cannot defend Robert Mugabe’s actions before the coalition government,” Tsvangirai said.
“I was part of that abuse.
“I was part of the state-sponsored violence.
“I was a victim of those things. What we are saying is that the country must move forward and Zimbabweans would like to be given a chance to move forward.”
The EU on Monday resolved to resume direct aid to Zimbabwe, but to maintain the decade-old travel ban and asset freeze imposed on Mugabe and his inner circle until after the referendum on the new constitution. Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi yesterday told journalists in Harare the move by the EU was a non event.
“The statement or the decision by the EU is totally, totally irrelevant and meaningless and as far as the Zimbabwean government is concerned it is a non-event,” he said. Yesterday (Monday) the EU issued a statement in which they demonstrated clearly that they either did not listen to the demand of our delegation or they did not understand us but whatever the case, their statement is just a demonstration of arrogance.”
In May, a delegation made up of the three parties in the inclusive government was sent to Brussels to negotiate for the sanctions to be removed.
Tsvangirai said he preferred the whole sanctions regime to be removed to allow for more reforms. He said he worked well with Mugabe, but accused securocrats of threatening democracy.
“A people’s transition to full democracy (in 2008) was therefore thwarted by a few individuals at the helm of national security institutions who felt their privileges were under threat,” Tsvangirai told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.
“Nothing should ever be allowed to stand in the way of the people’s will and now that we have become a global village, the world should not stand by while gun-toting musketeers instill fear among innocent civilians wishing to elect leaders and political parties of their choice.”
The PM also spoke about Mugabe’s health saying the 88-year-old ruler had confided in him that his frequent trips to Singapore were for check ups on a problematic eye. This year, Mugabe has visited the Asian country twice for medical check up. “Well, the reason why he has been to Singapore is because he has got this cataract in his eye,” he said.
“That’s why he has to go to Singapore for attention. I think every three weeks he has to go there. So he goes there for those checkups. His eyes are not in a good condition.”
Tsvangirai is now in New Zealand.