Tsvangirai opens up on personal life and politics


Q: Prime Minister how do you rate Government performance in 2012?

Tsvangirai and 'Queen' Elizabeth
Tsvangirai and 'Queen' Elizabeth

PM: A major milestone this Government has achieved is the constitution-making process. The second All stakeholders conference we had made the process irreversible. We also launched the Medium Term Plan (MTP) and other various social interventions we did as Government in health, education and water.

By the end of the year we look back and say we have succeeded in dealing with the water situation in most urban centres. The Mtshabezi pipeline has started supplying water to residents in Bulawayo and this is another milestone we are happy about. We had a very good engagement drive with the international community.

We went to the Asian-Pacific, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and I think Zimbabwe’s position was well received in so far as the inclusive Government was concerned. For the first time we were invited to China and the general impression was that we were making progress and that the country was not deteriorating further to a failed State.

We were making progress on the economic front but one thing that has become an international concern is the indigenisation law but generally the interest in the country was greatly enhanced. If we are able to resolve some of these hygiene issues this country will be on a very strong positive trajectory.

Q: Other positives…?

PM: With a narrow budget and very restricted fiscal space, the Ministry of Finance demonstrated that with the little means that we had we managed to sustain Government operations.

I think the issue of the relaxation of restrictions on technical assistance to Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), debt restructuring and the continued consolidation of the macro-economic situation were positive developments.

We implemented the ICT policy, which saw the whole country being wired up with mobile access. In the health sector we saw the setting up of cancer centres in Harare and Bulawayo. In education, we had Grade 7 results announced way before Christmas and it is an achievement.

Tsvangirai and 'Queen' Elizabeth
Tsvangirai and 'Queen' Elizabeth

On roads under the Government Work Programme (GWP) there is the resurfacing of the Plumtree-Mutare road.

A lot of major activities are taking place. If you go to other critical interventions, the ministry of Energy has made efforts to find a solution to the Chisumbanje ethanol plant dispute, the issue of Government intervening to protect the Save conservancy against what maybe concluded as a bad-boy image for the country.

Internationally the diamond issue seems to be near resolution and what is required now is greater transparency in accounting for the proceeds to the fiscus.

Q:What were some of the challenges in 2012?

PM: The challenges we faced largely arose from policy discord especially around indigenisation. It would appear the Government was split with Zanu PF going with its so-called indigenisation plan which scared away investors.

The policy discord affected investor confidence in the country because of the manner the indigenisation plan was implemented. It created so much discord. We hope the nation will be able to set the real priorities when we come to economic empowerment, which we all subscribe to.

In the MDC we have always not been happy about the selective application of the law mirrored by the Glen View activist arrests and denial of bail. The perception that there is the selective application of the law does not bode well for a government that is trying to instill a sense of rule of law.

Q: What is in store for 2013?

PM: I think the country can only go from strength to strength if we are able to deal with our hygiene issues of politics. I am sure our country will be on a very positive trajectory economically and that is the growth we are all looking for, increasing the cake in order for us to share it.

My focus is to increase the cake, increase the potential economic growth that is there and that will enhance internal distribution of wealth.

Q: Is this cake only confined to the economic issues?

PM: No. It involves even the democratic cake. It means the people are freer and enjoy the same rights countrywide. The constitution will, for the first time, provide greater freedom and space for people to pursue their own individual dreams and opportunities. It is a positive thing for the country.

Q: How far have you gone with other issues such as security sector realignment?

PM: We are going to have a meeting of the National Security council before the end of year. As you know we have not been able to meet for the past six months for various reasons.

We will receive reports of what has happened over the last six months and also define in clear terms what is the role of the security sector in the forth-coming election. We need to have an agreement because first and foremost we have the GPA, which defines how State organs should behave.

We also have the Constitution, the Defence Act and the Police Act which define specifically how these institutions should behave and above all we need to comply with the Sadc guidelines on how to conduct free and fair elections.

These are matters that we should be in a position to discuss without acrimony because there sometimes is a tendency, given what statements have been issued, to be negative but definitely everyone should try to find a positive solution to have these institutions behave as expected at law.

Q: How are you going to deal with violence?

PM: Firstly, I want to state the commitment of the Principals to ending violence. Judging by what I discussed with the President and what he said to Cabinet, its basically to say we do not want violence. I think this has become a consistent message. Do people believe the President, I do not know.

Given the characteristics of our previous elections that have been characterised by violence, I think people have a justifiable reason to be afraid of the forthcoming elections.

We need to embark on a reassuring agenda. We will be addressing the press before end of year about the same thing, about how we have to conduct ourselves, that we need free campaigning.

Let the people of Zimbabwe choose, why should we always be under scrutiny by the international community on how we behave during elections. It is time we demonstrated the political maturity that has been put on a test by working together in the inclusive Government. Let us set those standards.

Secondly, we have Jomic that monitors and acts on violence. We are hoping to expand Jomic so that we have all the political actors that will be involved in the election so that we all agree on what standards to set. Thirdly, the police have an obligation to maintain and restore law and order without fear or favour.

From now on we have to categorically state that whoever violates the rights of the people must be prosecuted. The violence perpetrated in the last election is totally unacceptable and we want the police to do their work professionally. We believe the church also has an obligation to ensure that there is peace in the country.

Going around the country for prayer meetings this year gave me the feeling that we should not only talk about peace but we should act peacefully. The church has an obligation to ensure peace. Incidents of violence violate not only the physical beings but also the people’s spirits.

Q: How do you rate your party going into the watershed elections?

PM: The MDC is in a very good shape. I saw it for myself when I went around the 12 provinces. The party has very serious momentum. People are determined to complete the struggle they started 13 years ago. I am happy with the state of the party and the commitment is there.

We always emphasise that power is institutional and not for an individual. We do not put forward the individual but the collective will of the party and I am happy with that. The leadership is united. We are working as a team and even the people are happy that the leadership is united.

Q: What is your thrust going forward?

PM: The coming election will be issue based. It is about who is going to provide a clear vision for the future. For me the challenge is not about President Mugabe and Zanu PF failures which are well known and well documented but it is about the MDC talking about its specific plans, and its vision. What are the policies and programmes of the MDC to take this country forward?

Q: Do you have that clear vision?

PM: We do have a clear vision. We are very clear to build a modern, democratic and developmental State that respects the people’s wishes, not to cover up for the failures of the State but to ensure that the administration facilitates for people to achieve their dreams.

We recently launched, the Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Environment (Juice). Juice is a comprehensive jobs plan because we believe that the critical social question we face is unemployment. People are being educated and yet there is no industry to absorb them. This is very frustrating for the young population.

They are disillusioned and we need to come up with a response mechanism which focuses on the creation of jobs, revival of industries, infrastructure rehabilitation, agriculture, foreign direct investment, ensuring that the skills level we have in the country are enhanced and that will create a absorption capacity for the unemployed in this country.

Q: Are structures ready for elections and to govern?

PM: The resounding conviction is that we are ready not only for elections but to govern. They are ready and I am happy too.

Asked about how his personal life had panned out in 2012, Tsvangirai gave this reaction:

PM: I am glad that I have found someone I love. I am very happy and positively looking forward to 2013.

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