Tsvangirai confident the West will help Zimbabwe
HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) – Zimbabwe's new prime minister said Tuesday he does not trust longtime President Robert Mugabe but he does trust Mugabe's commitment to their new power-sharing agreement.
In an wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Morgan Tsvangirai also said he believes the international community will rally to help end Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis, which has spawned hyperinflation and sent thousands fleeing into neighboring South Africa every day.
"This is the beginning of building the necessary confidence for investment and aid. We are confident that we will be able to lay the groundwork for encouraging people (investors and aid agencies) to come to the country," he said.
Tsvangirai said his priorities were to get food to hungry Zimbabweans, to build a more democratic society and free the media.
He was also asked if he trusted Mugabe.
"Ask me a generic question and I say ‘No’ because of the experience I have had with him," he responded. "(But) I trust he is committed to this agreement, I trust he wants this deal as much as we do. He wants to move forward because it is part of his legacy."
Wary Western leaders say they are waiting for the new government that was installed Monday to prove its commitment to democracy.
U.S. Ambassador James McGee told the AP that the United States is adopting a "very careful wait-and-see stance" about the power-sharing agreement that has Mugabe ceding some power to his opposition rival.
"If this works out the way Mr. Tsvangirai hopes it will, we will be very willing to work with the people of Zimbabwe," McGee said.
McGee said the United States was committed to doing the one thing Tsvangirai has requested _ "taking care of food insecurity problems" of Zimbabwe’s people.
The International Red Cross estimates more than 2 million people are hungry in Zimbabwe, and that the number is going to rise to 5 million, about half the country’s population, by the end of the year.
The country’s political crisis has also created the world’s worst inflation _ at nearly 11 million percent.
"We will step forward, we have food in country, in the region and food on the high seas destined for Zimbabwe," the U.S. envoy said.
McGee added that Zimbabwe’s new government needed to ensure that nongovernment organizations have access so they can deliver the food. Only last week, Mugabe lifted a monthslong ban on organizations delivering food aid, after accusing them of favoring the opposition.
Tsvangirai, a former opposition leader who has been tortured, repeatedly detained and endured a treason trial with a death sentence hanging over his head, said he faced a whole range of emotions during Monday’s signing ceremony.
"People have traveled this long road," Tsvangirai said. "In this conflict of emotions, should we celebrate or restrain ourselves because of the uncertainty of the future?"
Tsvangirai himself decided to focus on the future.
"(I was) really moved by the mood of the people and the hope that is in the people," he said.