Don't make Mugabe "devil", Tsvangirai "angel" – Mutambara

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – The world must unite behind a new unity government in Zimbabwe and help rebuild the shattered country, Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of the opposition MDC, said on Saturday.\r\n

"We are asking for the international community to support this agreement, support this government without equivocation and help us try to salvage our country," Mutambara told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.

"It’s not for Britain or America to judge our agreement, Your job as America or Britain is to support what we try to do," he said. "All the sceptics must now shut up and support what Zimbabweans want. Listen to us as Zimbabweans."

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced the decision on Friday to join a government with President Robert Mugabe, ending deadlock that deepened a political and economic crisis.

Under the agreement, Tsvangirai will become prime minister, with Mugabe remaining as president. Mutambara, who was arrested last year for criticizing Mugabe’s handling of the March 2008 elections, said he will become deputy prime minister.

The United States has voiced scepticism over the deal, saying implementation is key and that aid would come only when a representative government was in place.

"This agreement is a flawed arrangement. It is imperfect. But it is the best short-term answer to provide a platform to extricate our country from its worst crisis," Mutambara said.

Mutambara, a former student leader who is recognised as one of Africa’s most prominent scientists, said the world had a tendency to simplify the Zimbabwe crisis and see Mugabe as a "devil", to Tsvangirai’s "angel".   

"There is no devil and there is no angel. There are two political parties. There are two political leaders," he said.

"Let’s forget our political differences and think about Zimbabwe’s national interests, let’s try to work together to salvage our economy, to salvage our business," he said.

The once-prosperous southern African country’s economy is in ruins, with half the population needing food aid and inflation at 231 million percent last July, the latest official figure.

The continent’s deadliest cholera epidemic in 15 years has killed 3,100 people and infected another 60,000.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, also attending the Davos meeting in Switzerland, urged world leaders on Saturday to help rebuild Zimbabwe. As he passed Mutambara in the corridor, he told him: "Congratulations on the decision."

Mutambara called for aid to rebuild the country, but said investment was even more important, saying he had been approached by businessmen meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort.

"There is a lot of appetite to be involved in Zimbabwe in Davos," he said. "People want to be involved in Zimbabwe, not for charity, but for economics."

"Our foundation is very strong. Our fundamentals are very robust," he said, noting that Zimbabwe was rich in natural resources, like platinum, gold and uranium, while its people were also very well educated by African standards.