No going back on Zimbabwe unity govt, says Tsvangirai

Tsvangirai formed a coalition government with old rival Mugabe last February, after months of wrangling over the power-sharing deal they signed last September, in a bid to end years of political and economic upheaval in Zimbabwe.

Although some aspects of the agreement are yet to be concluded, Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at a rally in Chinhoyi, 115 kilometres (72 miles) west of Harare, that he was working well with Mugabe towards implementing the deal.

"There’s no reverse on the inclusive government. There will be insults, but we will get there. We have one project, which is the inclusive government. It has specific policies and specific targets, which is to pull this country out of the quagmire," Tsvangirai said.

"We respect each other, although we may disagree. There’s nothing Mugabe does without me approving and there is nothing I do without him approving."

The MDC is still pushing for the finalisation of outstanding issues in the power-sharing pact, including the senior government appointments to positions of central bank governor and attorney-general.

Tsvangirai has recently protested against Mugabe’s decision to strip an MDC minister of the key telecommunications portfolio, which he handed to an ally from his ZANU-PF party.

The MDC leader repeated his calls for national reconciliation after years of political violence, which his party says cost the lives of hundreds of supporters at the hands of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. Tsvangirai himself was brutally assaulted while in police custody in March 2007.  

"There is need for reconciliation, although we heavily attacked and insulted each other," he said, to some jeers of disapproval from a section of supporters in the crowd.

"In 1980 (at independence) we said let’s forgive each other, we should not take the law into our own hands."

Tsvangirai also called for an end to recent farm invasions, saying further disruptions of agricultural activity would hold back the government’s efforts to rescue the battered economy.

"On the land issue, let us distinguish criminal activity and land reforms. We are not going to accept chaos on agric land, theres need for peace and stability," Tsvangirai said.

Zimbabwe’s government has said it needs $8.3 billion in financial aid to fix its economy, but most donors have insisted on more reforms and the full implementation of the political deal.

Years of hyperinflation and economic contraction, blamed on Mugabe’s policies such as the seizure of land from white farmers to resettle landless blacks, have left about half of the country’s population surviving on food aid.