PM will speak to exiles in London

LONDON – HUNDREDS of Zimbabweans will mass at a London church on Saturday to listen to a key speech by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Prime Minister is expected to tell Zimbabwean exiles it may be time to return home and join the rebuilding effort after a 10-year political and economic crisis stemmed only by the establishment of a unity government on February 11.

The Prime Minister will emphasise that the situation is not perfect, but transformation could be expedited if Zimbabwean professionals returned to support the reconstruction effort, an aide said.

Tsvangirai, making his first visit to the UK as Prime Minister, will also sell the unity government with President Robert Mugabe as an imperfect but necessary union in the speech at the Anglican Diocese of Southwark.

In a statement, the church said: “The Diocese of Southwark is closely linked to four of the Anglican Church’s Dioceses in Zimbabwe. It is, therefore, a natural and appropriate venue for Tsvangirai to use. ”

Tsvangirai’s chief secretary Ian Makone has told the MDC party in the UK that the Prime Minister is on government business and will not be engaging in party politics.

Britain is now home to thousands of Zimbabweans – many of them professionals – driven to turn their backs on their country by a decade-long crisis. The new government sees the exiles as a key constituency whose skills are needed as the country lumbers out of recession.

Tsvangirai, accompanied by a ministerial team of Walter Muzembi (Tourism), Elton Mangoma (Economic Planning and Investment Promotion) and Priscilla Misihairabwi (Regional Integration and International Co-operation) arrives in London on Friday for talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and senior government officials.

The Prime Minister is on a world tour to drum up support for the fledgling unity government but has so far received little direct support for the government. In stops in Holland, the United States, Germany and Sweden, Tsvangirai has bee told his government needs to carry out more democratic reforms before government-to-government aid is restored.