I was not sent by Robert Mugabe – Tsvangirai

MARONDERA – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday dismissed claims he was assigned by President Robert Mugabe to undertake his recent international tour in order to canvass for international aid or to negotiate for the removal of any sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai said he had instead undertaken the eight nation trip to redefine Zimbabwe’s foreign policy, following a decade of isolation caused by Mugabe’s policies of confrontation.

“I did not go to look for money but to build relations which were lost in the last 10 years,” said Tsvangirai of his tour of the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway the United Kingdom and France.

“You can’t just go and say, ‘Give me money’ without first building friendships.”

Tsvangirai was addressing hundreds of his  party supporters who braved the chilly weather to attend the MDC party’s 10th anniversary celebrations held at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on Sunday afternoon.

Tsvangirai said he found it disconcerting that the state media was reporting that he had been sent Mugabe to beg for money in Europe.

“We wanted to redefine the foreign policy of this country, and we achieved that successfully,” he said. “I was not sent by Mugabe.”

He drew thunderous applause when he said: “I, as the Prime Minister, have to make sure that what we decide as cabinet is implemented.”

Tsvangirai said the message from the Western countries whose money the government required to run government business was very clear.

The Western leaders were not interested in rhetoric but want to see real change on the ground before they can commit themselves to giving the country any financial assistance, he said.

“The leaders of the countries I visited told me that they are not interested in what we say but what we do,” the MDC leader said. “It’s up to us to make reforms and get help.”

According to the Ministry of Finance, Zimbabwe requires a total US$ 8,5 billion to fund crucial reforms.

Western donors, key to the revival of the battered economy, have demanded substantial democratic change before they can provide aid to Zimbabwe.

During his trip to Europe and the United States, Tsvangirai managed to raise up to US$500 million but the bulk of the money will be channelled through non-governmental organisations.

Tsvangirai said since there was a unity government between his party, the MDC faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, it was important for the leaders to speak with one voice.

“There is confusion but we should speak with one voice,” he said. “We cannot have discord; we have to communicate a uniform message.”

He admitted, without elaborating, that there were still a lot of problems facing the all-inclusive government.

“There are issues that we are still facing but these can be solved politically,” said Tsvangirai. “Conditions of the GPA must be fulfilled in full and we will do that.

“Eighty percent of the GPA is about giving Zimbabweans the necessary freedoms.”

Tsvangirai blamed the state media for publishing falsehoods about his trip.

“There are some who are still resisting this change but only the will of the people will prevail not even that of individuals or an army,” he said. “There is no greater enemy of Zimbabwe other than those who don’t want the will of the people to prevail.

“The MDC has never had any media. And we have been scolded over the past 10 years. The media might lie but the people know the truth.

“If we are in a government together, then why should we separate and compare who is doing the best? If we are in a national soccer team can you tell which team is the better between Dynamos and Highlanders?

“We want change in the media.”