Tsvangirai has been assailed by pro-Mugabe state media for his refusal to sign a “sanctions petition” launched by Zanu PF in Harare last week.
Zanu PF blames sanctions by the European Union and the United States for fuelling the country’s economic crisis over the last decade.
When Mugabe agreed to share power with his opposition rivals in 2008, the new ruling coalition partners agreed to campaign for sanctions to be lifted – and Tsvangirai says he did his bit.
“There has been speculation on my position as Prime Minister on the issue of sanctions. We should not attempt to score cheap political points over issues that are clear,” Tsvangirai told an investment conference in Harare on Tuesday.
“We agreed in the GPA [Global Political Agreement] that we would all work towards normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.
“For the record, I was the first person to engage Europe and the United States, at the expense of my political reputation at home and abroad, to convince them that Zimbabwe had turned the corner since the formation of the inclusive government. I tried to assure them that we would stick to our own agreement and that the culture of violence and impunity had long gone.”
But Tsvangirai says to his disappointment and that of the western countries responsible for the sanctions, “I was later to find out that I was wrong and that while we all wanted the sanctions lifted, some did not want to let go of the culture of violence that had brought these measures in the first place.”
He added: “The US and the EU were sceptical and had concerns over continued human rights abuses and non-implementation of the GPA.
“Suffice to say that while some of us were working hard to normalise relations, there was a deliberate effort by some players to ensure that we failed to implement other agreed obligations as enshrined in the GPA on matters such as the cessation of hate speech, state sponsored violence, media reforms and the culture of impunity, among others.”
He said: “No section in the GPA is more important than the other, and we must invest the same effort on sanctions as we invest in other important issues such as media reforms, non-violence and respect for the rule of law if we are to build a safe environment for business and investment.
“It is difficult to convince the world that you have turned the corner when others are perpetuating the same culture of violence in the countryside; the same culture and behaviour that brought us where we are.”