24 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Urges Mugabe Dialogue

OPPOSITION MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called for dialogue with his rival amid increasing concern over the country's economic problems which he said President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party were incapable of addressing.

Speaking in Harare Friday on the state of the country's economy, the former premier warned that Zimbabwe faced a tough 2014 and proposed dialogue to stop what his party describes as a real risk of the economy regressing to the mayhem of the years before the 2008 disputed vote.

Supporters packed the conference centre at the Rainbow Towers hotel for the address which was also attended by a handful of foreign diplomats, civil society activists and the MDC-T party's leadership.

Tsvangirai warned that Mugabe and his Zanu PF party were ready to "burn the house down".

"We cannot let them do that that," he declared.

"If these people (Zanu PF) had a clue as to how to go about resolving the national problems then we would have probably given them the benefit of doubt and let them try. But they do not have the faintest of ideas.

"We realised that we are part of this ship that will ultimately sink with all of us inside. We have a situation where those in government are ready to burn down the house in the hope of killing a rat but with every one inside."

Tsvangirai agreed to form a coalition government with Mugabe to help save the economy after the 2008 elections in a process facilitated by the regional SADC grouping.

The MDC-T has always complained that the power-sharing deal heavily favoured Mugabe who also refused to implement key provisions relating to reforms that would help ensure free and fair new elections.

On Friday Tsvangirai said he was open to a new dialogue with his rival but insisted he would not be cheated again.

"It is important to appreciate that the underlying cause of our current predicament is the disputed election," he said.

"The solution is unconditional dialogue. But that dialogue must be cognizant of the inherent mistrust created by Zanu PF in the days of the inclusive government.

"Of concern is, even if an agreement is arrived at, who is going to guarantee its implementation? But there is no doubt that our situation demands sincere dialogue by a broad section of stakeholders, from political parties to the church, labour, industry, students and civic society, among others.

"Some of us have been involved in dialogue before in order to save this country and we appreciate the importance of dialogue. Despite disappointment (with the 2009 coalition deal) we are of the firm belief that dialogue is the only way out for this country to move forward and return to the family of nations."

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