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Tsvangirai’s trips crucial for Zimbabwe’s recovery

ZIMBABWE has gone through a lot of challenges which include hyperinflation, high HIV/Aids infection rates, the fastest shrinking economy on the planet, closed schools, and collapsing health and social welfare systems. All the above were threatening the very survival of a country that once was very vibrant and promising.

The advent of the inclusive government brought some form of stability and hope to the country which many had written off completely. Most importantly Morgan Tsvangirai was at the centre of this process of bringing about change supported by Arthur Mutambara and other foot soldiers in the revolution.  The people of Zimbabwe are beginning to see a glimpse of a normal political system in the form of a coalition or alliance of former bitter rivals.

Some have branded Tsvangirai Robert Mugabe’s errand boy for the removal of the sanctions against the country but this view is as nonsensical as the people who are supporting it. What is at stake in Zimbabwe today is the survival of a country that has vast potential to rescue itself with initial support from outside countries.
Tsvangirai’s overseas trips are just meant to achieve that very important objective and the fruits of his visits abroad will soon be realised a few months or years down the line.
First, it was important that someone of the PM’s stature and position went abroad to re-establish the good relations Zimbabwe once enjoyed with the international community during the honeymoon days of our Independence. Second, having rescued Zimbabwe from the jaws of a failed state, Tsvangirai needed to go further and approach willing members of the international community to support the inclusive government financially.
It is encouraging to see a Zimbabwean leader being welcomed abroad with the grandeur and embrace that is normally accorded to other so–called democratic members of the international community. Zimbabwe deserves a place in international fora in view of what we once stood for and the progress we once registered in the fields of education and health in Africa.
However, it is worrying that the response of the international community has not been rapid enough in view of the desperation of the Zimbabwean situation. What we are hearing these days are warm words of encouragement, support and solidarity but none of these have translated into tangible results except for a few handouts here and there.
What Zimbabwe needs today apart from the very urgent humanitarian aid is tangible action and commitments such as balance-of-payments support, opening of lines of credit to the private sector, manufacturing sector revival, technical assistance in agriculture and telecommunications, debt relief and a moratorium on loan repayments, trade and investment, joint ventures in mining, forestry and construction as well as acceptance into trading arrangements such as Nepad, Agoa, London and Paris Donor Conferences and IMF and World Bank programmes.
It is understandable that we are meeting obstacles towards achieving some of the above objectives. These include conditionalities such as reforming our land policies as suggested by Angela Merkel, reforming the legal system with a view to improving human rights, constitutional reform, stopping fresh farm invasions, restoring the rule of law and a free press.
It is within our control to improve on most of the issues cited by potential financial backers as contentious and needing urgent change. Again, it was important for Tsvangirai to go abroad and express commitment towards achieving the above changes and the need for the international community to consider supporting Zimbabwe now instead of waiting for Mugabe’s departure before aid can be given.
It is true that Tsvangirai has a Herculean task to convince the West and to push for more reforms back home against the background of a very defiant group of Zanu PF politicians who view him (and Mugabe) as sell-outs.
There is no other way that this country can be turned around without convincing the international community that Zimbabwe has now returned to the fold and needs support.

Crisford Chogugudza,

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