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Zimbabwe’s Opposition MDC Leader on Democracy After Mugabe

The leader of Zimbabwe’s Main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai says removing President Robert Mugabe does not necessarily mean entrenching democracy in the country. He said it was important first to deal with the political culture of abuse and corruption as a way of setting the country back on the right track. Tsvangirai, who is currently in Australia to visit his family, adds that Zimbabweans would prefer giving Mugabe amnesty as a way of moving on with their lives.

Meanwhile, some political analysts say Tsangirai’s Australia visit plays squarely in the hands of Mugabe who had accused the opposition of being stooges of the west.

Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean political analyst with the International Crisis Group In South Africa. From the capital Pretoria, he shares with reporter Peter Clottey his views on Tsvangirai’s pronouncement.

“Zimbabwe would undergo successive sort of transition, and it is always important to note that the removal of Mugabe is not the be it end all of entrenching democracy in Zimbabwe. We don’t have to underestimate the influence of Robert Mugabe’s role. Also you don’t have to underestimate that the meltdown or the collapse in Zimbabwe has become synonymous with Mugabe’s role. So it is just the first stage of a very long process of returning Zimbabwe towards economic recovery and entrenching democracy,” Masamvu noted.

He said President Mugabe has established a way of life many Zimbabweans have come to live with for over two decades of his rule.

“ZANU-PF or the Mugabe leadership has become a culture, a way of doing things, which you really need to debunk as you try to get Zimbabwe on a course correction. Merely removing Mugabe without re-visiting the whole foundation of a system, which has been entrenched over a 27-year rule is amounting to doing nothing really to get Zimbabwe up and above,” he said.

Masamvu agrees with some political analysts’ assessment that Tsvangirai’s Australia trip enforces Mugabe’s assertion that Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders are agents of the west.

“I tend to agree with you that right now the diplomatic ball is within the African continent, more so within the sub-region. It’s critical and it’s important to highlight the issue of Zimbabwe’s collapse and the crisis to the west and to all the international capitals in the world. I think it’s more of preaching to the converted, when you look at the west they really like to sympathize with opposition forces in Zimbabwe,” Masamvu pointed out.

He said the Zimbabwe opposition stands a chance of having a significant impact if it has one voice.

“I think right now the opposition should galvanize and expend their efforts in pushing for a diplomatic approach in repackaging their message,” he said.

With some former African leaders currently facing prosecution for one reason or the other, Masamvu regrets African countries have not made it attractive for their presidents to retire.

“I think any progressive force in Zimbabwe sees that it’s a small price to pay for Robert Mugabe to retire gracefully and give him his peace and allow the country to move forward. I know given the background of what happened in Zambia, past president in Malawi, the Charles Taylor issue. There is this perception that most of the sitting presidents feel very strongly about leaving office when there are threats of persecutions, threats of being hurled before the International Criminal Court and so forth,” Masamvu said.