The leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai hailed the successes of the government of national unity. He however pointed out that there were limitations to what his party could do towards the democratization of Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai who became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe earlier this year was speaking at the opening of his party's two-day annual conference Saturday. He pointed out that despite the problems inherent in coalition governments, which he described as a marriage of convenience, some progress has been made.

"In the 107 days since the formation of the inclusive government the MDC within the government has been instrumental in stabilizing our economy and bringing it back from the brink of truly national disaster. In fact we have been able to bring our rate of inflation from a world record breaking rate of 500 billion percent to minus three percent at the end of March," he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai added that since his party joined, the government schools and hospitals re-opened and food is widely available in the shops. Also, he noted, there has been an increase access by local and international non-governmental aid agencies to the needy.

But he stressed that while his party is participating in the government, there are still factions within the government that are not promoting democratic values. He therefore asked Zimbabweans not to expect change overnight.

"The progress that we have made and are intent on making is being undermined by those that are threatened by the democratic changes contained in the global political agreement," he said. "In addition, despite our party being committed to restoring the rule of law, our members continue to be victims of political persecution. Our goal of restoring fundamental freedoms and human rights is not yet achieved but we are moving in the right direction."

Mr. Tsvangirai also referred to the outstanding issues regarding what he calls the unprocedural appointments of Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana. Mr. Mugabe has been accused of breaching the power-sharing agreement with Mr. Tsvangirai and his MDC party by making these senior government appointments without their input. He is demanding the dismissal of both men. Mr. Mugabe, along with ranking members of his party and the military insist that Gono will stay. The matter has now been referred to the Southern African Development Community, the regional body that underwrote the agreement that brought about the government of national unity.

Mr. Tsvangirai also addressed the chaotic and sometimes violent land reform saying it should empower the majority of Zimbabweans and not be based on what he called racist persecution that leaves the land fallow and Zimbabweans hungry.