Questions remain about whether attempts at reform, including the new constitution, will guarantee free and fair elections, especially as the security forces are deemed to be loyal to Zanu-PF. Arrests after the recent referendum were “totally unacceptable,” Tsvangirai said.
But while he acknowledged there might be “skirmishes” by local activists, Tsvangirai said he doubted the state-sponsored violence of 2008 would be seen this year. He said the government would create an environment for “free and fair elections” with the help of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.
Financing the election remains an issue for the cash-strapped government. Authorities asked some telecommunications companies to submit license payments in advance to help cover the costs of the referendum, Tsvangirai confirmed. He said the election will be financed by internal resources with some external help.
The controversial Zanu-PF indigenization policy — which requires foreign-owned companies, including mines and banks, to transfer 51 percent stakes to black Zimbabwean entities — chased away much-needed investment, he said.
“We [the MDC] believe in broad-based empowerment policy, not indigenization,” he said. “We need to attract people to the country rather than try to chase people away.”
Tsvangirai admitted there was a lack of transparency in the diamond sector, one that the ministers of finance and mines had been asked to tackle. Global Witness has alleged that diamond revenue provides off-budget financing to security forces controlled by Zanu-PF.
“There is no accountability,” he said. “Eventually Zanu-PF may be siphoning some of the diamond money, but we are not aware of it.” Still, he added, in the context of continued reform, sanctions no longer served a useful purpose.
If Mugabe ever did bow out, he would be able to live out his days in peace, Tsvangirai said. “One would say let sleeping dogs lie. . . . what is important is to ensure that there is stability, because stability is the basis for future progress.”
— Financial Times