12 February 2009
New Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has pledged to rebuild the country, and has called for unity of purpose among its people to help the transitional government deal with the country’s many challenges.
In his first public address since taking up the post, Tsvangirai said there would be no turning back on the political agreement the country’s top political parties had entered into.
“We know it is not a perfect agreement, but it is a workable one,” he said in Harare this week, to the applause of thousands who braved the rain to witness a historic moment for the country.
“It will take time, commitment and unity of purpose to rebuild our country,” he said, warning that without national healing, there could never be progress in confronting the seemingly insurmountable challenges Zimbabwe was facing.
The party leaders are expected to put together a 31-member cabinet by Friday this week, a timeline set for them by the Southern African Development Community, which helped broker the power-sharing deal.
Transitional government goals
Tsvangirai said the transitional government would prioritise democratisation first, deal with the humanitarian crisis, beginning with the cholera outbreak and food crisis, and ensure the rejuvenation of the economy, which was once one of the most robust on the African continent.
“The economic collapse has caused many people to flee the country and seek menial jobs elsewhere, for which they are over-qualified,” he noted, adding that serious efforts would also be made to deal with problems in the health and education sectors.
Tsvangirai further pledged to promote a free and democratic society and rid the government of corruption, adding, however, that this could only be achieved with the support of the region, the African Union and the international community.
In addition, he said that as prime minister, he would ensure the separation of party and government business: “We must look at the problems facing Zimbabweans first,” he said, adding that transparency and openness, beginning with the leadership of the government, would ensure its success.
He added that everyone had to play a part and support the all-inclusive government to ensure that the power-sharing deal signed by President Robert Mugabe and the two MDC factions was a success.
Payment in foreign currency
Tsvangirai said that all civil servants would be paid in foreign currency starting this month, in a move aimed at cushioning workers against hyper-inflation. Civil servants, he said, were the backbone of the government, hence the need for the all-inclusive government to urgently address their concerns.
“By the end of this month, all civil servants will start receiving their salaries in foreign currency until a situation where we are able to sustain ourselves,” he said, adding that most civil servants, including nurses, soldiers and the police, had in recent years stopped going to work as their salaries were not enough to cover their daily needs.
Tsvangirai urged all civil servants, particularly teachers who had stopped working over meagre salaries, to report for work on Monday, as the transitional government would address their needs.