OPPOSITION leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is pleading with the United States to remove sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle.
Tsvangirai, on a whirlwind charm offensive in the US amid dwindling support back home, told the VOA he now wants the restrictions that have been in force for over a decade removed.
“There are two approaches,” Tsvangirai told the radio station domiciled in the US but beams into Zimbabwe daily.
“The United States maintains a hard-line position. The European Union has relaxed it (sanctions), but they have said that the travel ban will still retain on the president and his wife. But everyone else has been removed (from the list).
“So, as far as I am concerned, sanctions must never be used as an excuse for the failure of economic and political policies in the country.
“And that’s why for us, removing these things (sanctions) will actually create a condition where Zanu PF has no excuse forever.”
The Americans, along with the European Union, slapped Mugabe with travel restrictions and an asset freeze following accusations he had rigged the blood-spattered 2002 presidential elections.
Mugabe has blamed the sanctions for the country’s economic collapse, while his critics cite the failure of leadership on the part of the veteran Zimbabwean strongman.
Meanwhile, despite having forced Speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda to fire over 20 legislators who defected to form what is now known as MDC-Renewal, Tsvangirai insisted his party would not participate in elections without reforms.
His position is contrary to that of some senior officials in the party who have indicated the party is willing to vary a congress decision not to take part in polls without reforms.
“In 2013, there was an election that was conducted without the necessary electoral reforms and the outcome has been in dispute,” said Tsvangirai.
“It has caused political paralyses, political stalemate in the country. So we are saying that going into another election without the necessary electoral reforms will just produce the very same conflictual positions that will not take the country forward.”
Following Mudenda’s ruling that the 21 MPs, among them former Finance Minister Tendai Biti, be removed from their parliamentary seats, MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and spokesperson Obert Gutu have indicated the party “might take part in the polls with or without the reforms to defend our turf”.