Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai arrived in Nairobi Thursday at the invitation of Kenyan leader Raila Odinga, a strong ally of Zimbabwe’s former opposition party.
The Zimbabwean premier delivered a hard hitting speech at Mr. Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement’s convention Friday noting similarities between the two countries’ political histories – from the liberation struggle to the current democratic transition.
The Kenyan Prime Minister was himself a guest at the Movement for Democratic Change’s national congress last year where Mr. Tsvangirai described him as “a beloved brother, comrade, an icon and friend of our struggle.”
The two leaders have a lot in common. They both became prime ministers in power sharing governments as a result of disputed and violent elections in their respective nations.
Mr. Tsvangirai’s aides said the two leaders met earlier in the day before heading to Mr. Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement’s convention.
The Zimbabwean premier told the gathering that Zimbabwe and Kenya have in recent years been used as “guinea pigs and political experiments in the resolution of Africa’s stubborn history of national conflicts manifested by a refusal to respect the will of the people after an election.”
He urged Kenyans to hold peaceful elections and warned residents of the East African country against electing leaders who want to assume power without any vision.
“I believe what we have gone through has left an indelible mark in the manner in which we should handle our political affairs. We patiently went through the most difficult, post-colonial and generational transitions spawned by the reality of black-on-black oppression and, by extension, black-on-black violence.”
Mr. Tsvangirai said Africa now needed a new crop of leaders who listen to the people and deliver socio-economic transformation.
“In the case of Zimbabwe and Kenya, our economies and the quality of life for our people were once the pride of Africa. I can safely say if it was not for political confusion, greed and avarice our two nations could have easily been part of the newly industrialised world today,” he said.
The premier said Africa is endowed with an excellent reservoir of natural resources and for that reason remains the envy of much of the world.
He noted that “we must guard these assets jealously ensuring that their exploitation is for national development rather than for the enrichment of the few in privileged positions.”
Mr. Tsvangirai pledged to work hard to strengthen the relations between the MDC and ODM and the two nations.
He is also expected to engage Kenya’s business community during his short visit with a view to enhance economic co-operation between the two countries.