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Zimbabwe PM Defends Attending U.S Democratic Convention

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has denied abandoning a critical principals’ meeting in Harare to attend the three-day Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, USA, amid accusations by Zanu PF that he “favors foreign interests ahead of national issues.”

President Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba is quoted in the state-controlled Herald newspaper saying the 'abandoned’ meeting was meant to tackle the constitution-making process and other critical issues.

“It is clear where the priority of the MDC-T president lies. He values his spectator status in front of the mini-drama of the Democratic Party than he does issues to do with the future of his country.”

But Mr. Tsvangirai told the VOA that Charamba has always tried to make "his role in the country personal, and portray an image which has nothing to do with my objectives in the politics of the country."

He added: “On the question of abandonment, if the same accusations were to apply – President Mugabe left for the Non-Aligned Movement a week ago when the draft constitution was out and he did not even explain when we were going to meet.

“I told him I was going to be away for a week and he was going to be away for a week ... so who has abandoned what?”

The Prime Minister - the only top high ranking political leader from Africa invited to the three-day Democratic National Convention – said he is pushing forward despite the “intransigence of Zanu PF to reverse a constitutional process that they have endorsed.”

Critics say considering that the U.S is in an election mode, the prime minister should have either stayed away or sent a representative so as not to show allegiance to one political party.

But Mr. Tsvangirai rejected this idea saying he did not attend the convention to endorse President Barack Obama but had been invited to experience the U.S political system at a convention.

“I have not been given a platform where I have said I am endorsing the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. We work with both,” said Mr. Tsvangirai.

The former opposition leader, who teamed up with Mr. Mugabe to set up a coalition government following years of political clashes between his Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu PF, denied serving foreign interests noting that his party is trying to engage the international community to promote Zimbabwe.

“I have demonstrated over the last year the diplomatic inroads we have made. We have even engaged some of the people who thought we were their enemies. The idea is that Zimbabwe is not an island and should be part of the family of nations.”

He said he has learnt a lot from this U.S visit, especially about development and democratic processes, public participation and policy formulation.

“... One of the issues I observed is the extent of ideological and policy differences between the two major parties in the United States and the way people tried to convince the rest of the population to support them.”