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Transcript: Exclusive Interview with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - recently in North Carolina, USA, to attend the Democratic National Convention - sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Voice of America's Violet Gonda. Here is the transcript of their discussion:

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I was invited to participate in the National Democratic Convention as part of the International leadership forum organized by NDI so I’m part of the over 300 international leaders of various levels of government who are participating in this convention.

VIOLET GONDA: I understand that you were the highest ranking African leader to be invited by the Democratic Party to attend this convention.

TSVANGIRAI: It’s true and I am humbled by the fact that I have that recognition but I don’t think that it’s something that is significant. I’m sure that in any of their conventions they do identify which leader to come and grace their occasion.
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GONDA: So what lessons did you learn from the US process?

TSVANGIRAI: Work, process and substance. Process wise, I think that there is a lot that we can learn. You know democracy is not an event. These are institutional developments that have been here for the last 200 years. So our democratic development is a baby, so there is a lot that we can learn in terms of process. How do we ensure that people are participating, how do we formulate policy, how do we increase debate because really it’s about issues it’s not about individuals, so on substance, I think one of the things that you sort of observe is the extent of ideological and policy difference between the two major parties in the United States and the way people try to convince the rest of the population to support them.

GONDA: I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read the newspapers or what’s been said about your visit to America in the state controlled media, for example, the Zanu PF party said you abandoned a critical principles meeting to attend this convention and presidential spokesman George Charamba said that this is a clear example that shows you favour foreign interests ahead of national issues. What can you say about this?

TSVANGIRAI: Well, I don’t like to be personal to George; he has chosen to make my role in the country personal and to portray an image which has nothing to do with my objective in government, my objective in the politics of the country. Firstly the question of abandoning, well, if the same accusation 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 because I told him I’ll be away for a week, he was going to be away for a week - so who has abandoned what? And as far as the second part about ‘serving foreign interests’, it will be in the same equal measure that President Mugabe in attending the Non-Aligned Movement, is he serving foreign interests? Let’s abandon that. We are all patriots, we are all trying to do our best under very difficult circumstances to push our country forward in spite of the frustrating experiences, the lack of implementation of a GPA, the lack of implementation of those reforms that are necessary and the intransigencies on the part of Zanu PF to reverse a constitutional process that they have endorsed.

GONDA: Considering that the US is in election mode, some say that this is showing allegiance and you should have stayed away because this would potentially affect relations if the Republicans were to win for example. What’s your comment on this?

TSVANGIRAI: That’s totally out. I did not come here to endorse the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. I came out here to an international forum, as invited, to experience the American political system at a convention. I have not been given a platform where I have said I’m endorsing the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, we work with both.

GONDA: How do you respond to critics who say you have managed to build some credibility by focusing your advocacy in Africa? But that by you coming to the US you are now providing ammunition to propagandists who would say this is evidence of you being a puppet of the West like what has been said by Mr. Charamba?

TSVANGIRAI: To be honest, I’ve long since taken a position that what George says does not change the direction and destiny of the country either way, it’s his personal view, he can shout and do whatever he wants, I will not even give him a moment of thought. The position is this, we as MDC would like to engage the international community and the international community includes first and foremost Africa, Europe, America, Eastern Europe, Chinese, everyone. And I’ve demonstrated over the last year the diplomatic in-roads we have made even with some of the people who thought we were enemies, we have engaged them. The idea is that Zimbabwe is not an island and that what we are attempting to do is that Zimbabwe should be part of the family of nations. What we are trying to do is to promote the best interests of Zimbabwe and if anyone would come and say that you are undermining the best interests of Zimbabwe, perhaps that would be basis for argument, but the real basis that Zimbabwe needs to be part of family of nations and that’s my objective.

GONDA: You still have others who are saying there is too much globetrotting by government leaders and couldn’t you send some of your deputies, for example, especially as there are pressing matters back home such as the constitutional crisis?

TSVANGIRAI: There’s no constitutional crisis, there is a constitutional impasse which is not the creation of the MDC. Well, every mission has got an appropriate level of delegation and I don’t go to every opportunity that arises. I go strategically to engage at the level that I think is going to be in the long term interest of the country. As for a crisis like the constitution, it will be resolved one way or the other.

GONDA: Let’s talk about this stalemate on the constitution-making-process; do you honestly think President Jacob Zuma’s mediation will work, considering he is only a facilitator?

TSVANGIRAI: At the end of the day, if the three parties agree and have endorsed a certain position, and have signed to a certain position, why should the whole country be held to ransom by one party, and I don’t think it’s fair. It’s acting in bad faith; it’s acting in the partisan interest and not in the national interest. Above all, a constitution is a national document of governance and as far as I’m concerned if there is consensus among the main actors, that should be the basis of moving forward.

GONDA: Many people believe that Zanu PF will not yield to settling with the final draft, so what are the possible scenarios here?

TSVANGIRAI: Well, the possible scenario is that… but of course you have to take into consideration that SADC will not allow a stalemate, SADC will find a way of resolving this impasse - but above all, it would have been better for Zimbabweans to find common cause which we thought we had arrived at when we signed the document after a very painstaking three and a half years of work and after so much resources were put in this exercise.

GONDA: Your party has said you will not dialogue any more on the final draft constitution, and you have stated your position. So what other options are there besides waiting for SADC or external countries?

TSVANGIRAI: Well, we have not met at principles, we want to hear what justification President Mugabe has for his party to go and overhaul the whole constitutional process that he had signed to and until such a time that he is clear about it and we have made our position clear, one cannot talk of an end. I’m sure that down the line the constitution will go to the people. They are the final arbiters on the constitution. They are the ones that made the input and they are the ones who will have the final say.

GONDA: Are you in a catch 22 situation here because, doesn’t the Global Political Agreement (GPA) say that in the event that you fail to agree on anything, either party can call an election?

TSVANGIRAI: No, there is no such thing, you have read our GPA very well, there is no clause like that. There is no clause first of all on any party to exercise veto power and secondly there is no clause in the GPA which allows a party to take unilateral action against another party. So no party has got the right to call an election, no party has got the right to single-handedly determine anything, that’s why the principals have to meet to decide the next step. If that was the case, the whole constitutional edifice upon which this GPA was built would collapse.

GONDA: You said the principals have to meet and decide on the next step, but you have been meeting for a very long time and it seems that there is no solution to this problem. Surely you… (interrupted)

TSVANGIRAI: That’s why even the disagreements, the implementation deficits that are there, we have noted them, we have brought them to the attention of SADC, and SADC has said we need full implementation. Obviously there is no way that anyone can have the leverage to force a political party to do 1,2,3 things. But as long as we are part of the GPA, we are bound by the 19th Amendment of the constitution which is the basis upon which this GPA is build, so the government has to be managed.

GONDA: Yes, but how Prime Minister? What options do you have as a party? Surely your own party should have a position on this. What is your party’s position?

TSVANGIRAI: Our position is that if there is a consensus to disagree we will disagree and then we will advise SADC on the next steps. If it means that we need now to go to say - an election - then the conditions for elections will now be the next subject of discussion but at the moment we are not talking about elections we are talking about the constitutional process, and until that deadlock is arrived at, I cannot talk of a further step beyond the current constitutional debate.

GONDA: Yes, but the emails we’re getting, the responses we’re getting from our listeners are that people are getting fed up with this long negotiation process.

TSVANGIRAI: They’ll have to be patient. Rome was not built in a day. Remember the position we are coming from, the acrimony, the polarisation and I think that the transition has helped to break down those barriers of suspicion in terms of what the national interests are and pushing forward those things. I’m quite conscious of the fact that people want to go to elections, and we’ll go to an election if that is what it takes for the final resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis so let it be. But it cannot just be a thumb sucking exercise.

GONDA: So will you go to elections without reforms?

TSVANGIRAI: No we can’t! We are saying there are steps and benchmarks that need to be put in place before that election is conducted, or else we’ll reproduce 2008.

GONDA: At the end of the day, isn’t it a fact that reforms are not the problem here and those reforms will only remain on paper and not implemented even if you are to have the reforms.

TSVANGIRAI: No, we have implemented some of them, not all, we have agreed on the Electoral Act, we have agreed on the Human Rights Act, we have put in commission, that’s all part of the reform that are comprehensively going to help create an environment for free and fair elections.

GONDA: Isn’t there an assumption that our problems in Zimbabwe are only about policies and strengthening institutions and reforms - but isn’t it more about our political culture, that as long as there is no shift in political culture, nothing will change?

TSVANGIRAI: Well the transition was intended to achieve that, it was intended to soft line the crisis so that we have a different political culture. Now, having said that, have we achieved a totally different political culture? Certainly it is a process that is going to take time but at least we have set ourselves on a direction in which the democratic credentials of the country will be the basis upon which the future political interaction will be set.

GONDA: Let’s talk about the Freedom House survey. It indicated that public trust in the Prime Minister’s office has considerably gone down. What is your reaction to this?

TSVANGIRAI: I cannot discuss the validity or otherwise of the survey and make it the subject of discussion. I take note of the observations that they’ve made but also I take note of some of the gaps in the survey like for instance, how do you say Zimbabweans now listen to the ZBC more than any other source? How do you now say The Herald is now the most popular newspaper when we know the truth? So all I can say is that yes, we take note of some of the observations. If there is any validity, then it’s up to the MDC to take into consideration and take the corrective measures. We are not dismissing any survey that is covered by anyone, but the real survey Violet, is the people themselves when they go to a vote. You should not be scared of a sample; you should be scared about the outcome of the real national vote, that’s where it counts.

GONDA: But on this survey, if this is what people are saying, has there been a reflection in your party to see what the cause is, because it seems people are …(interrupted)

TSVANGIRAI: … If people just say your support has declined without giving reasons of which area, why and how. We, of course as a party from time to time we reflect on these issues - where is our weaknesses, we always take a strategic review of our situation. We don’t do it because there is a survey; we do it as a regular assessment of the performance of the party outside government, the performance of the party in government, in local authorities. All these matters are matters we regularly check and especially after the survey, we have to say how far true is it. We have to self-introspect and correct it.

GONDA: You say they didn’t give any examples but there are actually quite a few examples that were in this report including widespread corruption by some of your officials - as some of the issues that people had problems with.

TSVANGIRAI: But who is not corrupt? Corruption is something that has been set by Zanu PF and they have not done anything to arrest corruption. We have done something. We have gone in and fired a whole City Council in Chitungwiza; we have done an assessment of all our local authorities because we know. Our people are telling us that these issues need to be addressed so we do an evaluation of delivery in local authorities - and what we have done is to deal with those that have been identified as corrupt. The issue is not that there will be no corruption, even in the United States, anywhere in the world there will be corruption but what we need is - what are you doing about it. That is the real issue.

GONDA: So would you consider leading your party to a lifestyle audit where individuals holding public office are actually assessed in terms of what they earn and the lifestyle that they are living?

TSVANGIRAI: What lifestyle?

GONDA: The other day I interviewed your secretary for local government Sesal Zvidzai and he gave an example of the Mayor of Gweru - who you fired recently - and Mr. Zvidzai gave an example saying that a person who was like a street kid just the other day was now a Mayor, and amassed a lot of wealth including several cars, fancy houses and.. (Interrupted)

TSVANGIRAI: … that’s why we dealt with him.

GONDA: … so this is what I’m saying, that as Prime Minister are you willing to lead an audit to see who has what?

TSVANGIRAI: We are willing to evaluate the performance of ministers and everyone to ensure that we stay within the principles of the party, but we are not going to be on a witch-hunt because a witch-hunt sometimes goes into a subjective area. But as I said the issue is that where we have evaluated and we found that someone is not acting in the best interest, values and principles of the party we deal with that.

GONDA: Well, you mentioned witch-hunt and it seems that some of the people that have been fired by the party are saying that’s exactly what happened. They say they were never called to a disciplinary hearing and that they were not even consulted or interviewed by the committee that investigated the allegations.

TSVANGIRAI: No, no, no. It’s not a question of a disciplinary hearing; we do have our own internal measures. You can’t have a disciplinary hearing in the face of evidence that is overwhelming, you wait until you have a disciplinary hearing to establish what when the facts have been properly established and the men and women themselves have admitted to that indiscretion. What disciplinary hearing, except to make it a bureaucratic delay? We need action and we need to send a clear message that the party will not tolerate that.

GONDA: Another issue that has come up is the quality of some of your public officials, and as I mentioned, one of your deputy ministers described one of the people that was fired as someone who was a street kid before he became a councillor. So what does that say about the quality of some of your officials?

TSVANGIRAI: Look, look, look. We are a young party - popularity sometimes is not a measure of capacity. We have had to revise our standards of selection of Mayors, councillors, MP’s. We have just adopted a new principle out of experience and out of abundance of caution that we would not allow people who by chance just happen to use the popularity and ride on the popularity of the party - just to get to an office without the responsibility to discharge that responsibility. So we have set a new standard and it’s an experience. We have for the first time controlled all the 32 town councils throughout the country and the level of delivery is different from city to city and we have learned that you need to put certain standards that will allow for maturity and for responsibility to apply.

GONDA: The survey was very clear that … (interrupted)

TSVANGIRAI: … please don’t ask me about that survey…

GONDA: … I am not asking about the survey but it was saying your appetite for change in Zimbabwe, as a party, has dissipated - what do you make of that? That public confidence has eroded?

TSVANGIRAI: Let me tell you - the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe are together in a project and we have a clear road map to achieve that project. In 2006 we set out to say we will act to put pressure on Mugabe to come to the negotiating table and we have done that. We will have a transitional government, we have set that up. We will have a new constitution, that’s what we have just concluded. We will have free and fair elections. We will have a referendum. So as far as the defined strategy of the MDC, we are on course, so for people to conclude that we no longer have the appetite, when we are on course, how else can we define the path to that change? And I want to tell you one thing, the people of Zimbabwe are resilient, they want change, they have not withdrawn from that particular objective and the MDC is the party for change.

GONDA: Some observers are saying that the tragic thing is that you took all of your lieutenants into the inclusive government and the party has now suffered because all the ‘drivers of the movement’ are now consumed in doing government business instead of doing party business.

TSVANGIRAI: Well what is government business? Government business is about delivering to the people. It’s another arena of struggle. If you say you should all confine yourselves in throwing stones without necessarily taking those strategic positions to influence policy to understand how the government works, and to help the people deliver on their needs, then I don’t know what kind of leadership that is. I did not take everyone into government, there are people who are out there who have not been a part of the government - and I want to say that for the MDC, it has been a very good learning experience which we’ll find very handy in the future. And also people must not just conclude or expect the MDC to be the only instrument of struggle, there’s the civic society. There are all these people who want change, and all we need is a strong alliance to continue to push that agenda.

GONDA: So do think that perhaps people expect too much from you and that you have too much on your plate?

TSVANGIRAI: Ohh there is even no distinction. The expectation was that MDC was going to create jobs in the coalition, MDC was going to do 1, 2, 3 things - and you know the limitation of a coalition? There’s no consensus on policy, sometimes there is policy discord, sometimes there’s sabotage of things - but let’s measure those things that the coalition government has achieved in terms of stabilizing the economy, in terms of health delivery, education, water, and in terms of general peace in the country. Yes, we may not have delivered jobs because jobs are not created like manna from heaven. Jobs are dependent on what investment you put in place, and what measures you put in place to attract foreign direct investment. So those are measures that would need even further debate.

GONDA: We received complaints, and there are some reports from such publications such as The Daily News saying that the Prime Minister himself seems to be less and less accessible to the local media and we have also been trying to get in touch with you but ever since you became Prime Minister, it’s been difficult.

TSVANGIRAI: Violet, Violet, but you are talking to me, how do you complain that I’m actually excluding you from the interview?

GONDA: But Prime Minister…

TSVANGIRAI: …at home…

GONDA: … can I answer that question because this is something that is of concern to some of us?


GONDA: … yes you’re talking to me now but since you became Prime Minister three or four years ago, this is the first time that I’ve actually had a chance to interview you.

TSVANGIRAI: No, no, no. Let’s be honest. You were studying therefore you were not accessible. At home I have a monthly press briefing. Studio 7 is there at all those monthly briefings.

GONDA: But that is not the same Prime Minister, because even here The Daily News is complaining about this lack of access. Journalists are complaining about this.

TSVANGIRAI: No, no, no…

GONDA: You’ve complained that ZBC does not cover you, for example, and yet the private media is willing to give you space but we are not getting that space. That’s basically what people are complaining about.

TSVANGIRAI: I have never refused anyone an interview and that’s the truth. I’m very accessible, if there are any gatekeepers who prevent me from accessing the media, I’m hearing it for the first time. I think that to a large extend I’m out there in the field with the people, the media is there - and justifiably, I had a reason to raise that about the media and that’s the truth. I am the Prime Minister of the country and for the three and a half years I’ve never appeared on ZBC and that’s the truth. So these matters as far as access Violet, I think what we need is to follow-up and have proper arrangements - but I can tell you, and I want to assure you that I’m very accessible, and Luke my spokesman does everything to make sure we have these monthly briefings, and weekly briefings for ministers, if the ministers do not attend, it’s not the Prime Minister to blame.

GONDA: With all due respect Prime Minister yes, we understand that you hold these monthly press briefings but it’s not enough especially as they can be seen as stage managed. There are very little one to one interviews with you and this is what many journalists are complaining about.

TSVANGIRAI: Well if they are complaining about it, let me go and investigate. I would not deliberately prevent anyone from having access to me. I’m the most accessible person and that you know.

GONDA: Moving on, still on the issue of access. It’s not just people in the media who have complaining about this, one of the emails we received said: “This increasingly reclusive behaviour by the Prime Minister does not make him a man of the people and he needs to be seen more regularly and speaking of the injustices that so badly afflict the nation and the communities.” Do you think this is fair?

TSVANGIRAI: I can understand the anger but I’m not the spokesman. A Prime Minister who speaks every day is a megaphone. I have spokespersons, I have ministers and of course, where matters affect the national interests and habits of the people, I will speak.

GONDA: I guess some people, especially those who are affected, expect more. For example, I was taking to one of the family members of the group of 29 people from Glenview, who are still in custody and she was saying her daughter is still in custody and yet they don’t hear anything from the Prime Minister talking about these injustices

TSVANGIRAI: No, no, no you can’t be talking about that - you take measures. The group of 29 is an issue we are grappling with as a party. The party has spoken, the party is doing the welfare, interventions but the difficult position we face is that this is not a political detention - although we know there are political motives - it’s a criminal. And when you go to a criminal court the abuse of the criminal justice system becomes even more evident, that’s why we want to amend the Criminal Code and Evidence Act which prevents…, and we didn’t even know that there is actually a rule which says that if something happens to the police it will not even allow any bail application. That’s why the matter is before the Supreme Court. So we are doing everything, we know the plight of these 29 and unfortunately we are trapped in this legal process that we need to address. But yes, we do understand, we are intervening as a party, we are responsible for the welfare of the families but we are trapped with this legal hindrance hurdle that we need to overcome.

GONDA: Don’t you think you’ll go to another GNU, and if so, where do you stand on this?

TSVANGIRAI: There is no reason for having another GNU, there is no reason whatsoever if an election is conducted and it’s free and fair. It should produce a legitimate government which should take the country forward, whether it is MDC or Zanu PF. If it’s conducted in a free and fair manner there should be one clear winner who should be able to address the destiny of the country, address the vision of the country address the needs of the country, the future. And there is so much that needs to be done, so I don’t foresee a situation where we have another GNU, for what?

GONDA: We did talk briefly about the issue of policies but how do you respond to people who say they don’t hear any clear expressed policies from the MDC beyond their mantra of ‘democratic change’ and ‘change for better’ and that … (interrupted)

TSVANGIRAI:… oh come on, come on…

GONDA: … they say that Zanu PF is clear on some of these issues like land, indigenisation policies but the MDC is not. How do you respond to this?

TSVANGIRAI: The problem is how do you form a party which is 13 or 14 years old without a vision, without a policy? Do you think it’s just a matter of being anti-Mugabe? No, no, no. People must go to our documentation and must be able to distinct which party policy the party is pursuing. What does it mean when they say they are not hearing? An individual stands up, I was in Japan the other day and a girl stood up and said ‘we are not hearing about your land policy’, and I said have you looked at the policies of the MDC, they are there. You decide yourselves to say there is no policy on land, but I can articulate those policies clearly because I know they are there.

GONDA: But how would you tell that to a family in the rural areas with no access … to read the policy documents online?

TSVANGIRAI: I can understand that but it also means that we go out to the people and explain our land policy to the people, explain what the party stands for, everything. It’s only those people who want to come so we tell them the policies of the MDC in the offices. We have our policies on the website and when we go out to the rural areas we explain our policies clearly. That’s why people have been with us all these years.

GONDA: Can you explain your policy on land for example?

TSVANGIRAI: We believe that land must go to the people and not the politicians. Land must go to the people who need it. We believe that land is a finite resource, then it must be used productively and in order to do that you need to entitle the land so that people can invest in the land. All that is there!

GONDA: And on indigenisation?

TSVANGIRAI: Indigenisation is a Zanu PF policy, it’s not an MDC policy, but we believe in broad based empowerment. We don’t believe in individuals – the Kasukuweres accessing all the resources of the country for themselves and their party. We believe there is a basis for a broad based empowerment policy for Zimbabweans, whether it is in business, whether it is on education, whether it is on land, we believe in a broad based theme. It is Zanu PF which is pursuing the selfish, predatory elitist positions that are not in best interests of the broad mass of Zimbabwe.

GONDA: So how does the MDC plan to address these very real issues?

TSVANGIRAI: They are not real issues unless they are raised by the Zanu PF, hey? They become real issues when they are abused by Zanu-PF for partisan political objectives and not for national interest. If we wanted to have a proper empowerment policy, we should go to the Parliament table, a green paper, people discuss it and then it is implemented by government, but if it becomes a partisan political objective of a few who just want to benefit as if mashuku ari kungo gumwa achi donha pamuti, it’s not the best way to go. So you cannot ask me to articulate a Zanu PF policy. I can only articulate what I believe is the best way to empower people in a broad way and not just an elite group.

GONDA: And what is the MDC’s position on gay rights?

TSVANGIRAI: Look, the question of gay marriages is Zanu PF propaganda, it has nothing to do with MDC. We have said that the question of sexual orientation has nothing to do with everybody. Sexual orientation is for the individual behind their closed doors – it’s got nothing to do with everybody. And if you are talking about human rights, it then becomes an infringement on somebody’s private life and that’s not upholding human rights.

GONDA: But rights’ activists say this final draft that your party has endorsed does not actually protect their rights?

TSVANGIRAI: No, it does, it says freedom of sexual orientation is an individual rights so how else do you want it to be captured?

GONDA: And before we go Mr. Tsvangirai, your wedding is in a few days so I’d like to take this time to congratulate you, Makorokoto.

TSVANGIRAI: Thank you, I thought that is what you should have started with.(laugh)

GONDA: I thought we should end on a good note. (laughs)

TSVANGIRAI: Munoita chivanhu vanhu, munoita majerasi. (laughs)

GONDA: So what have learned, reflecting on the journey you have travelled in your personal life? What are some of the things you would want to share with your supporters in your being able to select a partner for yourself?

TSVANGIRAI: No. no, no these are personal matters, but I just want to say look, I’ve had the misfortune of losing a wife in very sad circumstances and after three years I’ve found somebody I want to marry and I’m in love with and I’m happy with and I’m moving on, on that basis. I’m not the first man to go through that experience, and that’s what I’m looking forward to - to a happy marriage again.

GONDA: What can you say to your supporters who are disappointed that you married the daughter of a man who is accused of brutalising your supporters in Chitungwiza?

TSVANGIRAI: You know, I cannot answer for aMacheka’s actions, and let me tell you one thing, when you’re going out to look for a woman, you don’t ask for a political card or you don’t ask for their parents - you look at the woman and say I love this woman. The children cannot be answerable for their parents’ sins.

GONDA: I understand some of your supporters especially from Chitungwiza actually approached the party to talk about their concerns on this matter and that’s why I’m asking for your reaction.

TSVANGIRAI: Let me tell you one thing, I don’t answer for Mr. Macheka’s misdemeanors. I don’t answer for whatever he has done, it is not justified. Whatever he has done, if people are not happy with it, then they should judge Mr. Macheka and not me. I have met my future wife in totally different circumstances and I’m happy with her. How she’s going to deal with the people of Chitungwiza who are not happy with her father, that’s a different issue. But as far as I’m concerned we have people from different political affiliations who have married across the political divide - and I can tell you the Speaker of the House his wife is the daughter of Zanu PF’s Nyoni, and we can have so many of these. These are personal matters and I’m not accountable, of course, I’m sensitive to my supporters concerns but I cannot stand and start defending something I do not know about. All I know is that I’ve met a woman, I love her and I’m moving forward. If people want to make a judgement of my leadership on that basis then we certainly cannot have that as a yard stick for measuring my leadership on that.

GONDA: You have an option of answering this question because it is your personal life as you said, but I have a duty to ask you as your public figure - given a chance to do this again or a second chance, are there things you would do differently in terms of identifying a partner and what would you avoid?

TSVANGIRAI: It doesn’t arise. I’ve found a partner. The fact that what mistakes I’ve done, whatever, life is about experience. If you were to repeat it, this is even a hypothetical question, if you were to re-live your life, there are certain things that you’d say I made a mistake here and there and you would correct - but unfortunately in life you don’t repeat life.

GONDA: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, thank you for taking time to talk to Voice of America's Studio 7.

TSVANGIRAI: Alright, you’re welcome.