Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009 19:07 UK

Abuses in Zimbabwe 'still go on'

By Karen Allen
BBC News, Johannesburg

Zimbabwe PM Morgan Tsvangirai addresses the MDC convention in Harare. Photo: 30 May 2009
Mr Tsvangirai showed no sign of straying away from the coalition

Zimbabwe's prime minister has set out a bleak assessment of the pace of democratic change in what was once one of Africa's most prosperous nations.

Morgan Tsvangirai said the society for which his supporters were striving bore little resemblance to the reality.

He said political intimidation and rights abuses continued in Zimbabwe.

Mr Tsvangirai was speaking at an annual convention of his MDC party, which is part of a power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe.

'Responsibility without authority'

The MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) convention is an annual event but it is the first time that Mr Tsvangirai's party has found itself part of the power-sharing deal, which has now survived more than 100 days.

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for close to 30 years

Addressing more than 1,000 delegates sporting red party T-shirts, the prime minister admitted the MDC had not yet succeeded in restoring the rule of law, warning that people were still hungry and afraid of political persecution.

Although his party is now part of the government, commentators have warned that the MDC has responsibility without authority.

The party complains that it has been undermined by President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party on a number of issues, in particular the unilateral reappointment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono.

The MDC and many in the international community see this as a stumbling block to rehabilitating the country's shattered economy.

Nevertheless, Mr Tsvangirai showed no sign of straying away from the coalition, saying it was the work of the MDC in government that had helped to bring the country back from what he called a truly national disaster.

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