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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2006, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Zimbabwean crisis?
On Sunday 28 May 2006, Andrew Marr interviewed Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean opposition leader

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean opposition leader

ANDREW MARR: Now, once one of Africa's most productive countries, Zimbabwe is now among the poorest.

We've heard a great deal about the white farmers forced from their land but ordinary Zimbabweans are suffering from intimidation, from poverty, cleared from their homes, living with 1000% inflation.

Robert Mugabe remains comfortably in power.

In a minute I'm going to be talking to the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but first our Southern African correspondent Peter Biles reflects on the situation on Zimbabwe and Mr Tsvangirai's role:

(Report from Peter Biles)

Morgan Tsvangirai sprang to international prominence about six years ago after helping to form the movement for democratic change. It was the most serious challenge to Robert Mugabe's rule since independence in 1980. The surge of support for the MDC opposition in the year 2000 also brought the police onto the streets in a fierce crackdown against the demonstrators.

President Mugabe who has been in power for 26 years now and has changed from being the hero of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle to a power-hungry autocrat tolerating little or no dissent. As the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has regularly been in the firing line. He's faced treason charges, been accused of plotting to kill Robert Mugabe. And all the while the MDC opposition has suffered from the brutality and intimidation of the state.

It's just a year since the authorities began Operation Muranbatsvina, a so-called urban clean-up campaign in which thousands of people were forcibly removed and often dumped in the countryside. While this was happening Zimbabwe's economy was in meltdown. Inflation has now topped 1000%, and food, fuel and foreign exchange are all in short supply. The government's only response has been to print more money. And the party that promised so much as a force for change has split. Morgan Tsvangirai has lost the support of many former key allies. In this vacuum no one seems sure which way Zimbabwe is heading.

ANDREW MARR: That report was from Peter Biles. Now let's talk to Morgan Tsvangirai himself. Welcome to London Mr. Tsvangirai.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Thank you Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: Why has the MDC split?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well it is a very tragic event but certainly something that has not affected the direction and the goal of the people's struggle for democracy.

ANDREW MARR: Has it been a personal thing, have you had trouble with...

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: No, it's not a personal thing, it was ideological. The people felt that they needed to confront the regime after failed electoral fraud and the people felt we should collaborate and compromise with the regime.

ANDREW MARR: You have said again recently that there is the prospect of mass civil disobedience, people taking to the streets. We've heard of this before, do you intend to follow through this time?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well this is the resolution of our congress, the people are determined to confront the regime. And then in that light they are prepared to take a step further than just going for elections, because of the electoral fraud that we have experienced. And ...

ANDREW MARR: What would a step further involve?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: That involves the mobilisation of the people. That involves...

ANDREW MARR: ... massed crowds on the streets...

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Massed crowds, putting people on the streets and making sure that they express their discontent.

ANDREW MARR: Now, a lot of people have looked to Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, and what he called his quiet diplomacy to move things on. There appears to have been very little move and we now hear that Kofi Anan, who was expected to come to Zimbabwe on behalf of the United Nations, is not going to be invited after all.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well as for President Mbeki's quite diplomacy, I think the South Africans have already accepted that quiet diplomacy has not produced the requisite article, and so are looking forward to the United Nations to intervene. But, yes, I think we've heard about this Kofi Anan initiative of which I have no full details. But, as you have said, if he is no longer coming then it means that that initiative is dead in the water.

ANDREW MARR: Do you see Mr Mbeki as just simply being too close to Robert Mugabe?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I see South Africa pursuing a policy of pursuing stability rather than democracy. And in that case they are very suspicious about any change of government rather than pursuing return of Zanu-PF.

ANDREW MARR: Now, we saw in that report some of the realities of life on the ground in Zimbabwe. I've got here, just to bring it home to people, a $20,000 Zimbabwe note. What would that buy me?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: It can't even buy you, it can't even buy you a Coke.

ANDREW MARR: A Coca Cola, couldn't buy me a coke.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: You need, you need about 80,000 of them. You need 80,000 of them.

ANDREW MARR: So I'd need four of these 20,000. And it also says, I've noticed, this is the first time I've seen this on a bank note - $20,000 on or before the date, here is the 21st December 2005 - it's actually got a kind of...it's got a "runs out" date on it.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Yes, but that's not money, that's a bearer's cheque. And whoever's seen money which expires?

ANDREW MARR: So expiring money and it's an expiring economy. If you don't get change in the next couple of years what is the lookout for ordinary Zimbabweans, people who invested so much hope at the time of independence?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: It's a catastrophic turnout. At the moment I think one can see a very bleak future. The country is looking at a precipice, I think it will be a very disastrous thing if there is no change immediately.

ANDREW MARR: Do you think Britain should be doing more?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Not Britain alone. In a multilateral sense Britain would be involved in a multilateral sense. I've already said that, that Britain can play a part within the multilateral institution, the United Nations, European Union, and influence in Sadac about where the course of events should be.

ANDREW MARR: And I suppose every time Britain does get involved President Mugabe simply says, there you go, it's the old colonial power trying to destabilise us again.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well if it remains a bilateral intervention then of course you will be accused of colonial, and by the way Andrew, you made a slip-up about Rhodesia, Rhodesia does no longer exist.

ANDREW MARR: I know. Sure.


ANDREW MARR: I wanted to ask about the future for the MDC itself, because you did fight those elections. You said that they were faked, that they were phoney. But a lot of African observers said that they were, they did express overall the view of the people of Zimbabwe. And there seems to be little hope now among the opposition that Zanu are actually going to disappear, that they're going to remain there whatever you do?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, the electoral route has produced such despondency amongst the people, people who no longer have confidence because of the fraud that has taken place. For those to just endorse electoral fraud besides that are actually endorsing the continuance of this dictatorship. And that is a tragedy because they don't calculate the cost of that dictatorship to Zimbabweans.

I'll take for instance people who have endorsed the presidential election and the parliamentary election. If they had taken a stand, a moral stand that the electoral fraud could not be tolerated probably they would have found a solution. But let me say that the people of Zimbabwe are determined. Illustrated by our congress 15,000 delegates come, the people of Zimbabwe are resilient, they are resilient to see and they have a shared commitment to see this dictatorship go.

ANDREW MARR: It seems that they may have a shared commitment to see the dictatorship go, if that's what it is. But it seems they have no way of doing it. They don't have a real push from South Africa to make that happen. Kofi Anan is probably being kept out of the equation, you lost the elections. What can happen now?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well the people will always prevail. Let me say that there is no dictatorship which is permanent. At the end of the day the people's determination to see their freedom will prevail.

ANDREW MARR: Mr. Tsvangirai, thank you very much indeed for joining us.



NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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