Zimbabwean Minister Defends Flawed Unity Deal, Urges Support | Freedom House

Zimbabwean Minister Defends Flawed Unity Deal, Urges Support

Washington

The agreement that created Zimbabwe's national unity government was an imperfect but necessary compromise to keep the country from becoming "another Somalia," said Tendai Biti, the country's new finance minister. Although negotiating the Global Political Agreement with some of the perpetrators of last year's election violence was an "excruciating experience," he said it gave Zimbabweans an opportunity to reestablish peace and begin on a path toward reform.

Biti made the remarks at an event today organized by Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy. Watch or download a video of the event here.

He is in Washington this week to seek support at the annual meeting of the World Bank and in talks with U.S. officials. U.S. and European governments have so far been reluctant to lift targeted sanctions or provide aid to Zimbabwe's government without more evidence of good governance and economic reform. Biti said such efforts are making progress, but that reformers in the government face opposition from hardliners that he likened to "catfish," who require the muddy waters of corruption to survive. 

"We, as Zimbabweans, and our political leadership have given Zimbabwe a chance," he said. "You must also give us a chance by dialoging and negotiating with us."

Zimbabwe is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.

For more information on Zimbabwe, visit:

Freedom in the World: Overview
Freedom in the World: 2008
Freedom of the Press 2008: Zimbabwe

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Zimbabwe since 1972.


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