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Tsvangirai Aims to Persuade U.S. to Take New Look at Zimbabwe

Margaret Warner talks with Zimbabwe's prime minister and opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, about the shifting political landscape in the country, and his Friday meeting with President Barack Obama.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And next tonight, the man trying to lead the African nation of Zimbabwe out of economic and political chaos.

    Margaret Warner has that story.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Zimbabwe's prime minister four months ago by the man widely believed to have cheated him out of the presidency, President Robert Mugabe.

    The 2008 election had brought intimidation, attacks and killings upon Tsvangirai's supporters. Winning the first round, he pulled out of the runoff to stem the violence, then reluctantly entered into negotiations to share power.

    The two men are now joined in a coalition government that's trying to deal with the consequences of Mugabe's decades-long misrule, raging inflation, empty shelves, disease, and political violence.

    A month after taking office, Tsvangirai suffered a personal tragedy. His wife was killed when the car in which they were riding was sideswiped.

    He's in Washington this week as part of a weeks-long tour to persuade U.S. and European governments to reengage with Zimbabwe and provide his government aid. He meets with President Obama Friday.

    We spoke with Prime Minister Tsvangirai yesterday.

    Prime Minister Tsvangirai, thank you for being with us.

    MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, prime minister, Zimbabwe: Thank you, Margaret.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    What case are you going to make to President Obama and members of Congress about why the U.S. government should engage with your government, and even extend aid, when President Mugabe is still in power?

  • MORGAN TSVANGIRAI:

    Zimbabwe's a different place, because, for a very long time, we have been characterized as a country in crisis, as a country of political polarization between the two main political parties, a country with a collapsed economy, and a country with no hope.

    And I think that the new political dispensation represents a new Zimbabwe, which is looking forward to reconstruction, to reconciliation, and economic recovery.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    So, the economy is in better shape?

  • MORGAN TSVANGIRAI:

    We have only been in government for four months. It is not in great — we have not come out of the woods yet.

    But I think we have laid down the foundation for a better economic prospect, in terms of various reforms, the first one being the reserve bank reforms. We have also arrested the hyperinflation conditions from 500 billion percent to about 3 percent within three months.

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