Prime Minister's meeting with the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
MON 23 JULY 2012
Comments from a spokesperson for the Prime Minister:
Prime Minister Gillard today welcomed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe to Australia as a guest of government.
The leaders held formal discussions this morning followed by an official luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister in Mr Tsvangirai’s honour at Parliament House.
Australia was a strong supporter of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, including by playing a key role in the Commonwealth negotiations which led to the Lancaster House talks and independence.
More than 30 years on, Australia remains a firm friend of the Zimbabwean people as they continue their long struggle for peace and democracy.
The Prime Minister said that Australia was proud to host Mr Tsvangirai, whose personal courage and sacrifice embodied the aspirations of an entire population.
After years in opposition, Mr Tsvangirai became prime minister in 2009 following a ‘Global Political Agreement’ that led to the establishment of a Zimbabwean unity government and provided a framework for democratic reform in Zimbabwe.
The Prime Minister applauded Mr Tsvangirai’s commitment to peace in the face of extraordinary adversity.
She called on all parties to the unity Government to implement the provisions of the Global Political Agreement and to respect human rights and the rule of law.
The Prime Minister noted in particular the importance of the adoption of a new constitution for Zimbabwe by referendum and the subsequent holding of free and fair elections.
The Prime Minister assured Prime Minister Tsvangirai that Australia would continue to speak out against any attempts to undermine the path to free and fair elections, including political violence and intimidation.
The Prime Minister said the roadmap provided by the Global Political Agreement was the only credible way forward for Zimbabwe to emerge from its international isolation.
The Prime Minister also welcomed the role being played by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the South African Government in ensuring adherence to the Global Political Agreement.
The leaders discussed improvements made in Zimbabwe under the unity government since 2009, including economic growth and greater access to food, water and basic services.
They noted Zimbabwe continues to face many pressing development challenges, including food security, water and sanitation, and governance reforms.
Australia was one of the first donors to help efforts to restore basic services in Zimbabwe following the economic crisis and collapse of 2008 and remains a leading international donor.
Prime Minister Gillard said Australia was supporting a number of development assistance programs in Zimbabwe that were delivering practical results, including in relation to water and sanitation and improving food security.
Australian assistance has made a major contribution to rebuilding lives and livelihoods for the poorest and most vulnerable of those Zimbabweans devastated by the political conflict of recent years.