Tsvangirai Says Constitutional Referendum Expected In 2011

Tsvangirai met Tuesday in Washington with key members of the U.S. Senate who told him that while legislation had been introduced to make sanctions more flexible, those against President Robert and other Zanu (PF) officials would stay in place until a 2008 power-sharing agreement was fully implemented.

Tsvangirai told VOA that this was the salient point of his discussions with U.S. Senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Russell Feingold.

Tsvangirai welcomed the introduction of the new sanctions legislation, saying it would help advance democracy in the country by rewarding those who were working to restore stability and the rule of law in the country.

The Senate bill would provide technical assistance to reform-minded ministries and promote agricultural development through policies aimed at re-establishing secure land tenure, among other measures.

On Monday Tsvangirai told a news conference in Washington that he was optimistic free and fair elections will be held held next year.

Tsvangirai was in Washington to receive the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the National Democratic Institute as well as for bilateral meetings with officials of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration.

The prime minister also had some more personal business in Washington: officiating at the soft launch of a foundation in memory of his late wife Susan, killed in a highway accident in March 2009 in which he was injured.

The Susan Tsvangirai foundation will serve Zimbabwean women and children. Sources in Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC wing said Susan Tsvangirai had intended to launch such a foundation before she was killed.

Tsvangirai said that he will carry on his wife’s legacy together with other members of his family. The foundation will be officially launched in Harare next week, party sources said.

Deputy Spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo of Tsvangirai’s MDC formation told VOA that the foundation will do much to uplift lives of women and children in the country. VOA