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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader and Government Minister in Exclusive VOA Interview


Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwean Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga took different positions on whether runoff elections should be held

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2008 - In an exclusive interview on the Voice of America (VOA), Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwean Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga took different positions on whether runoff elections should be held.

During the interview on VOA's Straight Talk Africa, Tsvangirai applauded calls by the Southern African Development Community to delay runoff elections. Matonga countered by repeating President Robert Mugabe's insistence that the country's runoff go ahead as planned.

When asked where he was during the VOA interview, Tsvangirai said that he had returned to the Dutch Embassy in Harare because his safety could not be guaranteed.

Matonga disputed Tsvangirai's claim saying, "I feel very sad when I see him (Tsvangirai) being moved from one place to the other and he's being treated like a 'yo-yo.' He is very secure in Zimbabwe. There is no way his life can be in danger because he is a presidential candidate."

When asked by Straight Talk Africahost Shaka Ssali if he had a message for President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai replied, "President Mugabe, you are the founding father of Zimbabwe. You should step up, not step down. Step up to be a statesman. Step up to be the real legacy of the founding father."

Straight Talk Africa, a weekly, one-hour call-in program, is broadcast live on radio, television, and the Internet. Host Shaka Ssali discusses current political issues with guest experts. Full video of the interview is available online at http://www.voanews.com/wm/voa/africa/engl/engl1830v.asx.

VOA's coverage of Africa includes broadcasts in 13 languages via radio, television, and the Internet including 19 hours each week to Zimbabwe in English, Shona, and Ndebele. Further coverage of events in Africa can be found online at www.voaafrica.com.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,250 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, please call the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959, or e-mailpublicaffairs@voa.gov.

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