Statement by MDC President Tsvangirai on the occasion of the signing of an Alliance MOU with Transform Zimbabwe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The MDC remains on course on its programme of action to provide leadership to the people of Zimbabwe by mobilizing them for change.
Our teams are currently travelling the length and breadth of this country as we speak, empowering individuals and communities to take their destiny into their own hands educating them on their voting rights and assisting them with ideas on how to confront the challenges that we are all currently facing.
The country is bleeding and what is required is focused action on the ground in our various communities. Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF are not only clueless but they are also insensitive to the plight of the people.
A few weeks ago, our policy Council completed a review of our policy Agenda. An agenda that should take us out of the current man made crisis. Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF’s days are numbered. We need to reclaim our country and:
- Resuscitate our mines and industries in order to create jobs,
- Make our education and health services accessible and affordable
- Provide housing opportunities for the homeless
- End the cash crisis and the cycle of poverty gripping our nation
- Provide support to our informal sector and vulnerable members of our society
- Pay special attention to the needs of our compatriots living with disabilities
- Respect and protect workers’ rights
- Give title as opposed to revocable offer letters and leases to our new farmers so that their stay on the farms is not subject to the whims of any governing party
- Compensate old farmers
- Reinstate the national rather than partisan standing of our liberation war veterans
- Rehabilitate our infrastructure and economic enablers and
- Eradicate corruption
For us to do this we need all our hands on deck. We need to come together as Zimbabweans to end our misery. None but ourselves can get us out of this mess.
In the last few months we have answered the call by the people of Zimbabwe for opposition unity. In this regard, in December 2016 our National Council met and defined a path that the party would follow in achieving the coalescing of opposition forces. This path departs from the current narrative in coalition building, which is being informed, by positions rather than a transformative agenda that responds to the needs of the people. We say no to a coalition built on the basis of a boardroom elite consensus, devoid of and divorced from the voices of Zimbabweans in whatever form expressed and implied.
This path involves the careful selection of our would-be partners, so that we are not infiltrated by our opponents but coalesce only with those who genuinely share our transformative agenda. Being selective is not synonymous with being exclusive. Whilst a squad of a football club might have 26 players, only 11 will play at a time, depending with the Coach’s strategy and the opponent. The remainder will have their chance but still support and remain members of the same squad with the same objective. We seek not a quantitative coalition to distribute positions amongst the elite, but a qualitative agenda driven coalition with a well thought out electoral strategy. We seek a coalition with the people of Zimbabwe from all sectors of our country. We will therefore not experiment with the future of Zimbabweans.
Moreover, our national council resolved that our coalition discussions will take place at a bilateral and not a multilateral level.
Our party also set clear guidelines on how this engagement would be done and the principles guiding it. We will neither prevaricate nor indicate left when we intend to turn right. For we have the courage of our convictions and believe in the rightness of our cause and our course.
Today, as part of this process, we have signed another MOU with a young but vibrant party- Transform Zimbabwe. A party, which has its roots in our religious and civic community. A party formed and led by young people. A party that has worked well with others in the democratic movement seeking an even electoral playing field.
As MDC we recognize that good leadership entails amongst other things the ability to assist in the creation of new leaders and not recycle already recycled and failed ones as part of the process of building a vibrant multi-party democracy in our country for today and for posterity. We need to infuse new blood and new thinking in our body politic. Old wine in new bottles just won’t cut it, because it will be a continuation of the status quo. We need vibrancy and a leadership focused on the current and future challenges that our country and in particular our young people are facing and will face. An agenda anchored on the past as represented by ZANU PF and its neo-acolytes or should I say Zanulites, won’t cut it. Matakadya kare haanyaradze mwana
We need a paradigm shift and a new covenant with the people of Zimbabwe. We need to build a democracy based on the competition of ideas on how to take our country forward rather than daily reminisce about a war we won 37 years ago when the President of Transform Zimbabwe was only two years old. Is it not a shame that at 40 today he has only known one President since our independence in 1980?
We now have a new war. A war against poverty, disease, unemployment and ignorance. A war that requires new warriors, new weapons and new strategies and tactics. We need to build a democracy which is not rooted in some misguided sense of entitlement where other sections of our society believe that them and them alone have the divine right to participate in the governance of our country by virtue of having been born first and thus participated in our noble and shared national liberation struggle. If that sense of misguided entitlement is allowed to take root, then our independence and freedom will never be a shared one.
The 2018 elections present a rare opportunity for all of us to jump our last hurdle to freedom and prosperity as a nation. The 2018 to 2023 period will be an opportune transition period for us to radically transform our governance culture, remove fear from amongst our people, implement our new constitution and revitalize our economy.
Together we will create an environment in which all Zimbabweans will be free to participate in the governance of their country and where all will have equal opportunities to pursue their dreams in freedom. We will build a new society that will pride itself for not leaving anyone behind. We will reform and reconstruct a state that is loved rather than feared by its citizens under the guidance of a caring and God fearing leadership.
Join us in this new war, a war where several battles including a new constitution have already been won by registering to vote and voting for change.
The emerging national convergence
We also note with gratitude the emerging national sentiment being echoed even from within Zanu PF itself on the fact that President Mugabe should allow the country to move forward and not run in the next election.
We say this not because we are afraid of facing him in an election because in my case, I have defeated Mugabe before. However, I am heartened by the emerging national consensus that given his advanced age, it is not in the national interest to allow a doddering 94-year old to seek a new term. Stepping aside would be in the interest not only of the country but also of the President himself.
We have heard several senior officials in his own party, particularly the speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda speaking about succession and retirement and what should happen thereafter in terms of the national Constitution. War veterans Minister Tshinga Dube has also spoken to that effect, further demystifying this sacred subject in Zanu PF. We are heartened by the fact that some in Zanu PF have now realized that it would be the greatest national betrayal to allow a nonagenarian to seek a new term. This is exactly what Zimbabweans told me during my one-and-half months tour of the country; that we cannot as a country allow a 94-year old to seek re-election. He is too old to understand the challenges of a modern economy.
With all due respect, we cannot as a nation allow a geriatric to preside of a modern economy. Geriatrics should receive our care but cannot govern the twitter generation that now constitutes 60 percent of our population. Yesterday’s people cannot comprehend the dynamics of today. Today’s challenges need today’s people. By virtue of his age, the President is certainly yesterday’s man.
Now we note he is desperately trying to endear himself to the young generation whose future he has virtually destroyed. His so-called youth interface rallies are bereft of any cogent message and are a testimony to his serious disconnect with the concerns and aspirations of the country’s youth.
Moreover, the disruptive closure of schools and the frog-marching of vendors sets a bad precedent of a culture of coercion, which does not bode well for the country, particularly on the eve of an election where people should be free to express themselves.
Indeed, the President’s age is a key election issue. Zanu PF is failing to deal with this age crisis that has now become an albatross of the entire nation. We can fully understand Mudenda’s frustration because even Parliament has its hands hopelessly tied by the whipping system.
It appears Mugabe will not allow anything else that can take away his powers where he has used his incumbency to perpetuate bad and corrupt governance, which has seen the whole of Mazowe becoming his wife’s personal property.
Every institution, through his overstaying in office, has been deliberately emasculated.
I agree with the Speaker of Parliament that the power of the people is the ultimate route that can guarantee us a secure and a democratic future. We remain sticklers to democracy and the electoral route and that is why we are saying the electoral route should be chlorinated so that the people are allowed to freely express themselves and to choose their own leaders.
It is ironic that among the reasons Zimbabwean went to war is the right to vote, which right has been eroded over the years hence our fight through ZINERA for a free and election. Our fight for clean elections is well within the ethos and values of the liberation struggle, particularly one man one vote; or the right to vote for which so many sons and daughters of this land died.
One of the reasons for the national liberation struggle was the land, hence the war cry Mwana Wevhu. Behind that solemn cry was a demand for inheritance in the form of the land which has been haphazardly given to individuals but without title. That inheritance also includes our minerals and it is the height of government negligence that the President himself could admit that $15 billion worth of our diamond heritage disappeared without trace.
For us in the MDC and in the broader democratic movement, inheritance means the restoration of dignity and there cannot be any restoration without title. The title to land will not only restore dignity to Zimbabweans but could also increase productivity and restore the land market.
In conclusion, I wish to say as Zimbabweans converse about their country and as the huge coalition for change gathers momentum, we derive comfort in the emerging consensus on a number of issues, particularly on the need to allow the President to rest and allow the nation to move forward by not muddying the waters through seeking a new term.
And of course, our narrative goes beyond simply saying Mugabe must go, even though that is the ideal starting point. The real work for this country begins the morning after his departure which is why we in the MDC are sharpening a robust transformative policy agenda that will rehabilitate all sectors of the country’s political economy.
Yes, Mugabe should not stand by virtue of his age. That is only the starting point, but an important one for that matter. It is Mugabe’s age that has paralyzed the entirety of government as everyone within the corridors of power focuses not on the crisis facing the people but on a succession agenda that is now being pursued along factional lines. Zimbabwe is greater than individuals and thank God, some in Zanu PF now agree with what some of us have been saying for years that there will still be a country and a people beyond Mugabe.
Our only challenge is to continue to press for the sovereign expression of the people through a truly free, fair and credible election. My parting short is that the real work lies with us, the people of Zimbabwe. Election shenanigans can only happen in an environment of apathy. We should desist from this culture where only 40 percent of eligible voters turn out to vote. The change we seek will be difficult to manipulate if we turn out in our overwhelming numbers to register and to cast our vote on the day of the challenge.
That is the national challenge and as for the youth, you are the game changers in the current national predicament. Do not outsource your future to anyone. That future is literally in your hands.
We are playing our part, as we have done today through this MOU. I urge Zimbabweans, particularly the youth, to have their own memorandum of understanding with their own future by actively seeking to define and secure it through active participation in the politics of their country.
It all starts by registering to vote.I Thank You