“I heard you”
Fellow Zimbabweans, I want to say from the outset thank you for making me wiser. After a one-and-half months tour to all the country’s provinces and listening to your many voices, concerns and inputs most of them from outside the party I lead, all I can say is “Thank You Zimbabwe.”
From Beitbridge to Nyamakate, from Binga to Nyanga and from Plumtree to Chipinge, I wish to say I heard you all.
We sat under trees and discussed many issues about the country we all love. We huddled in round huts, conversed in town halls and sat under trees and tents and communed about the past, the present and the future of our country.
We spoke about past government-sponsored atrocities against the innocent citizens of our country, the present difficulties we all face and the new governance culture we should sculpt if we are to embrace a new future with renewed confidence and hope.
We discussed the next election which we all agreed was watershed and how as political parties and networks we all need to coalesce into a huge coalition for change that will set a new paradigm for future generations.
We debated on many issues, as we should as a diverse and different people united under one flag. What soothed my spirit on the few occasions we disagreed was that we all meant well and want things to work in this beautiful country that we all love.
We hugged and laughed about our situation as we enjoyed all those traditional meals. I am still full with the food that we enjoyed together; those mounds of rapoko sadza and especially the goat meat that I was served in almost all the country’s provinces.
I will never forget the camaraderie and the friendly spirit as you welcomed me and my team into your homes. It all speaks to the hospitable spirit that defines us as a people; indeed the love that glows bright amongst us as an African people always with high hopes for the future of our children.
Pastors, pensioners, chiefs, headmen, village heads; I heard you all and your concern about the endemic fear that has been planted in your communities. You told me about your measly allowances that are now in arrears and how Zanu PF abuses you to discriminate people and frog-march them to polling stations. I heard your cry that this should not happen in our new society after 2018.
To the church leaders and pastors, I heard the concerns about how your churches have been politicized by a party desperate to get votes even in those sacred places where nothing else but worship of the Lord should take place.
You said clearly that we should not allow that to happen in the new Zimbabwe after 2018. To civic society and the many groups that serve in our communities, I heard your prayers for peace in our land and your wish for a government that truly cares for its people.
To the civil servants, I heard you and I share your concerns about your collective dignity that has been eroded under this uncaring government that now responds to your very genuine grievances only when you threaten a crippling strike.
To the Venda, the Kalanga, the Ndebele, the Tonga, the Shangani and the Ndau, I heard your cries about exclusion; your fervent prayer that the new society we must create after 2018 must be genuinely inclusive and must make everyone feel proud to be a Zimbabwean once again.
Those with broken spirits; victimized and orphaned by State-sponsored atrocities, I heard your cries that we should slam the door shut on such violence and say ‘Never Again’. I heard your cry that we should put closure to State sponsored violence; that we should heal our traumatized communities through community reparations so as to at least allow your battered souls to forgive but not to forget.
I heard you about the new society you want us to create; a society underpinned by unity and togetherness, growth, peace and development.
It is that solidarity that will enable us to bravely march into the future; the solidarity of a united community. I was charmed by the sight of a glued community working in unison in Binga even after the tragedy of lightning had struck and killed those innocent souls at a funeral.
That unity defines us. We always rise or fall collectively as a people!
All the people who made invaluable contributions during my tour, I heard you; the despondent artisanal miners in Redcliff, I still carry your voices with me. The pensioners, men and women who spoke in impassioned voices about the desperate need for a new governance culture in our country, I can assure you your words made a lasting impression on my spirit.
To all those resolute families that sunny afternoon who stood in defence of their rights as our private meeting was invaded by armed riot police in Nyamakate in Mashonaland West, I salute your courage.
To the patriotic Zimbabweans with whom I enjoyed a meal in Hauna, those patriotic chiefs and headmen in Plumtree and that courageous woman, vaChihera, who spoke with passion and courage in Chimanimani West, I will not forget your conquering spirit.
The forsaken elders in Mukumbura; traumatized by both the Smith regime and the Mugabe regime of the freedom fighters you clothed and fed, I assure you I still carry your touching concerns that we will address in the new dispensation that is now almost upon us.
Fellow Zimbabweans, what was soothing was that we all agreed that 2018 is a perfect opportunity for the nation to start afresh; to build a new country and gather the broken smithereens of our scattered hope. It was comforting that regardless of all your legitimate and genuine grievances against this regime, you still hold the hope for our country and its future; that 2018 shall be the year we all start afresh.
To the youth and the students with whom I conversed, remember you are the real stakeholders of the future. You must shape that future, your own future, by participating in the politics of your country. Remember we agreed that the onus is upon you to register to vote, to vote and make your voice count and to secure and defend that vote. You cannot outsource your future to anyone.
Fellow Zimbabweans, I want to assure you that I heard you all.
Henceforth, the decisions I will make both before and after the next watershed election shall be shaped and informed by the very rich engagements that I had with you in the past one-and-half months.
To the old man in Binga, your wise words to me, said with passion and conviction, will always ring in my mind: “Don’t follow in Mugabe’s footsteps!”
At a personal level, you all shaped me. I want to assure you that your rich contributions will guide me and shape the decisions I will be making going forward.
Yes, I heard you all, my fellow countrymen and countrywomen.
Thanks for the memories!