I wish to convey my condolences to the nation and the Bloch family following the death of renowned economist, Eric Bloch.
Bloch was a conscientious fellow and a renowned economist whose analyses reflected a deep and passionate love for his country. He was always concerned with the issue of how our country's economy could improve. He was always passionate about the measures, both political and economic, that we should take as a nation to enable Zimbabweans to pursue a life of happiness and stability.
We in the MDC wish to assure the Bloch family that we are with them in their time of grief and mourning. Bloch was a true and honest embodiment of a life of service and sacrifice, which at one time saw him serve at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as an advisor at a time this country required services that only a few like him could offer.
On behalf of the MDC and on my own behalf, I wish to state that the country is the biggest loser through his death and may the dear soul of this respected Zimbabwean rest in eternal peace.
The MDC national council met today to deliberate on preparations of the upcoming party Congress to be held at the end of October 2014.
Today's meeting of the National Council follows the meeting of the National Executive, which met for 11 and half hours until midnight yesterday. The executive met and debated on the reports of two Committees, one on Institutional Reform and the other on Constitutional Reforms. These committees were set up to seek members views on how the party can further refine its Constitution and enhance institutional transformation in line with our values as a democratic party.
Basing on the reports of these committees the National Executive made far reaching recommendations that were further debated by the National Council today.
Among the key resolutions made after protracted debate in line with our democratic tradition are:
(a) the 14 Standing Committee members, including the President, will be directly elected by the people at Congress.
(b) the Standing Committee has been expanded to include the position of the deputy secretary for Information and Publicity.
(c) the secretary for elections, once the selection criteria is finalised, will also sit in the Standing Committee.
(d) The party will respect gender parity in line with its Constitution and will strive to ensure equal gender representation in the organs of the party.
Our Congress preparations are going on very well and Provincial Congresses begin tomorrow with Harare province, which province will further make its own nominations for office bearers of the Standing Committee and other members of the national executive. We are gearing for our Congress where the key business will be more than just elections, even though elections are important because we are a democratic party.
The National Council also observed a minute of silence in honour and remembrance of Mr Ndanga, the provincial secretary for Mashonaland West province who perished in the disaster when a guest house collapsed at the Synagogue Church Of All Nations led by prophet TB Joshua. The party also honoured and remembered two other members who perished in an accident on their way from the party's anniversary celebrations in Masvingo last week.
The commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga has today said soldiers do not meddle in political and civilian issues.
This is all well and good and is not only Constitutional but is in fact the position in many jurisdictions in the SADC region. The soldiers must stay in the barracks, defending the country and its people and must stay away from politics.
Our only problem with General Chiwenga's statement is that our experience of the soldiers under his command is in fact a completely different story. He says this is the only country in the world where the army does not interfere with civilian issues but for us, nothing could be further from the truth.
The army has been involved in the violence against MDC supporters and the onslaught on innocent civilians suspected to belong to the MDC. We have witnessed the militarization of state institutions and entities against the dictates of national Constitution. Only in the last election, the country ran an election that was heavily militarised and which the people's will was subverted.
In his address to thousands of people who gathered at the MDC anniversary celebrations in Masvingo at the weekend, President Tsvangirai made reference to rogue soldiers who attacked civilians at Mupandawana in Gutu, prompting chief Gutu to lead a delegation of traditional leaders to the army superiors in Harare.
The President said the MDC had nothing against the army. "We respect all State institutions because we know they have a Constitutional obligation to protect the people and not to harm them."
President Tsvangirai said the MDC is aware that our army is professional, except a small clique that has become prisoner to the politics of patronage. We know the majority of them are suffering like all of us and they want change, except the few renegade elements that have been allowed to needlessly militarize and poison innocent State entities and independent bodies such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
While we appreciate the statement from general Chiwenga, we hope the army will stick to the Constitutional position that makes them a non-partisan institution that does not meddle in political and other civilian affairs. That is the legitimate position that has support of the national charter.
I was greatly disheartened when I learnt of the death of Fletcher Dulini Ncube, a colleague in this struggle for democracy and one-time Treasurer-General of the MDC.
Despite our differences in a struggle, we must continue to cherish the contributions made by individuals in our quest to bring democracy and positive change in the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. Even if we disagree, we must remember and respect each other's unique contributions. We will not forget the suffering he endured when was tortured and needlessly arrested for a crime he did not commit.
We do recognize his role in the liberation struggle. He was among the heroes of our democratic struggle who suffered at the hands of Zanu PF in its vain attempt to derail the struggle for change in this country.
Rest in eternal peace, dear colleague . We shall cherish the moments we shared with you in the people's struggle.
My sincere condolences to his family and all colleagues in the fight for democracy and true freedom. Our struggle is poorer without him.
Fare thee well, Fletcher Dulini Ncube.
Movement for Democratic Change
We gather here today to celebrate the 15th birthday of our great people’s party, the MDC.
The irony of the MDC is that while the party is still a teenager, it has had a long history that includes years spent both in the trenches and in government, where we distinguished ourselves in the service and sacrifice we offered to the people of Zimbabwe.
At only 15, we have shown capacity to wage a tenacious fight against a dictatorship and force it to the negotiating table as well as the political dexterity to deliver to the people in government as we did between 2009 and 2013.
As we celebrate our 15th birthday today, no one has any doubt about our ability to deliver and that is why the millions of Zimbabweans continue to invest their hope and faith in the MDC.
Our only regret is that it is with a heavy heart that we celebrate our anniversary today because as a nation, we are in the middle of a national crisis spawned by the illegitimacy attributable to yet another stolen election, the election of July 2013. We are here in Masvingo, cognisant of the fact that this province was another scene of the endemic electoral theft that characterised the last election.
The contrived official results belie the true fact that this remains one of our strongest provinces. We are under no illusion that notwithstanding the fudged results of the last election, people of Masvingo will never be Zanu PF again. We come here at a time this province is still to come to terms with those massive floods at Tokwe Mukosi that have shattered lives and destroyed people’s homes and livestock .
We grieve with the people of Masvingo, most of whom are still at the holding camp in Chingwizi, where the Zanu PF government continues to play games with people's lives by denying them compensation and not giving this national humanitarian crisis the due attention it deserves.
We are also aware of the violence that our sons and daughters in the army have unleashed on innocent citizens in Gutu; which violence has resulted in traditional leaders led by chief Gutu to seek the intervention of government to stop this embarrassing clampdown on the citizens of this province. The MDC has nothing against the army; we respect all State institutions because we know they have a Constitutional obligation to protect the people and not to harm them.
We are certain that the violence in Gutu is the work of a few misguided elements and is not representative of the position of the army and other security institutions, which institutions we in the MDC revere and respect so much.
We know that our army is professional, except a small clique that has become prisoner to the politics of patronage. We know the majority of them are suffering like all of us and they want change, except the few renegade elements that have been allowed to needlessly militarise and poison innocent State entities and independent bodies such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. As a party, we are proudly here in this province today, a province that hosts the national monument after which our great country is named, the home of Dzimba dzamabwe.
We are here to underline that we are a party of patriotic Zimbabweans; proud of this country, its history and the liberation struggle whose unfinished business we in the MDC seek to complete by bringing democracy and true freedom to this country.
The MDC’s 15 year history
Today, we celebrate a rich 15 years of age, an odd mixture of joy and tears that has been our life since the birth of this party in September 1999. We are proud that we are a grassroots party firmly embedded in the people, formed publicly at Rufaro stadium in the teeming people's suburb of Mbare.
Ours is a people's movement, not a power point project that originated in boardrooms. Our genesis not rooted in the unbridled ambition of individuals but from the ,ordinary people across the country who yearn for positive change in this country.
Ours is a party with its roots in the townships, in the villages, in mining towns and on the farms. We are firmly grounded in Makokoba, in Beitbridge, Binga, Rushinga and Muzarabani; a true people's party with a huge national appeal.
Ours is a national idea beyond egoistic individuals who look down upon others; individuals such as those in Zanu PF who have oppressed the people over the years or those among us who delude themselves that leadership can be wrestled outside the arena of the people, the true shareholders of this struggle.
In the past 15 years, this party has lost people through unmitigated State-sponsored violence, in a vain attempt to deny an idea whose hour had come.
Today, we remember those who paid the ultimate price. We remember Isaac Matongo, Tonderai Ndira, Seiso Moyo and Rebecca Mafukeni. We spare a thought for the thousands who were brutalised, raped and harassed in our tenacious struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
I want to assure you that those who died did not perish in vain. We pledge to ensure that this struggle runs its full course until victory is achieved well within our lifetime.
Yes, we have shed tears on this journey. We have suffered and known nothing but pain in this struggle. Yet, we have also enjoyed our moments of triumph, cognisant that those we enjoyed were mere successes in battle as the full war is still to be won.
As I have said, our journey has been an odd mixture of joy and sorrow. We have defeated Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in successive elections and they have had to sink in huge resources to subvert the will of the people.
We are proud that during our time in government, we rescued this country from the precipice; opening schools and hospitals that had closed and giving Zimbabweans every reason to believe in the functionality of government once again.
We brought confidence to the country, we brought life to a terminally sick economy and gave a distressed people a reason to hope again. And now Zimbabweans can see that without us, the nation is once again headed for the precipice.
The new Constitution was an MDC agenda, together with others in the broad democratic movement. I am proud to say here that we fought the good fight and brought a new Constitution to this land; a new charter the Zanu PF government is not keen to implement.
In short, it has been an eventful 15 years punctuated by tears and smiles, sorrow and mirth, pain and joy. In only 15 years, we have had odd experience as opposition party and government. The bloody trenches and the corridors of government, we have seen them all and gone through the necessary internship to prepare us for a bright future as an exclusive government.
The emerging national convergence
Today, we celebrate our 15th birthday under the theme " Towards national convergence, mobilising the people for victory."
The crisis we face has indeed united the nation in common grievances. Whether Zanu PF or MDC, Zimbabweans across their political diversity are united on the nature of the problems shackling them. Both the perpetrators and the victims of the subversion of the people’s will have converged on the national grievances that require the urgent attention of this government.
As a party, we unreservedly support all democratic forces who act within the provisions of the new Constitution to express disquiet over the common national grievances affecting all of us. People have a constitutional right to demonstrate and petition those in authority, from action demanding jobs to residents demanding service delivery. We all want an end to graft and corruption and we demand the non-partisan distribution of land, inputs and services of the State.
The new Constitution allows us to petition and demonstrate against those in authority. The 10 national grievances on which have united the people and on which Zimbabweans want an immediate solution include, but are not limited, to the following:
1. The economy:
This is the window through which the political crisis is manifesting itself. The country has no money, companies are closing and the prospects remain dim for Overseas Development Assistance and Foreign Direct Investment because of bad laws and policy inconsistency, among many other issues. Zimbabweans across the political divide and across all sectors are bearing the brunt of this debilitating economic crisis.
This is a ticking time bomb. An unemployment rate of over 85 percent is a source of national instability, especially after Zanu PF promised to create 2,2 million jobs in five years but all people see every day are company closures and retrenchments.
3. The plight of workers and civil servants:
Our hardworking government workers no longer have a predictable pay day as their employer struggles to raise salaries in time. Even money collected at toll gates for the repair and maintenance of roads and money meant to compensate flood victims here in Masvingo has been diverted to meet the civil servants’ pay check, which is not only far below the poverty datum line, but now cannot be guaranteed every month. Low morale among government workers affects the delivery of key government services which are important in any nation.
Even the few workers that remain in other sectors of our economy are struggling and most of them have been reduced to contract workers with slashed salaries that they are not even receiving.
4. Power cuts:
Power is important both in our households and whatever remains of our industry. Government’s failure to increase generation capacity has affected all the key economic and social sectors, including our health institutions and other critical national services. There is now new ballooned costs for a new power station in Kariba, which we in the MDC started in the inclusive government. The costs have suddenly shot up to over $500 million to accommodate corruption and sleaze.
5. Non-implementation of our national Constitution:
This is by far the biggest national grievance. Primarily, we can only send a message locally, regionally and internationally that we are serious as a country if we implement our Constitution; a charter that we made ourselves and endorsed as Zimbabweans.
There appears to be reluctance on implementation and alignment of about 400 of our laws to the supreme law of the land written by ourselves, for ourselves. The national grievance is that Mugabe has no wish to implement this contract with the people, particularly the issue of a devolved and decentralised State and the respect and implementation of a new and expanded bill of rights as enshrined in the new Constitution. Devolution will go a long way in addressing the national question and no company or investor will bring a cent into this country if we continue to show reluctance in implementing our own Constitution that we made and endorsed in our huge numbers.
6. State-sponsored violence:
The leopard has remained faithful to its spots. Only recently, the police beat up and seriously injured innocent Zimbabweans for exercising their Constitutional right to express themselves through a peaceful protest. In short, Zimbabweans remain unsafe, even from their own police force.
7. Politicisation of key state institutions:
Almost all institutions of the State have been compromised. Food handouts’, farming inputs and other government assistance is only being received by people from one political party.
Health institutions and public hospitals are struggling to deliver services, with the shortages of staff and medicines hitting hard on the country’s capacity to offer a credible and efficient health service. So poorly equipped are the local hospitals that the President himself flies out at the taxpayer’s expense to get treatment abroad while the nation struggles to be treated at local, poorly equipped hospitals and clinics.
One million children are out of school while those who are lucky to make it to schools and colleges cannot be guaranteed jobs even after obtaining tertiary qualification.
10. Declining Social Services:
The provision of adequate water and sanitation has become a key issue, especially in urban areas where clean water has become a luxury and at any moment the nation can experience disease outbreaks.
I want to conclude by restating that we have now drawn a line in the sand. We called for dialogue but our genuine offer was spurned. We are sending out a clear and unequivocal message that we reserve our right to mobilize the people for the ultimate people's victory through a free, fair and credible election.
This struggle has been long, the cost has been great and we pledge that we are taking charge of the endgame. We pledge a new paradigm that will address our current predicament and the solution to the serious crisis that we face as a nation.
This anniversary is a forerunner to a watershed congress in October where the key event will not be elections for top positions, important though they may be because we are a democratic party.
That Congress next month has serious other business to transact. At that Congress, we will spell out our clear roadmap to the next election and the party programmes we will embark on.
We will adopt the building blocks to organisational transformation so that we have a transformed and reinvigorated party that can match the formidable challenges and mount a victorious electoral campaign.
I want to conclude, as we celebrate our birthday today, that at this anniversary celebration and next month at our Congress, we begin the home stretch to the people's victory.
That victory is certain and I can see it on the horizon.
Happy birthday, MDC.
I thank You