Text: Tsvangirai speech to MDC Parliamentary Caucus
The following is the full text of an address by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to the MDC' Parliamentary Caucus on Friday, May 30, 2008:
Before I begin, I would like ask everyone to stand and join with me to observe a moment of silence to remember the brave Zimbabweans killed in our struggle for democracy and the many thousands who have been injured or lost their lives through poverty, despair or disease.
Today is an historic occasion. Today I stand before you delivering a State of the Nation address to the new MDC Majority in Parliament!
For the first time since our liberation in 1980, Zimbabwe will witness a new and different era of governance. An era of democratic governance for the people and by the people. An era of governance that transforms our nation from the past and present disaster to an era of new opportunity.
The 29th of March seems a long time ago, but on that day, the MDC won control of the House of Assembly and Senate, and together with our coalition partners, we became Zimbabwe's new ruling party.
Each of you played a part in transforming "opposition" MDC to "ruling party" MDC. This is a huge responsibility for each of us. We cannot point fingers anymore. Our victory must herald a new and better future for our children. Our people-centered model of leadership must herald a new hope for our country.
Ours will be a long and sometimes dangerous road. At the beginning of our new road together, I want to salute each of you for your courage in recent days, and congratulate you as members of the winning team.
Very soon will be a time for celebration, but now is a time for us to get down to work.
As we prepare for the next election, our people stand on a precipice of fear and expectation. They voted for change and now they face many risks. Indeed we all stand on a bridge between yesterday's betrayal and tomorrow's promise. We as leaders have a historic responsibility to reverse the tide of intolerance, violence, corruption, inequality, discrimination, hatred, division, and patronage.
The state of our nation today is well known to all of us. We are an unmitigated embarrassment to the African continent. The state of our nation is actually beyond embarrassment, it is tragic -- the world's highest inflation, 80 % unemployment, education that has plummeted from the best in the Africa to one of the worst and a health care system that has dire shortages of doctors, nurses, medicine, beds and blankets. The State of our Nation today is a State of Despair.
Indeed, MDC as the new ruling party has inherited a government with no accountability to the people, no desire to encourage the growth of business, no commitment to workers to ensure their fundamental rights. We have inherited a government that respects neither man, nor women, nor child. We have inherited a government with no compass for what is right or just or economically sound for the country,
It doesn't have to be this way. We are a great country. We are rich with the talents of a great people with a tremendous work ethic who just want jobs, food, peace, and a future for our children. We are rich in natural resources and rich in resources to attract investors back to Zimbabwe. We can provide the services to feed our people – it is up to each of us in this room to say that Zimbabwe is open for business.
The people of Zimbabwe have chosen the MDC's elected officials to lay the foundations of a new Zimbabwe based on tolerance, equality, respect, solidarity, peace, unity, justice, and humble and obedient leadership.
I want to be clear about the fundamental values that will be the cornerstone, not just of our legislation and our parliament but in fact the values that will guide and steer our government and the course that will take us forward.
A New Zimbabwe will respect the dignity and rights of every man, woman and child and these rights will be enshrined in a people-centered Constitution. A New Zimbabwe will ensure that every man, woman and child has access to food, shelter, employment, healthcare and education.
In a New Zimbabwe every man, woman and child will be able to live together in peace, tolerance and prosperity. In a New Zimbabwe, our police will defend our rights, not destroy our hopes; our army will defend our borders, not attack our people. In a New Zimbabwe, our prisons will detain only criminals, not freedom-loving citizens.
In a New Zimbabwe we will have a People's Parliament that is not a rubber stamp but a true representative of democratic principles and the wishes and aspirations of the great Zimbabwean people. In a New Zimbabwe we will have checks and balances. And, very different from our past, I want the debates in parliament to be covered live on radio and television so that the people's business is not secret. Our MPs will be accountable to the voters, not hidden away behind high walls.
In a New Zimbabwe, too, the people must play a critical part. They must vigilantly keep their elected leaders accountable. They must not ask what the government can do for them, but also what they can each do together and individually to make Zimbabwe great again.
These core values will lay the groundwork for the legislative agenda I will outline today. This agenda is based upon the return of fundamental freedoms to the people of Zimbabwe. We shall call our Legislative Agenda the Restore Hope Campaign –
The Restore Hope Campaign will launch what I call the Third Republic – the first Republic in Zimbabwe was colonialist oppression that ended in 1980. The Second Republic was rule by those who liberated us from our oppressors but who unfortunately then transformed into irresponsible, violent and undemocratic tyrants. The Third Republic is the next generation of African leaders underpinned by the values of love, tolerance, rule of law and constitutionalism. The Third Republic is a post-liberation transformation -- a consolidation and entrenchment of democratic values and institutions. The Third Republic is the New Zimbabwe.
MDC's Restore Hope Campaign has five components that I shall briefly outline today. These components are not in the chronological order or in order of importance. All must be tackled together as a matter of urgency –
first, we shall urgently promote national healing.
second, we shall restore the people's freedoms,
third, we shall restore the people's dignity,
fourth, we shall restore the people's basic services, and
fifth, we shall restore Zimbabwe to the family of nations.
1. Healing our Nation
The most immediate challenge an MDC government will face is re-knitting the spiritual fabric of our society. Whether MDC, Zanu PF, or Independent, whether old or young, employed or unemployed, armed or civilians – all our people are hurting and deeply traumatized.
The goal of the New Zimbabwe is to rebuild and heal our country. We do not seek to substitute new oppressors for the old ones. Rather than focus on what divides us, we must now try to work together and heal our nation. This means we must even talk about restoring Zanu PF, the failed party of the Second Republic. After all, Zanu PF is the party of Zimbabwe's first liberation.
Healthy democracies generally have at least two political parties. In Zimbabwe, a reformed Zanu PF should remain one of them. Zanu PF members of parliament were elected and re-elected in part because of their proud heritage and their important voice.
While some Zanu PF members perpetrate violence against opposition political parties, not all share this view. Many Zanu PF members are also victimized by the violent hawks who have hijacked their party.
In the spirit of moving our country forward, let us seek out those peaceful members of Zanu PF whose eyes are open to the disastrous state of our nation. Let us listen to their views. Let us invite them in where we have policy agreement.
Our goal is not retribution but restoration – restoration of the community of Zimbabweans as one family, irrespective of race, gender, colour, tribal ancestry or political affiliation. Our goal is a nation that respects minorities and protects vulnerable groups, especially women, youth and people with disabilities.
The aim is not to make us prisoners of the past, but liberate us from that past. Only truth can move us forward. To that end, we must acknowledge the grave hardships, death and destruction perpetrated by the regime over the years.
To that end, MDC's healing, and national integration process will include a Truth and Justice Commission that looks not only at human rights abuses but also at corruption, looting and asset stripping.
To address the most egregious of the regime's abuses, this parliament must pass legislation that deals with compensation and reparations for the victims of Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina. Truth alone is not enough. Our people must be compensated.
With respect to Operation Makavotera Papi, I have established a President's Fund for Victims of Violence to begin the process of healing the physical hardships imposed on our people.
2. Restoring the People's Freedoms: Our Democratisation Agenda
Our legislative agenda to restore the people's freedom will require that we undertake many reforms, but broadly, we seek to undertake two initiatives: first, to embark on a process that results in a democratic constitution that genuinely protects our people; and second to rebuild and professionalize our national institutions such as the civil service, judiciary and security forces.
The first urgent step in restoring our people's freedom's is a new people- driven constitution.
Nine years ago, our desire for a new, people-driven constitution signified the start of our struggle for democracy. The first important task of this parliament will be to create conditions enabling Zimbabweans to write a constitution for themselves and by themselves.
The second task will be to adopt and pass that constitution so that it becomes a living internal document underpinning our democracy. We anticipate there will be some debate on the process of writing that constitution.
Some will opt for an All-Stakeholders conference. Some will suggest a proactive role by this parliament. Some will suggest the position of creating a constitutional assembly. Whatever position is chosen by Zimbabweans, this parliament must guarantee that our constitution will be completed by the people, for the people, in a period no later than 18 months as we guaranteed during the campaign. The consultative process must be thorough and inclusive and our government will ensure that the time and resources are available for this.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe must provide for one sovereign state, Zimbabwean citizenship, and a democratic system of government responsive to the needs and demands of all its people, committed to achieving equality between men and women and people of all races in a free and just society.
The constitution will prohibit racial, gender and all other forms of discrimination, and will promote racial and gender equality and a national unity that is based upon tolerance of diversity.
Everyone who exercises State power does so in trust for the people of Zimbabwe, and must exercise such power in accordance with his or her responsibilities to the people, solely to serve and protect the people's interests, and within the bounds of lawful authority set out in the constitution and other laws of the country. The State and all its organs must be committed to the rule of law, and no person or institution shall be above the law.
Our National Institutions
We are aware that the people who work for the Zimbabwean government today are suffering– be they police, army, CIO, judges, clerks, teachers, secretaries, cleaners or drivers. We are aware they want change. We are aware that most of their lives are as miserable as those who voted for change.
We have been told that some were not allowed to vote for change. We have heard that before the election some even had a sentimental hope that Zanu PF was still the best party to lead this country. We know now though, that since the election, many of the people who work for the Zimbabwean government have lost all faith in Zanu PF.
They feel betrayed, they feel embarrassed, they feel angry that their professional skills were used to steal the people's will right from under their very noses, right in front of SADC and the entire international community. And now, horrifically, some are being ordered to destroy the lives and spirits of their very own brothers and sisters.
In a profound spirit of wanting, and needing, to get our country out of this abyss, we hold out our hands to our brothers and sisters working for the Zimbabwean government, who receive their paltry paychecks to feed their children, yet are ordered to carry out acts for which they feel regretful and humiliated.
They know that our national institutions have become a political tool to perpetuate the power of the regime that does not have their interests at heart, not even the interests of those who work for them. Yet like all of us, employees at these institutions need a job, and they need food. And they are, quite frankly, afraid. Afraid of the change they secretly want, afraid of the change that could, in their minds, lead to retribution against them for the roles they played in the course of their government duties.
What we want to say to our brothers and sisters in the Zimbabwean government, especially those in the security forces, is that our new government is very serious about both rebuilding AND healing our country. In view of the horrors now, it is difficult to say, but we want to lead a country that forgives, but does NOT forget. If we forget, we, of course, risk repeating our mistakes.
To the uniformed forces, let me assure you that we aim to depoliticize your work with immediate effect.
We also take this opportunity to reassure you that it is not the intention of MDC to persecute or victimize any peaceful member of the uniformed services, whether officers or junior members. This assurance has been explained in the MDC policy paper statement to the uniformed forces.
But let me say to all very clearly -- the violence must stop now. There will be no tolerance or amnesty for those who continue to injure, rape, and murder our citizens. We consider these criminal acts, not political acts. Criminal acts will be prosecuted.
Zimbabweans who attack other Zimbabweans are breaking Zimbabwean and international law. The whole world is watching. Cease and desist now, and urge your fellow brothers and sisters to cease and desist. One person at a time we can stop this madness.
Fellow Zimbabweans, you are also aware that beyond the recent violence, for years we have endured legalistic chains that strangle our democratic freedoms.
One of our first acts of parliament will be the repeal of repressive legislation that restricts the freedoms of our people. For example, we all know the regime has created laws merely to sustain its existence, such as AIPPA and POSA, The Broadcasting Services Act and some aspects of the criminal code. Removing these repressive chains will be a first step in launching the MDC's new era of governance
In addition to the reform of state institutions, it is imperative that the private institutions of the New Zimbabwe be liberated from state interference. This means the immediate political unshackling of the media, the business sector, trade unions, churches and non-governmental organizations. If we do not promote, uphold and protect the freedom of these independent pillars of democracy, our post-liberation New Zimbabwe will be stillborn.
To carry out our national institution reform agenda, we will first carry out a democracy audit of the laws in our statutes and liquidate those that contradict our democratic principles. A process of public consultation, debate and dialogue around this immediate task must thus begin as a matter of urgency.
In sum, in rebuilding our national institutions, our aim is to reward professionalism, accountability, efficiency and integrity, and to have zero tolerance for politicization of state institutions and corruption.
3. Restoring the People's Dignity
While an appalling betrayal, the greatest tragedy of the regime's legacy is not the murder of innocent people. The greatest tragedy is the regime's attempt to destroy the spirit and self-confidence of our people.
While the regime vocally pretends it wants to protect the sovereignty of our country, it systematically attacks our very identities as Zimbabweans, forcing millions to scatter to other countries.
Today there are more Zimbabweans in Johannesburg than in Bulawayo. These are not citizens whose first choice was to leave the home of their birth. Their flight to other countries is a direct result of the regime's failures to provide food, jobs, and hope for our people. The brutality faced by some of the Diaspora in South Africa in recent days is a shocking reminder of the regime's failure and its destabilizing impact on the region.
In the New Zimbabwe we will focus on rebuilding the country and restoring the people's dignity. This part of our legislative agenda is complex but today I will briefly mention two key components – economic recovery and land reform.
I will not waste time telling you about the state of our economy. You live this shameful reality every day. I imagine it is the most dysfunctional economy in the world.
In order to perpetuate their hold on power, our predecessors destroyed the productive sectors of our economy, impoverishing millions of Zimbabweans. With not enough money being generated by the formal economy, they increased money supply, causing hyperinflation.
My fellow Zimbabweans, the MDC is determined to effectively address the hyperinflation bequeathed upon us by our predecessors using a combination of demand and supply-side interventions. Simultaneously, we will work tirelessly to ensure that macroeconomic stability is accompanied by an immediate supply-side response both as a way to sustain macroeconomic stability and also to raise industrial capacity utilization and productivity levels in industry and create sustainable jobs.
On the demand-side, we have always said that hyperinflation in this country will only be tamed if government's unrestrained appetite for resources is also tamed. The MDC government will be there to serve the people and its size, which will be small, will be defined by the needs of the people and not political perquisites and patronage.
To entrench this culture of fiscal discipline, the MDC will introduce complementary institutional measures, starting with the reform of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which we will make independent of the executive and accountable parliament. Its mandate will also be streamlined to focus on the maintenance of price stability, monetary policy, and bank supervision. This way, we will banish the quasi-fiscal role of the Central Bank to the dustbins of history.
Another institutional measure will involve tightening the accountability of public enterprises. To ensure that they do not perpetually remain a drain on the fiscus, the MDC will house them in a new Ministry of Public Enterprises, which will set clear performance targets and criteria for which all public enterprises will be held accountable.
These institutional reforms would be incomplete without the overhauling of the civil service and the streamlining of government ministries. This too will be a priority in our efforts to reign in the culture of runaway expenditure and infuse a higher level of efficiency and accountability in Government.
Fellow Zimbabweans, in the past, economic reforms have often impacted most negatively on the poor. We have learned from the hardships resulting from ESAP, and it is our intention to institute measures to mitigate the impact of such economic reforms on the poor in tandem with the introduction of these reforms. While we promise to do our best, we urge our people to have the pride to choose to be independent by being resourceful and hardworking, so as to reduce the burden on government.
It is perhaps the ideal time for me to focus for a while on the supply-side of the economic management challenge. First of all, industry is the goose that lays the golden egg and it is the MDC's intention to ensure that the goose is nurtured and nourished, given the importance of its role for our economic wellbeing. This will be achieved through the introduction of an environment that is conducive to business success and the creation of a symbiotic relationship of partnership between government and the private sector.
My fellow Zimbabweans, we have lofty ambitions for our economy. As we stated in our manifesto, the Zimbabwean economy is an enclave economy that is a fraction of its potential size. Income per capita is unacceptably low and, due to Zanu PF's cronyism and corruption, income distribution, which was also quite uneven, is now at unconscionable levels. Zanu PF affinity for command economics made control the preferred tool for government intervention in the economy over the last three decades.
Our objective is to create an alternative people-centered economy. The opportunity space needs to be opened up to tap into the imaginative creativity of local and foreign entrepreneurs to restore, restructure and rejuvenate our Zimbabwean industry.
Within a globalized world, the MDC appreciates that Zimbabwe is competing for talent and resources with the rest of the world. The MDC government is committed to the creation of an environment that is conducive to business by implementing supply-side measures that will make Zimbabwe one of the best countries in which to do business on the African continent.
While some reforms will take time, parliament must move quickly to pass legislation that establishes the Zimbabwe Economic Development Council. This consultative body must underpin stakeholder ownership and participation as we described in RESTART.
To avoid belaboring this matter too much, let me summarize our four priorities as follows: first, we must halt and reverse the country's shrinking economic output and address hyperinflation; second, we must revive and rehabilitate our industrial base to create jobs and expand our tax base; third, we must restore national credibility to again attract significant inflows of foreign direct investment; fourth and finally, we must address our humanitarian crisis, particularly the shortage of food and medicines.
In conclusion, let me stress that our objective must not be to merely restore the Zimbabwean economy to its former glory but also to take it to new heights. In the words of Haggai Chapter 2 verse 9, it is our passionate prayer and heartfelt desire that "The glory of this latter house … be greater than of the former…"
Land and Agricultural Reform
Let me be clear we must solve the Land Issue once and for all.
Since its inception, the MDC has had an unwavering commitment to a land reform program that is not only non-partisan, equitable, just and lawful, but also does not dislocate agricultural production and productivity. Zimbabwe is still to have such a land reform program. All we have had to date is a disorderly and greedy land-grab, which has not even begun to address the needs of landless people, both in terms of access to land and access to inputs.
We have applied our minds to what needs to be done. It is now time for implementation. Our actions will be guided by the following principles:
· The pre-2000 land distribution program was colonial, unjust and untenable and will never again represent the distribution of land in Zimbabwe.
· Land is not only a productive asset that should be distributed on the basis of need and ability to farm, but it is also a finite asset to be allocated and used wisely for the benefit of all Zimbabweans for generations to come.
· Land ownership is also a constitutional matter. A Land Commission that undertakes the detailed audit of the present as well as pre-2000 land ownership structure should be created to make recommendations on how to resolve the land question in an economically sensible way without negating equity and justice.
· Land ownership is also a social matter. The Land Commission that we propose to be established by legislation during the term of this parliament, should carry out its duties in a consultative manner with the full participation of the broad breadth of our people, inclusive of women.
· Measures must be put in place to either compensate or reincorporate into productive agriculture, those who lost their land during the Zanu PF land grab program, depending on the findings of the Land Commission.
· Access to land is not enough for agricultural productivity. It should be complemented by the provision of the necessary infrastructure, access to agricultural finance, inputs as well as extension services.
Guided by the above principles, the Land Commission, an independent and professional policy organ, will recommend to you, the people's representatives, how this question should be finally resolved. Once the Land Commission has completed its work, we expect the land question to be completely de-politicized by the commission's professional input, making it possible to rely on the market mechanism to determine the ownership of land in the long-term.
As you are aware, there is more to our land policies than what I have outlined above. We intend to banish the colonial system of separate land tenure systems for commercial and communal agriculture. However, we realize the need for creativity and flexibility as we move from the current system to the universally applicable one for all farmers.
We wish to give recognition to the legal right to land through issuance of title deeds, tradeable certificates of title, and leases. Landowners must hold title to their land, regardless of their social class or scale as well as scope of agricultural activity. To ensure the productive use of land and to discourage speculative land holding, we will institute a progressive land tax. The revenue generated from that tax will be applied to the provision of infrastructure and other social services in that community.
Our countrymen and women cannot wait forever for the resolution of the land question. I will say this often as the people's President – work rests squarely on the shoulders of the people's parliament, which should urgently use legislative tools to address this issue once and for all.
Eighty years of colonialism resulted in a complete marginalization of a majority of our people who were virtually third class citizens in their own land. Whilst independence did a commendable job in de-racializing our culture and establishing the key tenet of one-person one-vote, it did not deal with the issues of inequality. In my view, the best guarantor of the democracy we seek to craft in the new Zimbabwe is the economic emancipation and participation of our people.
Over the years, our people have been abused by the Zanu PF policy of indigenization which, although noble sounding on paper, was no more than patronage, clientelism, asset stripping and looting.
MDC now has an opportunity to craft a genuine programme for the empowerment of our people. This programme of affirmative action will be transparent, equitable, and within the rule of law.
To this end, this parliament will enact laws that will ensure that all new investments have significant black ownership. In addition, laws will also be passed that will seek to redress the unequal and inequitable status quo in past investments and shareholdings.
I trust that everyone will understand that if there is not equitable empowerment, and if there is no participation in the economy by the majority, then we are laying a booby-trap for ourselves, and profoundly undermining our aspirations to establish a truly democratic and sustainable post-liberation new Zimbabwe.
4. Restoring Basic Services
My fellow Zimbabweans, monumental work will be required to restore basic infrastructure services to the people, as well as make Zimbabwe a world-class tourist destination once again.
In the past decade, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has fallen below 37 years of age and child mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world. A quarter of our population lives with HIV/Aids. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens have to be fed by the international donor community. An energy and water crisis grips the country with little formal availability of fuel, electricity and clean water. The collapsed sewer reticulation system in urban areas puts all at risk of disease.
I will not take the time here to go into great detail but let me mention some of our key priorities in the immediate future.
First, we need to offer free anti-retrovirals to our people.
Second, we need to ensure the quality and affordability of all our educational establishments. This starts with ensuring that teachers are paid responsibly for the essential work they do. Our children's education is the foundation for our future growth and prosperity. They are our most valuable asset and we must treat them as such.
Third, we must rehabilitate our hospitals. Dispensary hospitals must be places of healing again, not places of dying. This means there must be beds in Gweru hospitals and blankets in Bulawayo hospitals. It means hospitals must again be able to provide food to their own patients. It means our health care system must again offer incentives to attract quality professionals back into our country to help our people become well again.
Fourth, and of urgent importance, nobody in our country should ever go hungry again. Innnovative and completely depoliticized food delivery mechanisms are urgently required whilst we get our agricultural production up and running again.
Our transformative work will also include the restructuring of energy to increase private sector participation as well as the introduction of regulators to avoid monopoly pricing and ensure environmental compliance.
We have similarly comprehensive policy and legislative programs for the transportation and communication sectors. Reform within the transportation sector in particular is long overdue. Our commitment in this regard is unwavering.
As we transform the New Zimbabwe, we will institute policies guided by the need to strike a judicious balance between opening them up for private sector investment while ensuring that they are adequately regulated to protect the interests of the poor and to avoid monopoly pricing, politicization and uncompetitive practices.
We have no illusions about the enormity of these tasks. Tasks only to be implemented by the government?
No. These changes need to be implemented by the people, for the people. We and the people of Zimbabwe need to undertake these enormous challenges as partners, together working toward rebuilding our society. This cooperative partnership between the government and the people will mark a fundamentally different approach in the New Zimbabwe.
5. Restoring Zimbabwe to the Family of Nations
Since 2000 Zimbabwe has transformed from the jewel of Africa to a tragedy. As flawed as it was, our constitution has been pillaged. Our rule of law has crumbled. Our national institutions have been politicized. Our basic services have been decimated. Our productivity has plummeted. Our fertile land cries for skills, implements, and investment.
Several years ago, when Zimbabwe was ousted from the Commonwealth. Mr. Mugabe said he didn't care. When SADC held an emergency summit on 12 April, Mr. Mugabe chose not to attend.
Mr. Mugabe has now even turned his back on Africa.
We, as MDC, are ready to return Zimbabwe to the family of democratic nations. We are ready to rejoin our brothers and sisters in SADC and the AU who also value the freedom, prosperity and dignity of their peoples.
In the past six weeks, as the winner of the Presidential election and as head of the majority party in parliament, I have met with leaders from throughout the African continent. They, along with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and other world leaders have expressed concern and outrage that the will of the people of Zimbabwe has once again been betrayed. They are all too well aware, some even very embarrassed, that the regime has broken promises and agreements to hold free and fair elections.
We look forward very soon to rejoining the family of nations committed to democratic governance and economic prosperity. Returning prosperity to our nation will be much easier and much faster when we rejoin the global community of nations.
In closing, Honourable Members of the House of Assembly and Senate, let me say again how very honoured I am to launch the Restore Hope Campaign with you today – a new era of governance for a new Zimbabwe. Once again let me congratulate you for your victories and salute you for your courage.
Honorable members, let us go forward now and finish what we have begun.
Let us go forward together to serve the people, to commit ourselves to rebuilding our country, to dedicate ourselves to creating a New Zimbabwe that offers all its citizens freedom, hope and prosperity.
Chinja Matiro, Matiro Chinja.
Guqula Isenzo, Isenzo Guqula.
you and may God bless Zimbabwe.
All material copyright newzimbabwe.com
Material may be published or reproduced in any form with appropriate credit to this website