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The Zimbabwe We Seek


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By Morgan Tsvangirai

THE MDC national executive met at the weekend and considered the latest initiative by the Zimbabwean churches to address the deepening national crisis through a proposal to map out a national vision for the country.

On Friday, I met the Bishops and shared with them our views on some of the issues they raise in their document, The Zimbabwe We Want. We commend the Bishops for their efforts. It is now common fare that the people of Zimbabwe feel the negative impact of the crisis.

Families are torn apart as millions of young people have sought refuge in the Diaspora; the vulnerable can barely breathe; millions are out work; business is on its knees; and the middle class has long disappeared from our social scene.

Even the bishops can feel the pressure and are desperate for relief.

The few Zimbabwean workers still at work are paid salaries and wages way below the official sustenance level - their continued employment is a form of slavery.

May I take this opportunity, fellow Zimbabweans, to record my appreciation for the tireless efforts of our civil society partners and political activists who have consistently confronted the Mugabe dictatorship against such heavy odds? I wish to pay special tribute to my fellow colleagues in the MDC who have remained steadfast in their fight for democracy, to the labour leaders recently brutalised for their convictions and beliefs; to the women who protest no food a decent education for their children; to our youth who struggle daily because of the lack of jobs; to civic society who has fought to find new ways tackle the issues we all face; and to the church and the Christian Alliance for its leadership's determination to continue to speak out for the voiceless.

All of these great Zimbabweans are heroes fighting for survival in a country
that showed a lot of promise at independence in 1980 but is now one of the poorest and a near hermetic nations on earth. All of these people - every one of them- fight every day for a new Zimbabwe. The work done by trade unions, students, peasants and thousands of political and Constitutional reform advocates to press Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to see reason deserves special mention.

Who would have believed in 1980 that in 2006, only 26 years after Independence, Zimbabwe would have the highest inflation rate in the world? Workers would earn a mere Z$10 000 when the poverty datum line is Z$140 000? Who would have believed that 26 years after Independence the average life expectancy of a man in Zimbabwe would be 37 and for a woman 34, the lowest in the world in 2006?

The last advantage we have as a country is in the strength and resilience of our people. That is why we will not fail at this critical time in our history. It
will take all of us working together to solve this crisis: bishops, trade
unions, civic society, the MDC and other political parties, students and women.

But to save Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have to address the known roadblocks to a new society. Although the crisis is clear to all, Mugabe and Zanu PF are refusing to realize that they have a role to play, like all Zimbabweans, and to end the current mess. Our understanding of democracy has always been rooted in our own reality and our sovereign status, but this must not be exploited to evade our obligations to posterity.

This crisis shall remain with us unless Mugabe and Zanu PF shift their mindset through a patriotic desire to save Zimbabwe from further haemorrhage.

The social costs of the Zimbabwean crisis has claimed a many a life. Acts of suppression and victimization have become visible throughout the country and even beyond. I need not remind you of cases of selective food distribution or even Operation Murambatsvina which invited the attention of the United Nations last year.

We believe the latest initiative from the Church, like previous efforts by both local and international political players to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, shall lead us to a cul-de-sac as long as Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF remain stuck in a state of denial. The absence of a political will to attend to our bleeding nation has become the single biggest obstacle to progress.

A national consensus and a national vision shall remain elusive for as long as the dictatorship defines, in its own terms, what constitutes people's freedoms, people's choices and a people's way of life.

We believe it is important for our nation to heal its wounds and re-build for
the future, recognising that what binds us is far greater than what divides us, celebrating our diversity and differences as individuals and as communities, and with a common resolve to institute safeguards to ensure that never again will our dignity be undermined by any one person or political party.

While the church effort is a well intentioned and a noble attempt to reaffirm
what the rest of the country has been aware of for the past 26 years, a speedy breakthrough to this national crisis hinges on the behaviour of Mugabe and Zanu PF. The urgency of the matter cannot be over-emphasized. We believe Mugabe and Zanu PF must embrace the reality and allow the nation to express itself out of the crisis.

The crisis is essentially political; we need to work together and create an
enabling political environment for a national vision to be realized. We are
ready to make an unconditional contribution through open and principled dialogue towards a new Zimbabwe in the national interest.

In our national executive meeting we noted that Zimbabwe needs a stable
political environment to allow for a new Constitution; open the way for a free and fair election; and enable us to embark on a reconstruction agenda, national healing and a stabilization programme.

We further noted that the framework for new vision for Zimbabwe and of rights and responsibilities must be enshrined in a new Constitution and Bill of Rights that is the result of a comprehensive process of social debate in which all stakeholders and communities have a full and equal opportunity to participate and have their say in the drafting a new founding document.

A new Zimbabwe must be anchored on the foundation of equality - in which our country provides shelter and care for all women, men and children who live there, with equal access to justice, to public goods and services, and to economic opportunity and resources, and where no unlawful discrimination shall be accepted.

We re-stated our desire for a Zimbabwe that cherishes good governance,
compassion, solidarity, peace, security and respect for women, men and children.

We reaffirmed our subscription to the principle of sustainable development
grounded in prosperity, quality of life and community stability.

Given the humanitarian emergencies confronting our nation, we urge the Church to press Mugabe and Zanu PF to open the door to all in order to save Zimbabwe. We owe it to our children to resolve the national crisis speedily and to cast away our current pariah status in the eyes of the international

The people of Zimbabwe need food, jobs, medical drugs and a good education system for their children. The people of Zimbabwe want to come back home and re-unite with their families. The people of Zimbabwe want to live well, with an affordable way of life. They want respect, at home and abroad. The people demand a new Constitution: an environment that shapes the future and allows for free and fair elections. The people of Zimbabwe want a respectable and accountable government.

I look forward to working with all Zimbabweans to build a better life for them and their families: to make Zimbabwe once again one of the richest countries in the world, where every young person has a job, where every child has plenty to eat, where every family can look to having their own home, where every old person can have quality health care - working together we can and will save Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai is leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change


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