Full text of Tsvangirai's address to foreign correspondents
The following is the full text of a speech given by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to the Annual Foreign Correspondents' Dinner in Johannesburg on Friday, March 9, 2007:
By Morgan Tsvangirai
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I understand you had invited the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to be with you at this important occasion today. So, Mr. Chairman, while some may have been expecting an S Class Mercedes Benz, tonight you are going to get something else!
I present myself to all of you as a representative of a battered nation: a nation bleeding from a dysfunctional political system, with a people reeling under the weight of a criminal state; a nation under a dictatorship that has defied local and international advice on universal principles of governance, respect for individual and property rights. I lay myself before you as a leader of a people under siege from a dictatorship that has adopted a lone warrior mentality in the conduct of international relations to defend its waning political power base.
I am here this evening with a firm conviction that open debate and discussion about Zimbabwe’s national affairs is healthy for democracy and for our own humanity as Zimbabweans. I am guided by a humble belief in a united country and administered by a legitimate and caring unitary state; a nation in which our differences and our diversity are respected and celebrated as a source of national identity and national strength.
I further submit myself to all of you as a leader of the MDC, a symbol of a post-liberation alternative—seeking a new epoch whose signposts for national advancement are being spearheaded by broad social movements whose primary motivation resides in the pursuit of the ideals of the liberation struggle. The MDC assumed the guardianship of the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people; it is an idea whose time has come.
As an inspirational platform and a viable political alternative, all of us see the MDC as a vehicle already in motion and whose driver and passengers are destined towards a new Zimbabwe. Recent events and developments point to an inevitable collapse of the criminal regime. Widespread pressure for change has seen the virtual imposition of a state of emergency across the country. Meetings and all forms of political gatherings have been banned – and usually that signals the last kick of dying administration before it finally folds up.
We are in a hard transition, both political and generational. Our founding parents of the nation, our liberation icons, have lost focus and are failing to establish a legacy our people shall respect and cherish. They can’t even give way to their own people in Zanu PF, nor can they allow a free ad fair vote to enable Zimbabweans to look for alternatives.
Zimbabweans are a peace-loving people. That they have avoided an armed conflict, as is normal throughout Africa, to resolve the crisis shows their maturity and firm belief in an orderly transition.
In the MDC, our proposals for a lasting resolution of the national crisis are fast becoming the only acceptable avenue for a soft-landing. We have to save Zimbabwe through stakeholder dialogue, a confidence-building transitional window, a people-driven Constitution and free and fair elections – a process now accepted by other Zimbabwe watchers like the International Crisis Group as the only way out of the current stalemate.
Any nation in crisis cannot afford to ignore ideas and advice from reputable stakeholders like the ICG. You cannot build bridges with the international community unless you work with voices of reason. There is an international ethic that requires nations to listen to each other and pursue policies developed through the broader participation of their diverse communities.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the odds against us in this struggle may be daunting. But I am fully convinced that we shall triumph and realise our goal of national integration and save Zimbabwe from a rapacious clique that has pushed us to where we are today. It is common cause that the regime in Harare has failed, during the past 27 years, to establish a single nation in Zimbabwe. The high levels of marginalisation, discrimination and retribution are clear to all, including open reverse racism.
The biggest challenge facing a new Zimbabwe shall be the development of a diverse nation in which a person’s ancestry shall never be seen in political terms as a source of friction and discrimination. Across the racial and ethnic divide, access to our birthright and to our national resources has been severely restricted by the criminal regime in Harare, using an outdated and opportunistic form of nationalism grounded in the militarisation of civilian governance institutions and corruption.
The new Zimbabwe before my eyes, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, is a country an MDC government shall expose to a rigorous programme of national healing and national integration before it can take off in earnest. The wounds are too deep. Our people need to speak out and express themselves out of the present racial and ethnic fragments to a distinct nation. In my vision, no single social or political grouping must be permitted to dominate any other. We have committed ourselves to a complicated, post-colonial struggle for freedom, justice and democracy in a continent still trying to come to terms with a realization that black-on-black oppression exists. In a new Zimbabwe, everyone must be free to be different.
We have to eliminate the current misery and mistrust, and the sense of betrayal; and to enable the women, men and children of Zimbabwe to experience a changed political dispensation. We need to develop a culture of openness and accountability in public affairs. Our economic programmes shall be anchored on an unfettered and non-negotiable respect for the rule of law, respect for private initiative and property rights, equity and equal access to national opportunities. We fully recognise the depth of our current democratic crisis and the harm that has been caused to our society.
We pledge to undo the social fragmentation and economic disarray that has cast such a long and dark shadow over the basic dignity of our people, threatening the prosperity and welfare of our children. Our economic programme shall emphasise stabilisation and food security as national emergencies. As a priority, we shall set free land ownership from the current emotional trap and allow this finite resource to perform as an economic asset through a serious revival of commercial agriculture.
Zimbabweans are aware that a piece of land requires a balanced mixture of science, capital and expertise in order to make sense. They know that if a right mixture is put in place, every piece of Zimbabwe can be transformed into a prime source of life and wealth. Access to land and land use patterns shall draw lessons from the chaos we have experienced. As a limited resource, we shall balance our business needs, our environmental concerns and the need for fairness and equity in our land policy.
In line with the new international thinking, we desire a new Zimbabwe that realises its inter-dependence on a global culture and a moral ethic that upholds the sanctity of life, the indispensable place of a human being in a nation and the centrality of the rule of law to an individual’s sustenance.
Zimbabwe shall require a massive injection of international capital, either through direct foreign investment or partnerships and basic therapy normally associated with emerging democracies that show promise and a sane political thinking. As a product of civil society, I respect the place of social movements to any nation’s quest for advancement. We value the voices from labour and business; we value a free Press; we believe in justice and fair play. We listen. We value our basic and non-negotiable freedoms and rights, guided by the ideals of the liberation struggle.
Such a background commits us to the desire to end all forms of oppression and discrimination, in pursuit of a society based on equality, cultural advancement and national prosperity. We subscribe to the principle of sustainable development grounded in prosperity, quality of life and community stability. Our social agenda starts and ends with our social democracy thrust.
In the new Zimbabwe, my role shall demand a speedy implementation of my contract with the people. The people demand the establishment of irreversible institutions of governance to safeguard their freedoms. The status quo discourages robust, independent and effective institutions, common in all functional democracies to hedge and protect ordinary people from open political abuse. I am determined to oversee an essential transitional process whose thrust shall see the critical building blocks for a society whose main institutions shall protect everybody – from a peasant to a president.
Never again shall any one person or political party undermine the dignity of Zimbabweans. In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the initial life of a new Zimbabwe shall see the foundations of our nation’s rehabilitation and stabilization programmes. We must end our pariah status; inspire investor confidence; and implore on our neighbours in the SADC region to assist us to rejoin the family of nations.
Our behaviour shall be critical to the process. We have to abandon the present lone warrior mentality that has weakened us substantially. We know that Zimbabwe needs the world. We shall engage all nations that share universal norms and standards on the dignity of the human being and quality life. As we navigate through a delicate transition to a new Zimbabwe, much depends on the support we draw from our neighbours in the SADC region. The people stand ready to avoid a violent end to the regime in Harare.
The coalition of forces that sustained the regime in Harare over the past 27 years, once cemented by force and material inducements, has virtually collapsed. It is doubtful whether Robert Mugabe will be able to reconstruct a consensus, even if he tries to use the old carrot and stick strategy. As the warring factions inside ZANU PF continue to tear each other apart, the country might gradually move towards a power vacuum which, as you know, in other countries, such a vacuum has led to adventurism and disaster.
SADC is thus implored to maintain a keen eye on the situation in Zimbabwe, more than at any other time. Mugabe’s primary concern now is simply to manage factions which no longer share a common set of interests. In turn the factions themselves have abandoned any hope of achieving a consensus or compromise. They are now involved in a dog-eat-dog political game. As a people, we need an exit strategy from this trap before it is too late. What the international community is recommending is in line with our thoughts. We communicated a roadmap to peace over a year ago. We are still pushing the regime to get out of the state of denial and show a patriotic desire to save Zimbabwe from further hemorrhage.
I thank you,
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