FELLOW Zimbabweans, we have come to the end of yet another tough year and we are five days away from celebrating the birth of Christ. I have travelled throughout the country in the past few months. I have met workers, young people, and women, members of the clergy who told me their anxieties and frustrations but more tellingly about their betrayal through the brazen electoral theft of July 31.
I have met our hard working civil servants, vendors, cross border traders, students and university graduates who all told me of their grievous concern that the current administration does not seem to know and care about their sad predicament and what they expect from a caring leadership.
This is the time that we usually gather as families not only to remember Christ but to enjoy the festive season, to share gifts and to show the value of love of one another through Christmas gifts and presents.
I am fully aware that that this is certainly going to be a bleak Christmas with little or nothing to share. We are faced with a government that has fully abdicated its responsibilities to the vagaries of the economic weather, allowing the winds of fate to drift the nation state to whatever plight and economic destination.
We all can see that we are alone as individuals and as families because nobody in government seems to understand our plight and the interventions that are required for us to have some semblance of normalcy and decency in our lives.
The State of the Nation
As I said I have travelled across the country; from Chivi in Masvingo to Mabvuku in Harare. The nation is largely in a dire state with indicators pointing to a nation on quick strides to return to the chaos and collapse of 2008. Hunger is stalking the nation while food and farming inputs are being distributed selectively and continue to be used as a political weapon.
There is a serious liquidity crunch which has led to cash riots, including at a bank owned by a Zanu PF Minister where riot police had to be brought in to silence the genuine demand by innocent civil servants who simply wanted to access their cash. Government workers have not been paid their bonuses while the Zanu PF leadership has had to borrow money to pay salaries, further plunging the economy into financial doldrums because it does not make sense to borrow for recurrent expenditure.Advertisement
Power shortages have worsened, with the clueless government not having any idea on how to complete plans to internally increase power generation that we had started to roll out as an inclusive government. These power outages have seriously affected households and whatever is still left of our once-thriving industrial sector.
The humanitarian situation is worsening, with 2, 2 million people requiring food aid but the situation is likely to worsen next year if we take into cognizance the current erratic rains. There is no plan by the current leadership to deal with this impending humanitarian crisis that will worsen in 2014. Companies are closing, the country lost $1 billion soon after the elections due to the crisis of confidence in this government which last time raided people’s accounts and took their foreign currency.
In a space of four weeks between September and October 2013, nine companies went into liquidation while 12 were placed under judicial management. On housing, there is no plan and all we have seen are unconstitutional plans to demolish people’s houses without providing alternative accommodation.
The clueless Zanu PF leadership is peddling a policy program that it is calling ZimAsset when to all intents and purposes; it should actually be called ZimLiability. There is no clarity on how this broke government will fund that policy program, which in itself is a shoddy cut-and-paste job of some aspects of the MTP, the GWP, STERP and the MDC’s ART.
The economy has failed to take off after the so-called resounding victory of Zanu PF which was in fact a resounding act of theft. We have a despondent nation crying out for leadership and every day, we are seeing a nation sliding into the abyss with no plan whatsoever to rescue all the sectors suffering from a debilitating liquidity crunch while the clueless Zanu PF leadership watches band instead exerts its energy on internal succession battles and personal aggrandizement.
Elections and their implications
I now have impeccable information that most of the election material used on July 31 has been destroyed to cover up the grand theft and can no longer be availed. Added to that, ZEC currently is not in possession of the voters roll, ballot boxes and any other relevant material used in July as all such material is with the military and the intelligence structures used to rig the election.
The disputed election of July 31 has led to this parlous state of the economy with multi-layered crises of legitimacy, of governance, of leadership and expectation.
The crisis of legitimacy
The election was stolen. We have prepared a dossier as a party on how $100 million of scarce money was used to subvert the will of the people through a well-orchestrated rigging plot.
All the other facets of the national crisis stem from the crisis of legitimacy because this government has no mandate from the people and that is why there has been serious erosion of confidence in the government itself and the economy. Throughout the country, it is difficult to find people who voted for Zanu PF and that is why the people feel betrayed that they won the election but lost the results.
The crisis of legitimacy is at the core of the national crisis and unless this is resolved, this government, without the people’s mandate, will lead this country down the drain as they did some five years ago.
I have visited many districts in the country in the past three months and there is overwhelming consensus that this election was stolen, which means that this government is not legitimate in the eyes of Zimbabweans. SADC and the AU may have endorsed the poll, but the truth is that this government has no support from the people of Zimbabwe.Business has also lost faith and confidence in the government which is why US$1 billion was spirited out of the economy and the country is now facing a serious liquidity crunch.
The crisis of governance
The illegitimate government (on Thursday) presented what it called a budget at a time when the country has no money and revenue inflows are dwindling.The budget is enough proof of the incapacity of this government to move the country forward. While people were looking for confidence, leadership and boldness, Zanu PF presented delusion, ineptitude and anti-people rhetoric. To suggest that the economy will grow by 6,1 percent is mere fantasy while crafting a $4,2 billion budget which is unfunded is stretching the patience of Zimbabweans too far.
It was a budget which celebrated the collapse of the formal economy and did not address the critical issue of de-industrialization. The raft of tax measures that were introduced is going to hurt the ordinary citizen. To propose capital gains tax on house sales in high density areas is too drastic. Given the importance of EcoCash and other mobile cash platforms, any tax on these platforms will severely hurt the poor who use these platforms.
It is also irrational to impose taxes on musicians and artists when they are already reeling from the effects of piracy and theft of their creative work. Moreover, this economy needs capital from FDI and Overseas Development Assistance and to harp on policies such as indigenization in the current form shows that this government has no idea what needs to be done.
The belated national budget was only presented on Thursday which means that all transactions done by the government in the past one month were illegal because that expenditure was not approved by Parliament.
Despite the much vaunted ZimAsset, there is no clear policy direction for the nation. Companies are closing, unemployment continues to rise and the liquidity crunch has affected all facets of life and the government will most certainly bring back the Zimbabwe dollar, despite their shrill denials. This has caused great fear among the people because of the high possibility of an immediate return to the crisis and circus of 2008.
Only two weeks ago, the power utility announced an increase in power costs starting in 2014, which is not only bad news to industry and the ordinary people of Zimbabwe but points to a rapidly declining economic situation.
The crisis of expectation
Zanu PF has over-promised to the people. Civil servants have been promised more salaries by a broke government that is struggling to pay their normal salaries and has failed to pay bonuses. Farmers continue to expect inputs from government, industry wants to be recapitalized, and the unemployed are still waiting for the over two million jobs that they were promised but all they see are companies closing every day.
There is a high probability that some companies that are supposedly shutting down for the festive season might not re-open in January because of the economic indicators which are not inspiring any confidence. There is a serious crisis of expectation in all sectors because Zanu PF over-promised during the election but is now finding out that the purse is telling its own story.
The crisis of leadership
The Zanu PF government has chosen to bury its head in the sand and appears oblivious to the problems facing the ordinary Zimbabwean. From the liquidity crunch to the power outages, the rising prices of basic commodities to the prospect of yet another bad agricultural season, this government has no grasp of the situation on the ground which has not been addressed by the budget they belatedly presented yesterday.
And to add to the leadership crisis, this government announced shocking self-serving statistics which show the country as having an unemployment rate of only 11 percent. We were told last week that all those university graduates selling airtime are employed because they are playing a part in the economic activities of the country.
This was frightening to say the least and no rational person in this country can expect to see sense from a government which promised over two million jobs in the last election but is now saying unemployment is 11 percent. We expect more seriousness from those who everyday falsely claim they have an overwhelming mandate from the people when all we can see is overwhelming famine of ideas on how to run the country.
The MDC is alive and well.
To us in the MDC, the stolen election represented the postponement of the achievement of real change but not its abandonment. We remain very much in the trenches and we will not tire or rest until we achieve that which we set out to achieve in 1999. I am currently engaged on a nationwide tour to re-energize the party base, which started in Chivi in Masvingo province on 3 September 2013. To date, I have engaged the party leadership at grassroots level and spoken to ordinary Zimbabweans in most parts of the country.
That engagement exercise has been very informative as we engage on this journey to recover everything the Devil stole from the people. As I said at our 14th anniversary celebrations in Mutare, I remain inspired, at a personal level, by the story of David, who did not despair after the enemy stole everything from him. God tells David that he will enable him to pursue, overtake and recover all from the enemy.
As a party, we are on that mission to recover the stolen victory of the people of Zimbabwe. We fully appreciate our mission to rescue the country from tired nationalism. The nationalist elite have captured the state and its institutions and do not want to relinquish power through democratic means.
On our part, we are committed to achieving positive change through peaceful, democratic means. We remain committed to fighting repression using our bare hands. At a personal level, I remain committed to achieving the change that we set out to achieve and I will not relent on my commitment to democratic change.
Our engagement with the people have confirmed the national consensus that the last election was stolen and also brought out some of the internal hygiene issues we have to deal with as a party, one of them being the need for training of our cadres on the values of the party as part of the process of organizational renewal to enable the MDC to remain relevant to the political discourse in the country.
As a party, the MDC remains healthy, united and cohesive with fruitful internal debates that are neither censured nor prohibited, with a firm commitment to continue with this struggle until we achieve change and the positive transformation of the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.
The only way forward to address the crisis enveloping the country is a return to a legitimate government that has the mandate of Zimbabweans and the confidence of the people. That return to legitimacy can only take place through the conduct of a free, fair and credible election underpinned by reforms and where the people’s will is respected and upheld.
The lesson from the July 31 poll is that all reforms, including security sector and media reforms that were agreed to under the GPA, are mandatory id we are to have an undisputed election.
We will be embarking on a global advocacy campaign to the AU, SADC and the internal community on the need for the reversal of the fraudulent result of 2013. In short, the sustainable way forward is another election that will guarantee a return to legitimacy and a return to confidence which have led to the current crisis in the country.
To the people of Zimbabwe, our simple message is that we are together to the end. Power without character is dangerous. Power for power’s sake without taking into consideration the plight and concerns of the ordinary citizen is meaningless. The MDC is alive to the problems facing the people.
Zimbabweans know that when history called us to save the people in 2008, we did exactly that and arrested the crisis that was then facing the country. It is sad that we are slowly returning to that dark period and the current leadership has no clue on how to arrest the situation.
This time we will not legitimize theft but will insist on a fresh election as a precondition to the return to legitimacy so that a government with the mandate of the people can begin to address the many problems facing our nation. A free, fair and credible election is our watchword and unless that is done, the clueless Zanu PF leadership will take the country down the drain. We are a nation of heroes and fighters. We will continue to insist on the best for the hard-working people of Zimbabwe.
We are a nation of heroes. In the year that we have buried Nelson Mandela, we must continue to insist on change, peace and democracy in the country of our birth. There are those who have chosen to say things are alright in Zimbabwe because there is stability in Zimbabwe. But stability is not the all-important factor. We must, as Zimbabweans, insist on the maximum threshold for ourselves by not confining ourselves to stability as the only important factor at the expense of democracy and sustainable livelihoods for the people.
Together to the end. I thank you.