17 Feb 2008 – President Tsvangirai’s Speech On The 10th of February 2008
Last week our National council took a decision to contest in the forthcoming elections. l confirm myself together with the comrades around me that we are going to contest in the presidential, parliamentary, senatorial and local government elections.

For the last few weeks l have been around the country on a listening tour. I have been there under a tree, in small little huts, at the dip tank and in the various communal fields.

What the people have been saying to me is that they are having to walk for many miles because of the unavailability of transport. They are having to go for days without eating a single meal.

On this listening tour l have been witnessing unprecedented cases of deepening poverty, collapse of general infrastructure and the desperation with which people have tried everything possible in order to survive. I was touched by the sincerity of their desperation.

Ironically people were not talking about parliamentary seats, senatorial seats or an opportunity to go to the state house. l agree with them, that the focus of this campaign and indeed the ideals of our struggle is how we can solve the peoples problems.

We intend in the next two weeks on the 23rd of February 2008, to unveil our manifesto and our plans to reverse the current decline that is a product of ZANU PF misrule in the last thirty years.

The Movement for Democratic Change was born out of the failure by ZANU PF to implement the ideals of the liberation struggle, in particular the extension of freedoms to all as well as economic emancipation of Zimbabweans.

The working peoples convention of February 1999, laid the foundation for our historic movement and placed in our hands the peoples mandate to deliver change and usher in a new government that is accountable to the people.

The recent people’s convention has reaffirmed the desire of the people of Zimbabwe for meaningful rather than cosmetic change. We are with them.

Since then we have been in the trenches of this democratic struggle. We have relentlessly pursued and continue to pursue every peaceful and democratic avenue available in order to find a solution to the crisis our country has been plunged into by ZANU PF.

Following months of the SADC led negotiations between us and ZANU PF, we still have not found conditions sufficient to guarantee a free and fair election. Mugabe and ZANU PF have never been sincere in the pursuit of democracy in this country, instead choosing to defend power at all costs.

We believe the election scheduled for the 29th of March 2008, however uneven the playing field may be, presents Zimbabweans with a fighting chance, to remove this dictatorship.

The people won in the election of 2000, they won in the election of 2002 and in that of 2005.

The people will win in the election of 2008 and should Robert Mugabe choose to steal their victory he would have consumed that last shred of legitimacy left for his dictatorship in the region and in the world.

The people of Zimbabwe are desperate for change. They have endured years of suffering in abject poverty. Inflation is soaring at 25 000 percent, further increasing the scourge of poverty.

Unemployment is now above 90% in particular the urban and rural working poor have now been excluded from this economy.

The air in our country is dense with the stench of poverty. Our health sector has collapsed and death has come sooner for our young people due to the scourge of the AIDS pandemic.1.5 million children are not in school.

The people of Zimbabwe, are looking to us to deliver them to a new Zimbabwe. A new Zimbabwe will give them an opportunity to make a new beginning. We are the agents of change. Indeed we provide the dawn of a new era.

What this country needs is a fresh start. This country needs transformation, that is, a total paradigm shift from the culture of ZANU PF that has been institutionalised and entrenched in our society.

A reform agenda will not deliver us as a people, it will simply perpetuate the status quo where the elite in ZANU PF continue to plunder the country’s meager resources while we the people suffer.

Our people need hope. Our people need a leadership that will never betray them, a leadership that will include them and consult them and not make elite pacts as a way of resolving this crisis.

Our people need a leadership they have worked with since the beginning of our democratic struggle. We are that leadership and we wish to take this opportunity to renew our covenant with the people and commit ourselves to the ideals and aspirations of every Zimbabwean.

Together we can deliver a new Zimbabwe. Now is the time.