MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai delivered a keynote speech at his party’s annual conference in Harare on Saturday, May 30. This is his speech in full:
Members of the National Standing Committee, the National Executive Committee and the National Council, Members of the Provincial Executive, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Mayors, Councillors, Distinguished Invited Guests, Members of the MDC, Ladies and Gentlemen;
It gives me great pleasure to stand before you today to look back on our decade of struggle and outline our vision for the way forward for the MDC as we continue to build a party of excellence.
The past year has been the most turbulent, challenging and decisive year in the history of our party and our country
Having won the elections in March 2008, the past year saw the MDC enter into protracted negotiations to find a sustainable solution to the political crisis plaguing our country
It was a year that saw the MDC taking its place in government for the first time, although not through a process or in a form that the people of this country had demanded when they cast their votes in March of last year.
As a party of excellence, it was our belief that in forming this government we would be able to begin replacing a culture of governance which had been based on fear and oppression with one based on empowering the people and creating opportunities for prosperity and development
In this process, we are grateful to our African brothers and sisters and the international community, who supported, and continue to support, our progress towards a democratic, free Zimbabwe.
We in the MDC, saw the formation of the inclusive Government as the most practical means of moving towards a Zimbabwe where our people can live free from fear, hunger, poverty and prosecution.
A New Zimbabwe where each citizen has a voice and where the leaders listen to those voices to create a society where everyone has access to education, healthcare, food and jobs. A society where we are all protected by the laws of the country and which are enforced by a non-partisan, professional police force.
It was the vision of this Zimbabwe that lead to the formation of the MDC ten years ago, and it is this vision which has guided us ever since. It is this vision that drives us towards building a party of excellence. As leaders, we acknowledge that this vision is yet to become a reality, but that that reality can be delivered through the implementation of the Global Political Agreement and, in particular, through the formation of a new constitution that will be people-drivenIt is this people-driven constitution that will provide the foundation upon which our New Zimbabwe will be built and it will enshrine our rights and promote the type of society in which we all wish to live
That society for which we are striving still bears little resemblance to the reality in which all of us live today and we must acknowledge that through forming this inclusive government we have just taken another step in a journey that began ten years ago.
Fellow members of the MDC and invited guests, our transition from an opposition party to a majority party, and ultimately to a member of this inclusive government, has not been an easy one.
While we must recognise the positive difference that our entry into government has brought to the people of Zimbabwe, we must also admit the fact that we have not moved as far or as fast with these positive changes as the people demand and deserve
Before I elaborate upon the obstacles that we have faced and continue to face, it is important that we first acknowledge the areas where we have been able to improve the quality of life for our people. In this, as in our decade–long struggle itself, we have a right to feel proud and we must use this pride to propel ourselves forward to fulfil the mandate that we have from the people.
In the 107 days since the formation of the inclusive government, the MDC within that Government has been instrumental in stabilising our economy and bringing it back from the brink of a truly national disaster. In fact, we have been able to bring our rate of inflation from a world-record breaking rate of 500 billion percent to minus 3% as at the end of March.
Through the provision of a monthly allowance to all government workers, we have enabled teachers to return to schools, health workers to return to our hospitals and the civil service itself to return to a sense of normalcy.
The past three and half months have also seen increased humanitarian access by local and international NGOs to those communities most in need as well as seeing more medicines for our hospitals and chemicals for water treatment.
We have seen all basic necessities return to the shelves and with the rationalisation of our currency base, prices are gradually returning to more competitive levels. Positive steps have been taken on our path towards democratisation. I am pleased to see here today those detainees who were abducted and illegally detained for so many months.
The holding of the media conference resulted in concrete recommendations that will be implemented to create an open media environment and the constitutional process has been triggered. Our goal of restoring fundamental freedoms and human rights is not yet achieved but we are moving in the right direction.
In the sphere of international relations I am also pleased to note significant improvements evidenced by the willingness of the international community to engage with our new Government and to match the progress that we make with increased assistance.
Members of the MDC, as I said, despite this progress there is still much to do. The progress that we have made, and are intent on making, is being undermined by those that are threatened by the democratic changes contained in the GPA. In addition, despite our party being committed to restoring the rule of law, our members continue to be the victim’s of political persecution.
Over the past ten years, each one of us has lived for the democratic ideals upon which our party is based. Each one of us has struggled for the democratic ideals upon which our party is based and each one of us have sacrificed for these democratic ideals.
It is these ideals that have been our compass and our light that guided us through the darkest days of our struggle. It is these ideals that continue to guide us now and which show us the direction in which we must continue to move and how far we still have to travel.
It is these ideals that continue to unite us as a party and which continue to unite us with the people. As long as we stay true to our ideals there can be no divisions within the party, no divisions between those in government and those in parliament, or those in local government and those that continue to work within the party structures.
It is these ideals that must continue bind us through the journey ahead and upon which we must remain vigilantly focussed. As Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and as President of the MDC, it is these ideals that continue to guide me.
It these ideals that show me that we have not yet succeeded in restoring the rule of law, that our people do not live free from fear, hunger and poverty, that our state media remains partisan and prejudiced, that freedom of association is not yet a right that all can enjoy.
It is these ideals that tell me that a land reform program must empower the majority of Zimbabweans without victimising any of our citizens and it must ensure food self-sufficiency. It cannot be based on racist persecution that leaves productive land fallow and our people hungry.
It is these ideals that tell me that Zimbabwe is still not a country where I can be confident about the futures of all our children. The process of National Healing is critical to ensuring a peaceful future for all our citizens. This process must be based on our ideals of transparency, justice and genuine reconciliation.
It is these ideals that tell me that we must move faster to ensure the full implementation of the GPA, the rapid progress of a people-driven constitutional process and the return to the rule of law. The outstanding issues, which we have now referred to SADC, must be resolved so that confidence in the GPA is not undermined and it continues to provide a positive transitional framework.
Members of the MDC and invited guests, let me assure you that the MDC in Government will be guided by MDC the party. The MDC entered government as part of the roadmap we defined in 2006, as the most strategic means to deliver a new, people-driven constitution and a transition to a truly free and just society. In order for us to achieve this and build a party of excellence, we must be disciplined regardless of what roles we are playing in this democratic struggle. Whether, in government, parliament, councils or the party, it is the party that is our anchor. It is the party that has brought us this far and it is the party that will carry us through this transitional phase to a truly democratic Zimbabwe.
The MDC was formed by the working people for the people. We struggled for the people and with the people, and we entered this inclusive government because of the people. It is the MDC that is the people’s source of hope and it is the people that are the MDC’s source of legitimacy and we connect to the people through our structures.
Therefore, we must concentrate on strengthening our structures and we, your political leadership, will ensure that there is the will and the resources to undertake this essential exercise to build a party of excellence. Fellow members of the MDC, the past ten years have been ones of hard struggle and sacrifice. They have been years in which we have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and stayed true to our ideals. They have been years in which we defeated powerful foes and formed strong friendships.
The coming years will test our strength and our friendships. They will test our commitment to our ideals as the journey ahead will not be easy but it is a journey that we must complete. The completion of this journey will not be possible unless everyone strives to ensure that the MDC is truly a party of excellence.
To achieve this we must have a leadership of excellence. This can only happen when each one of us in positions of responsibility, abide by the ideals of the party and put the interests of the party and the people above thoughts of personal gain. In building a party of excellence, there can be, and there will be, zero tolerance for any party leader, whether in government, parliament, local government or the party that allows him or herself to be corrupted by the trappings of the office they hold.
We owe it to our heroes who have paid the ultimate price in our struggle for a truly free Zimbabwe, to stay true to the principals of the party and the needs of the people. Fellow members of the MDC and invited guests, I am proud to be leading our party of excellence on this definitive stage of our struggle. I am proud to stand alongside the leadership and proud to represent each of you that proclaims their membership of our great party. I know that together we will overcome the obstacles ahead of us. Together, we will build a new Zimbabwe based on hope, respect and the will of the people. I know that we are together to the end and we are marching to a New Zimbabwe.
I thank you.