MDC Vice President Thokozani Khupe’s speech in Parliament on Constitutional Amendment No 18 (19-09-0

Honorable speaker Sir, it is with a heavy heart and a weighted soul that l rise to make this contribution to the second reading debate on constitutional amendment no 18.

Mr. Speaker, l am fully alive to the weight of responsibility that has been place

d on the shoulders of our generation and in particular those of our respective parties.

Mr. Speaker Sir, as l speak now our country is in a serious economic and political crisis.

It is an economy that has sustained ten years of negative growth rates, a phenomenon unknown to countries that have not gone through a physical war.

It is an economy that has seen millions of fellow Zimbabweans flee the border to unwelcoming, xenophobic, cruel diaspora where our people are subjected to degrading living conditions.

It is an economy that has seen the reduction of our life expectancy to 37 for men and 34 years for women and has resulted in an unsustainable and below par lifestyle of our people.

The economic difficulties have been interpreted differently by our people. On one hand are those such as myself and the party l belong to, who believe that at the core of our current crisis lies the unfinished business of our national liberation struggle.

Whilst independence removed a settler colonial minority regime, it did not deal with three key issues.

Firstly it did not extend freedom to the majority in line with the ideals of our liberation struggle.

Secondly it did not deal with structural economic issues therefore failing to provide for its people.

Thirdly and quite critically it did not deal with the issue of land, agrarian reform and land redistribution.

The post colonial Zimbabwean state regrettably failed to address these issues significantly in the first decade of independence.

At the same time contradictions began to emerge and a gap was established between the ideals of national liberation and the post colonial rulers.

In our view, nationalism simply became exhausted, creating the condition for the inevitable emergence of a genuine opposition political party, the MDC.

Thus the MDC emerged purely and simply out of the resultant crisis of governance.

On the other hand there are those who believe that our problems are not internal but external.

They believe that our problems were created by some grand imperialistic countries whose agenda is to reverse the gains of our independence.

Our failure to accept our diverse views, the need for coexistence and tolerance has created a polarized, vicious, and intolerant society.

Families are heavily divided between ZANU PF and the MDC, between ZANU PF and ZANU PF, and between the MDC and the MDC.

Families are at war with each other. Violence, corruption, vindictiveness, mistrust, greed, patronage, jealousy, and rumor mongering has become the mainstay of our nation.

It is in this context that we welcomed the SADC heads of state resolution in Dar Salaam of the 29 th of March 2007, as being important and revolutionary. That resolution acknowledged the fact that there was a missing link in Zimbabwe, and this was dialogue of its own people and a mutual recognition of each others presence and legitimacy.

That ZANU PF among other formations exists as a legitimate entity that played a critical role in liberating our country cannot and should not be put in issue.

Equally that the MDC exist as a genuine social liberation movement with the legitimacy and blessing of millions of Zimbabweans cannot and should not be put in issue.

More importantly it cannot and should not be put in issue that none of these formations is a sellout or is more Zimbabwean than the other.

We are both stakeholders and citizens of this lovely and beautiful land called Zimbabwe.

With this in mind, the dialogue that has taken place and is still taking place has gone a long way toward deconstructing the matrix of intolerance and attrition in our society and hopefully this process is irreversible. Our party is committed to this process.

At the core of that dialogue, in our view, is the need to deal with the issue of legitimacy in our society. In our view, that can only come through the introduction of a people driven constitution and free and fair elections thereafter.

Of course the issues of repressive legislation such as POSA and AIPPA are critical, so too are the issues of the militarized state and the opaque management of the electoral process.

These are all issues covered in the agenda agreed to by the negotiators on the 19 th of June 2007.

We remain committed to the principle of a new people driven constitution and a transparent and open process.

Our friends and constituencies out there must know that we will never betray this principle; however we are alive to the ongoing discussions and the progress that has been made so far.

It is in this regard, that as a confidence building measure we take the bold decision of not standing in the way of constitution amendment number 18 as amended by the negotiating teams.

In making this decision we are in no way abandoning any of our principles or are we betraying any cause, all we are saying is that at this point in our history the country is crying out for bold and decisive leadership and not populist grandstanding.

We are assured negotiations are still ongoing and that they will deliberate on the many issues that are still outstanding in this proposed constitutional amendment.

For this reason and subject to the inclusion of the agreed positions on the following

· a comprehensive Bill of Rights,

· an all inclusive citizenship provision,

· limits to presidential terms of office,

· an independent electoral commission reporting to parliament, and above all an irrevocable commitment to the overhaul of security, media, and electoral laws, we are not standing in the way of the tabling of the 18 th amendment.

· We emphasize that our position is predicated on our view that this should be regarded as the first step towards a holistic resolution of the national crisis.

Honorable speaker sir, we are aware that a commitment has been made to a public process of making a constitution by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans- a process that we fully endorse.

Our people out there need food, jobs, hospitals, and therefore we as politicians cannot decimate those aspirations.

Mr. Speaker Sir, history will judge our actions one day, but l am confident that we as MDC will be able to look history in the face and say we were right.

Hon Thokozani Khupe, MP
MDC Vice President

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