This is, in many ways, the saddest Independence Day since our independence from colonial rule in 1980.
Our people are literally starving; Zimbabwe is amongst the worst humanitarian crisis of this new century.
Our humanitarian crisis has political roots, and that gives us hope, because political problems have political solutions.
Zimbabweans have no food because of the policies of President Robert Mugabe; Zimbabweans have no schools, because of the policies of President Robert Mugabe; Zimbabweans have no hospital care, because of President Robert Mugabe’s policies.
And on March 29th, the people of Zimbabwe in their largely free election, repudiated President Robert Mugabe and Zanu pf and elected a new government.
For three weeks now, the people of Zimbabwe have waited peacefully.
They have waited for a peaceful transfer of power from the defeated old regime, to the democratically elected new government. So far that transition is not ok’d.
Within days, Italy has counted and announced a new president, in the stark contrast to our situation back home.
How long shall Africa’s millions wait for democracy to enlighten a continent so rich and endowed in potential?
How many more meetings to discuss crises from Rwanda, to Ethiopia, to Darfur, and to Zimbabwe?
So the nations of the World have done what good neighbours should do: they have enquired; they’ve asked what’s wrong.
They’ve pounded on our doors. They fear that something is wrong in their neighbour’s house and they’ve raised the cry of alarm.
I want to thank Southern African leaders who met recently in Lusaka. You have let your voice be heard.
I want to thank the leading industrial nations of the World, organised under G8. You have let your voices be heard.
I want to thank the Secretary General of the United Nations. Yours is the voice of the whole World, and you have let the World’s voice be heard.
Each nation on its own Independence Day should celebrate its own independence; but it should rightly recognise the independence of others. Independence is raised on the fundamental rights of self-government which belongs to all people in all nations.
While the voices of the World have been raised, many in Zimbabwe have not yet been heard.
There remains no free press in Zimbabwe, so I am using the free news media of South Africa and the World so the people of Zimbabwe can be heard.
We are not alone. And the World is with us.
The World longs for us to take our rightful place again among the community of nations.
To my fellow Zimbabweans I cannot speak to you on the national media, but I speak to you from my heart – that freedom comes and your voice and your vote shall be heard.
The legal authority of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has expired.
Their moral authority has been laughed away. What ZEC says no longer matters.
What matters is the votes cast on 29th of March, and posted outside each polling station.
Those votes elected MDC as the majority in Parliament, and elected me as President of Zimbabwe.
The regime is conditioning people to believe that there is a run-off.
There is no run off: we won this election decisively.
In preparation for this, Robert Mugabe and his hand of criminals have unleashed an orgy of violence against the people.
As I speak, our people are being murdered, their homes are being burnt, children molested, women raped.
We have seen again the brutal vindictiveness of this man.
We want to thank President Mbeki for all his efforts, but President Mbeki needs to be relieved from his duty.
However, we’ve asked President Mwanawasa to lead a new initiative to urgently deal with the extraordinary situation we face at this moment.
We cannot wait another day, we cannot wait another week: we need a special envoy or a special committee or a delegation to come to Zimbabwe immediately, and deal with the issue following the Kenyan model. [A delegation] who will stay in the country until an agreement and a solution has been found.
Zanu-PF wants bloodshed, but instead we will shed light on that bloodshed.
We shall fight with the truth, and take the strength of our courage and conviction to see the value of life, law and liberty, return to our country and to our continent.
The movement has begun, and I ask you members of the media to join us in ensuring that the objective of democratic change in Zimbabwe is achieved.
I thank you.
In the absence of a free press in our country, Sokwanele is circulating this statement made by President Morgan Tsvangirai on the eve of our Independence Day. We are also including in this mailing a Statement released by the MDC party today (below), and we are providing a brief summary of some of the protests that have been taken place around the world, in support of the Zimbabwean pursuit of freedom and justice in our country.
We are not alone.
Statement from the MDC : 18 April 2008
Zanu PF hijacks people’s independence
Today the MDC would like to join all Zimbabweans in commemorating their 28th Independence anniversary.
18th of April is a day that we all cherish as it has brought us the independence that make us proud to be Zimbabweans and hold our heads high among other nations.
However, as we celebrate this occasion, it is sad to note that our independence anniversary has been discredited by the Zanu PF regime that is masquerading as a government and as the custodians of our independence.
Today the people of Zimbabwe have been denied a chance to celebrate their independence by an illegal regime that is denying them a chance to make sure that their gains of independence are enjoyed.
In the 29 March elections, Zimbabweans went to the polls in their millions and voted for change and a new beginning.
They voted for Morgan Tsvangirai as the President of Zimbabwe but however, 20 days after that day, the people of Zimbabwe’s hopes are being dashed as the results of the Presidential poll that President Tsvangirai won are being kept a secret by a scared regime.
We are in a calamity as the people who are supposed to be celebrating are instead being beaten up by the police, the army and Zanu PF militia.
Hundreds of innocent people including journalists are today in police custody. Homes of innocent villagers have been burnt in areas such as Mutoko, Murehwa, Chimanimani, Chipinge and Mudzi have been burnt to ashes simply because the people voted for the MDC in the last elections.
In urban areas, residents are being forced to be indoors by 8.00 pm by a regime that is scared because it is in power through illegal means.
People are now living in fear as the Zanu PF regime is using all forms of brutality in order to stay in power.
As we commemorate this day lets remember our colleagues who have been killed, beaten and left homeless by the Robert Mugabe regime. Lets remember Tapiwa Mubwanda who was ruthlessly killed by Zanu PF militia in Hurungwe last Saturday.
The world is taking action
This banner, measuring 278mÂ², was flown over the United Nations building in New York earlier this week at the same time that Thabo Mbeki was inside chairing a special meeting of the UN Security Council. To put the size into perspective, a football pitch measures approximately 210mÂ²; there is no doubt that Thabo Mbeki saw the message – whether he got the message remains to be seen.
In addition to that, Avaaz.org, the international organisation who organised the banner also delivered Thabo Mbeki a petition that has been signed by over 150,000 people so far. 150,000 people is a lot of signatures: it is the equivalent of the total number of people who voted in Matabeleland North province (according to ZEC figures!)
There are three days of protests taking place in London outside the Zimbabwean Embassy. They started yesterday and end tomorrow on the 19th April.
In Cape Town, two human rights groups joined forces and protested yesterday on behalf of Zimbabweans and against Thabo Mbeki’s statement that there was “no crisis” in Zimbabwe – the signs at the protest say it all.
Tomorrow, a public event will be held in The Hague – Africa Day 2008 – where the situation in Zimbabwe will be openly debated.
In another gesture of support for the people of Zimbabwe, we have been told that there has been a ‘media frenzy’ over reports that a Chinese ship docked in Durban has a consignment of weapons destined for Zimbabwe. The South African people are not at all happy about having anything to do with the oppression of the Zimbabwean people. Satawu – the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union – have come out and refused to offload the ship. Their general secretary, Randall Howard, said:
Satawu does not agree with the position of the South African government not to intervene with this shipment of weapons… Our members employed at Durban Container Terminal will not unload this cargo neither will any of our members in the truck driving sector move this cargo by road. He said the ship, the An Yue Jiang, should not dock in Durban and should return to China.
Satawu are planning to enlist the support of COSATU to strengthen their position.
Finally, also in South Africa, a group of Zimbabwean refugees have embarked on an amazing journey – a real march for freedom. They are walking all the way from Johannesburg to Musina to protest the fact the Presidential results have not been released yet.
Apparently people are warmly greeting the walkers all along their route: cars are hooting in solidarity; they are being offered money, food and water; and people are coming out to join them and walk for a bit. We hear that in one town they passed through, the mayor came out and welcomed them. They will arrive in Musina today.
The whole world can see what Robert Mugabe is trying to do and they are angry with his attempts to subvert the will of the people. They are also becoming increasingly frustrated with Thabo Mbeki’s ineffectual policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ .
We all remember that Thabo Mbeki recently popped in to visit Robert Mugabe and emerged from the meeting to declare that there was “no crisis” in Zimbabwe. Well, five short days later – yesterday – the South African government’s spokesperson has acknowledged the fact that “The situation is dire”.
Non violent action is having an impact. We are not alone Zimbabwe.
-SOKWANELE-Post published in: News