My Fellow Zimbabweans

Throughout the world people are commemorating the 90th birthday of one of Africa's greatest leaders, Nelson Mandela.

To Mr. Mandela, we say, Makorokoto. You remain a shining light to our people, to me, and to fellow leaders in the struggle for true liberation of all our people.

As Mr. Mandela sagely advised years ago, the road to freedom is long and requires great sacrifices. Our colleagues in the MDC and the democratic

movement – students, churches, civil society organizations – have all made courageous sacrifices on this long road to free Zimbabwe from tyranny.

As a result of your brave spirit and peaceful heroism, the international community knows now more than ever that Zimbabwe’s leadership crisis has hit

new depths of shame. They know Mr. Mugabe is an illegitimate President. Your voices were heard. SADC, AU and Pan African Parliament observers heard your voices on June 27th and reported to the world your words: “this is not an election,” you said, “this is a war to silence the people.”

So, my Fellow Zimbabweans, are we today still strong enough and brave enough to make it through the next stage of our liberation? We are tired, yes. But, of course, we shall not give up! We shall not waiver now! The will of the people shall prevail!

As much as some would try to confuse our people with mind games, detours and delays, we still know what we want. Our goal has not changed. We must not let exhaustion and despair cause us to lose sight of our only destination –

a New Zimbabwe where once again our people enjoy the basics of life – food, jobs, dignity, peace and hope. We are in a different struggle now. There are those who want to wear us down. There are those who want to wear down your belief that change is possible. They want us to forget that we are the winners – that we won a historic victory on 29 March. There are those who want each and every one of us to feel beaten, physically and psychologically – into submission and into compromise.

But, let me tell you now, their attacks have had the opposite result. Those who have tried to crush our spirits have not succeeded. They have further

emboldened us. Our people still want change. Our people still demand change.

Where are we then, today? So many mixed messages and lies are being told to our people. Now is the time for truth. Now is the time to stop the violence. Now is the time to take genuine steps to move the process forward.

Many of our brothers and sisters in Africa, from SADC to the AU, continue tostand with the people of Zimbabwe as we begin this process. On this historic  day of celebration of Madiba’s birthday, another important meeting has taken place between President Mbeki and AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping. A result of this meeting, we welcome today’s appointment of a reference group of eminent Africans who will work with President Mbeki and the main parties in Zimbabwe to find a peaceful negotiated solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.

As we strive to restore the dignity of our country and our people, we pray that those in the regime in the position to halt the violence, persecution

and starvation of our people will immediately and urgently do so. We pray that without delay they demonstrate their genuine commitment to a

negotiation process that heals our ravaged land and violently betrayed people.

My fellow Zimbabweans, we share with our colleagues from throughout the democratic movement the deep desire to end the crisis as soon as possible

without sacrificing justice or fairness. We share with the people of Zimbabwe the deep concern that normality and stability must be restored immediately. We share with our fellow Zimbabweans in the security services

the deep awareness that they are still being asked to carry out activities that breach professional codes of conduct. We share with many of our fellow

Zimbabweans in ZANU PF the profound hope and belief that the time to heal the country is now.

On this day where the world celebrates the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela – his heroic vision, tolerance, forgiveness and humility – let us

all set our sights on ending our own leadership crisis – also with vision, tolerance, forgiveness and humility.

Together let us agree to do the right thing for the Zimbabwean people. Together let us respect their voices as expressed on 29 March.

Together let us rise above the divisive paranoia, fear and selfishness that chains us to endless poverty. Together let us finally deliver to the

Zimbabwean people the true liberation and peace they so desperately wait for. We have a historic opportunity to bring healing and hope.

Together let us begin. – Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC President

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