Prime Minister’s address to the Southern African Liaison Office – Pretoria

morgan_explainingRepresentatives of the Southern African Liaison Office and Idasa, Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Members of the civic society, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be with you today. (Pictured: Morgan Tsvangirai)

In particular, I wish to recognize Ambassador Sten Rylander who has not only been a strong supporter of the SALO, but has, over many years, proven himself to be a true friend of the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for a truly democratic society. Ambassador, I know that you will be retiring soon and I trust that you will continue to support and visit Zimbabwe. I can assure you that you will always be welcomed as a friend and comrade. Before I begin my briefing, let me also express my pride as an African that our continent will be hosting the FIFA World Cup next month. I wish to acknowledge the enormous amount of work and commitment invested in this event by all South Africans, which will undoubtedly ensure the success of the tournament. I eagerly look forward to attending the opening ceremony next weekend.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is good to be amongst friends here today who share a vision of a truly free Zimbabwe, in which all of our people can live in peace, opportunity, hope and prosperity. This type of platform allows for a frank exchange of views and I trust that in both this briefing and afterwards I am able to answer some of the questions and concerns which you might have. I know that you too share my frustrations at the slow pace of reform that has followed the formation of the new government in Zimbabwe. Being a partner in this marriage of convenience has been a painful experience but a strategic necessity that will enable us to reach our destination albeit uncomfortably. We do not necessarily share the same vision and values with our colleagues in government .

Democracy is about respecting the will of the people. Many of us may have hoped but few of us really believed that the transition to democracy would happen overnight in Zimbabwe. In the last elections, the people expressed a clear and unequivocal will for real change in Zimbabwe. What they got was short of what they wished for; but at least the process of change has started. The challenge is now to keep that change coming, to keep it peaceful and free of further violence, and to make it irreversible. The formation of this inclusive Government allowed us the opportunity to halt, and to begin to reverse Zimbabwes terrifying acceleration towards a failed state. But we are not out of the woods yet. On a daily basis, and at any given turn we face dogged resistance to change from one of the partners in this government.

We have a section of the buarecracy that continues to resist any changes to the status quo and a security establishment leadership that no longer feels safe in the unfolding new political dispensation. Whether it is resistance to implement agreed democratic reforms; or the looting and misuse of state funds and resources; or the lack of respect for the rule of law and the constitution; or simply the ruthless determination to retain or usurp power at all costs and by whatever means all of this shows how fragile this marriage is, and how fragile the transition process is in Zimbabwe. Just last week, President Mugabe unilaterally appointed five new judges, including a Judge President, without even a nod to the undertakings he had signed: to consult with me, and to protect the fundamental principles of independence and non-partisanship of the judiciary.

Being in Government with a partner who does not respect the very agreement which they signed up to as a basis for that partnership… is a challenge, to put it mildly. It is now abundantly clear that ZANU PF never intended to implement much of what they signed up to. Fortunately for us though, and for the people of Zimbabwe, the world and most importantly, the region is watching. That agreement, the GPA, was brokered and guaranteed by SADC. And SADC has proved that they are determined to see it respected and implemented. We all know that the essence of implementing the GPA means implementing the reforms necessary to allow the people of Zimbabwe to express their will clearly, unequivocally, and without fear of violence in the next elections.

And fortunately, one of the things which President Mugabe and I do agree on is that those elections need to happen next year. The main purpose of this marriage of convenience therefore is to get us embark on a roadmap to those elections without a return to violence, and to ensure foolproof ground rules for are laid and above all that they are free and fair and vote is secured and respected. With enough active support from our friends in the region, I believe that this is possible. Despite all the frustrations and the deceptions, we have actually made some reasonable progress:

– The Constitutional Process is delayed, but finally underway. Outreach is due to start now in a little over two weeks.

– We have agreed on a series of Electoral Reforms which will go some way towards tackling the iniquities and dangers of the current system.

– Yesterday the Zimbabwe Media Commission issued the licenses for four new independent daily newspapers to be published in Zimbabwe.

These are all part of the mix of reforms that are needed for free and fair elections to be held next year. There is a whole lot more to do, but we are now finally underway. It is a protracted process. I know and appreciate how seriously many of our regional partners view the situation in Zimbabwe, and how committed they are to ensure that the country does not once again slide down the road towards failure as it did before the last elections. I appreciate and salute their concerted and continuous efforts to support my country and to support the people of Zimbabwe. No-one can afford for Zimbabwe to fail again. And with the right will and the right determination from all actors, we can ensure that it does not.

Of course, coming back and staying back from the brink is not just about securing democratic reforms. My party was also elected to turn around the failing economy and to start to rebuild the shattered infrastructure of Zimbabwe-. Here again, we are deeply reliant on our partners, regionally and internationally. And we have received a great deal of support in this regard. Throughout the most difficult times, and until today, the international community has supported the Zimbabwean people by guaranteeing basic livelihoods when the state was no longer able to do so, and by intervening to protect and support critically basic health and education services. I am immensely grateful for this support, and look forward to it continuing and evolving as the Government slowly recovers its ability to look after its own citizens.

As we look forward to the Friends of Zimbabwe meeting in Oslo next week, I also hope that we can make swift progress in rebuilding my countrys infrastructure. Zimbabwes infrastructure has been decimated by mismanagement and corruption over a period of many years. And this is a huge obstacle to economic regeneration. To secure the countrys long-term stability, livelihoods and growth, we will need a great deal help to rebuild this infrastructure. I am delighted that the African Development Bank is taking a lead in this area, and I believe strongly that the ADBs leadership and management of a Multi-Donor Fund will be of immense and lasting benefit to the people of Zimbabwe.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this last year has been a steep learning curve for me and for my party, the MDC. No-one expected it to be easy, and none of us went into this marriage with a light or a nave heart. We have had to learn the difficult business of government and the messy business of coalition politics at the same time. I am proud of the progress we have made, and of our ability to stand together despite all the challenges we have faced.

But we have made mistakes, and I am the first to acknowledge these and to commit to learning from these mistakes. At times, we have been too caught up in our problems, and thereby distanced ourselves from our traditional partners and our allies. That is a mistake. At times, too, we have been so distracted by the daily battles we fight in government that we have lost some of the focus on the clear principles for which we were elected. That is a grave mistake.

Fortunately, the MDC is a truly democratic party, and our grassroots are there to hold the leadership to account, to remind us of what we stand for, and to bring us back on course. On the 16th of May, the partys National Council met and made a number of very clear resolutions, amongst them were the following:

That, the parties and the Principals of the parties must take measures to implement and execute the agreed positions as reflected in the Negotiators report dated the 3rd of April 2010 and more importantly, must enforce and uphold the Implementation Matrix as prepared by the Negotiators.

On indigenization, the MDC believes in broad-based empowerment for the people and for this reason condemns the current proposed indigenization regulations on the basis that they are elitist, selective and a mere vehicle for further enrichment of the rich few, self aggrandizement, patronage and further destruction of the economy.

The party noted with concern the lack of transparency and due process in the handling of diamonds at Chiadzwa and in the granting of concessions and mining rights in the same.

It resolved that due process of the law and all court orders issued in respect of the Chiadzwa claims should be honoured and respected and that that all income from Chiadzwa should be accounted for transparently to the State to enable the same to attend to capital and recurrent expenditure and in particular the adequate remuneration of civil servants.

There is no room for wayward involvement of some wings of the security forces in the mining of diamonds as evidenced by the issuance of licenses to some of them. This will only destruct them from their core business of national policing and security.

The MDC leadership also called for rapid intervention by SADC to resolve the implementation of the GPA and also to clearly define the roadmap to an election and the guarantees to the legitimacy of this election. Which brings us back to the question of next years elections and the future of Zimbabwe after those elections. As I have already said, I believe that with the continued support of SADC and in particular President Zuma and his team who have shown enormous commitment over recent months we can get to, and through, these elections with dignity and without violence.

It is then that the challenge of establishing a truly stable, democratic and peaceful Zimbabwe will really begin. And that will be a challenge in which all Zimbabweans will need to play an active role. Any post-election Government will need the full and active support of the Civil Service, the Uniformed Services, and Civil Society.

It is a remarkable testament to the character and strength of Zimbabweans: just how skilled and professional each of these groups has remained, despite and throughout the disaster of the last ten years. I find it immensely reassuring to know that the skills, the professionalism and the determination remain to serve and to serve well. It will not be an easy task to recover fully from the wounds of the past, especially when so many of them have been self-inflicted. But I know that we can do so without rancour and without revenge. And in this task, I know that we will enjoy the full support of our friends and allies, and in particular of South Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for all these reasons, I am both confident and excited about the future of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean people have shown remarkable resilience and a determination to fight for what is right, and for what should be theirs. And their friends in the region and beyond represented by many of you here today have shown your determination to stand by us, to support us and to help us. In conclusion I wish to reiterate that one of the critical reforms being undertaken is the constitution making process and I am aware of the differing positions on the process and the misgivings about the nature and role of the people. We in the MDC believe that getting bogged on process and not content may be akin to aiming at the trees and missing the woods. Any opportunity to level the playing field should be seized by all those who have fought gallantly for the constitution reform agenda.

That, I firmly believe, is a winning team. Together, we will be able to build the Zimbabwe which I, like all Zimbabweans, have dreamed of.

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