Tsvangirai addresses all political parties

President Robert Mugabe Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara Professor Welshman Ncube Executive members of political parties here present Ladies and gentlemen

Morgan Tsvangirai,
Morgan Tsvangirai,

This is the text of his address:

Today is a great day for the people of Zimbabwe and I hope every one of us appreciates the importance of this historical gathering.

Because today we have an opportunity to shape history, to bring peace to our land and to consign violence to the dustbins.

We meet here as leaders of political parties because we have the power to influence our constituencies, to tell our followers to shun violence, to pursue peace and to engage in civilised political campaigns with neither violence, intimidation nor coercion.

We are gathered here as leaders of our nation.

Everything rises or falls with leadership.

Because where there is no leadership, there is no progress.

Where there is no leadership, there is no development.

Where there is no leadership, there are no blessings.

And where there is no leadership, there is no deliverance.

Because political violence is a national curse.

I am happy that the President is here because in our Monday meetings, I have brought before his attention the issue of violence and how it has soiled our politics and the image of the country in the region, in Africa and the broader international community.

I have brought before his attention the blood unnecessarily shed in the villages, on the farms and in all our communities simply because one is MDC and the other Zanu PF.

I have brought before his attention the embarrassing case where even elected MPs were brutally assaulted in Parliament while the police watched and it is sad to note that to date, there has been no single arrest.

On Monday, when I spoke to the President about the violence in Chitungwiza, the President’s words were “Why are people being beaten up?”

Mr President, you expressed abhorrence to violence and I sincerely hope it was not expedient, but a genuine expression that the people of this country must have a right to choose what they want.

Violence is a collective national shame because one does not necessarily have to shed blood to convince people to follow and believe in their politics.

One might as well quit politics and become a common criminal given to harassing, abusing and maiming people without the tag of politics.

So today we meet here to chart a new path for national peace, national development and prosperity.

Because there cannot be any prosperity and development in this country without peace.

So peace in this country will unlock hidden opportunities, give the people reprieve and allow them to differ with dignity, respect and tolerance.

And peace is impossible in a poisoned environment of war and conflict; in a country where we continue to butcher each other simply because we belong to different political parties.

I was in Gutu a month ago at the memorial service of the late Professor Mukonoweshuro and the chiefs there delivered a strong message to political parties to shun violence, intimidation and murder.

They said they were tired of being abused by politicians and called for a peaceful election in the country.

We must all feel challenged by respected elders such as our chiefs calling for peace; telling us as politicians to leave them in peace so that they can pursue and live their dreams.

Over 80 percent of Zimbabweans are Christians and a prayerful nation cannot be a nation of violence.

As we trudge towards the next election, we must all pray for peace in the country, peace in the homes, peace in the communities and peace among the political parties as a pre-condition for creating a better society and a better foundation for future generations.

This nation demands a prayerful leadership, a God-fearing leadership that values peace and shuns the shedding of the blood of innocent citizens.

A God-fearing leadership that abhors violence and that embraces the spirit of love and togetherness.

And that national leadership that must make an oath against violence is in this room today!

The real work starts today with the meeting of this leadership of political parties that should call for peace in this land.

The men and women in this room must all ask themselves whether they are not the perpetrators of the violence that has pervaded the country; indeed whether we are not the ones that instruct our cells and our branches to beat up people and force them to support our parties, to buy our cards and to attend our rallies and meetings.

This meeting is a good start in creating a new culture of peace and tolerance in our structures.

But it is not enough to meet as the national executive of the MDC or the Politburo and central committee of Zanu PF to speak about peace.

This programme must cascade down to the lowest structures; the branch and the cell so that we have our people at that level preaching non-violence and tolerance.

Our lowermost structures must establish joint committees to monitor violence and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book.

I know that Vice President John Nkomo will be coming up with a code of conduct for political parties, a covenant which must bind us all along the path of virtuous politics.

I hope that code of conduct will not be another piece of paper, like the piece of paper to which we have turned the GPA.

Because the time has now come for us to set the ground rules.

Because there must be consequence for political violence and any breaches to that code of conduct.

I urge the law enforcement agents to begin to take their national responsibilities seriously.

State agencies, especially the police, must protect the people and not harm them.

When some members of the police, the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation are at the forefront of perpetrating violence and intimidating people, it means ordinary citizens have no recourse because they expect to be protected by the same institutions.

The GPA is clear that State organs must be non-partisan. State organs and institutions, especially security agents do not belong to any political party but they service all Zimbabweans in their political diversity and when they fail to do their job, it marks the beginning of failed State.

The current disposition of State actors in sponsoring instability by commission or ommission and the effect of their actions manifests a failure of state institutions.

We all signed up to that agreement and no one was forced into appending a signature.

There is therefore no reason why anyone should undermine this country by undermining that Agreement that we all signed voluntarily.

The people of Zimbabwe are tired of rhetoric and lip service.

They want to see us go beyond speaking against violence.

They want to see us acting peace by preaching tolerance and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to book.

Violence such as the one we experienced in 2008 must be a thing of the past.

In the forthcoming election, we will as candidates and political parties, be seeking a mandate from the people. Violence is an undignified way of interfering with the people’s sovereign right to choose their leaders.

Stone-age campaigns such as Operation Mavhotera Papi that we saw in 2008 was an uncivilised way of interfering with the sacrosanct right of the people to make their own political choices.

As Morgan Tsvangirai, I pledge to ensure that I and the party I lead play peaceful politics by shunning violence, coercion and intimidation.

I urge my colleagues to make the same commitment and to urge their supporters to commit themselves to peace.

I urge the police to be non-partisan and to arrest everyone and anyone who commits acts of violence even if they are MDC.

By the same measure, I hope that the police will arrest perpetrators of violence, even if they are Zanu PF.

I reiterate what I said at a prayer meeting in Bulawayo a few weeks ago, that Zimbabweans want a new era in this country; where knives, machetes, knobkerries, guns and booted feet as instruments of violence and repression are no longer fashionable.

As political parties, we have agreed to non-violence as enshrined in the Global Political Agreement and all SADC resolutions have called upon us as political actors to ensure a non-violent, credible and legitimate election.

God is against a violent people and that is why he condemned a whole creation to death because of corruption and violence.

“And God said unto Noah, The end of the flesh is come before me, for the Earth is filled with violence; and behold, I will destroy them with the Earth.” (Genesis 6: verse 13)

I have faith that as political parties we will not be condemned for our violence; that we will continue to pray for peace and that we will return to civilised politics where the doctrine of Tsvimbo mugotsi will be consigned to the dustbins of history.

Let us leave this meeting aware of its historic significance and its potential to change the history and culture of this country.

Let us ensure that our message of peace is cascaded down to the provinces, the districts, the wards, the branches and the cells.

Let our political leaders at the various levels be the epitome of tolerance and non-violence.

Political contestation should not breed enmity and let us all be alive to the fact that we are political opponents and not enemies.

We are political protagonists and not foes.

Finally, I want to say let us differ with dignity, well aware that we may be MDC or Zanu PF but that ultimately, we are Zimbabweans who aspire for the best for our country and its people.

The future of this country lies in the actions that we in this room decide to take or not to take.

Whatever decisions we make on behalf of the people we represent, I hope we will all be able to stare history in the face and be proud that we discharged of our duties to the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe.

Yes, the future of this country is in our hands.

In 2006, my father died. He was two years younger than President Mugabe. It therefore means that this transition is both political and generational.

Over the last two and half years, our relationship has evolved from acrimony to mutual respect even if we differ on matters of principle.

We have graduated from being political enemies to political opponents, which everyone here and below must emulate.

Zimbabwe has endured pain of the past such that its agenda should be not be only to restore the legacy of the liberation struggle, but to achieve reconciliation, reconstruction and recovery without engaging in retribution.

Those that believe that if they can't have it, then no one should have it, had better think twice (Ndidzo dzinonzi shaisano). A scorched earth policy which does not benefit the nation.

The challenge for your generation Mr President, with so much experience, is to bestow the value of peace and stability in the country, assured that this can only come from within us and not from outside.

We cannot afford to slide back to the period of subjugation, which had undermined the independence and dignity of the Zimbabwean people for which so many perished.

However, we cannot continue to harp on our past achievements while undermining a sustainable future that is well within our grip and capacity.

The people are at the centre of our future and development and ultimately, have the mandate to give true legitimacy to the leadership of their free choice.

We must never lose sight of this truth which must guide our every action.

It is not enough to be convinced about the need to confront and eliminate the scourge of violence, but we must convert it to tolerance and peaceful co-existence for the future of our country.

It is not enough to be convinced. We must have the conviction that peace will come well within our lifetime.

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