Harare, 8 March 2012
Vice President Hon. Thokozani Khupe
Members of the Standing Committee, the National Executive and the National Council
Hon. MPs and Senators here present
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
I feel greatly honoured to be part of this great event today.
Today is an important day for the people of Zimbabwe who are facing the sternest test yet as they brace for what is definitely a watershed period in this transition.
I am not going to deliver a speech, but I am merely going to restate the national wish for the conditions we all want before a credible election is held in this country.
The document we launch here today, the Conditions for a Sustainable Election in Zimbabwe (CoSEZ) captures our own expectations as the MDC on those conditions that should prevail in the country for a free and fair poll.
In fact, it is a misnomer to call it an MDC document because the conditions captured here are those things that all the parties to the coalition have agreed to in the GPA.
We are not seeking to reinvent the wheel, but to restate those conditions that we all have agreed to as political parties but which have fallen short at the implementation stage mainly because our coalition partners have decided to renege and to betray their own signatures.
The GPA is clear on what should happen before the next election if we are to have a free and fair election that should produce a credible and legitimate government.
Paramount among the things we have agreed are a new Constitution, political, electoral, media and other key reforms that are necessary to vaccinate the next election against the virus of 2008.
Instead of this transitional government implementing these key reforms, we have in fact witnessed intransigence in terms of pluralising the media, implementing the land audit, cessation of violence and security re-alignment, among other reforms.
Instead of the security sector realigning itself to the dictates of the new inclusive dispensation, we have instead been told by a few individuals at the helm of these sectors that anyone other than President Mugabe, even if they win an election, will not be able to take up their mandate.
They have even gone further to dismiss the significance of an electoral process by saying that they will not tolerate a new regime in Harare ushered in through the ballot because President Mugabe cannot be removed by a “mere pen which costs less than five cents.”
These are serious issues that need to be addressed so that the security of the person, the security of the vote and the security of the people’s will are all guaranteed before we even start to cast our ballots.
Media reforms as agreed in the GPA have not been implemented and the responsible Minister and his officials are arrogantly ducking from implementing what we have agreed as Principals, as Cabinet and as political parties.
They have instead gone further to ban foreign newspapers and to grant radio licences to companies aligned to a political party.
We have instead become a laughing stock because in this day and age, you cannot have a government that spends time crafting laws that control information rather than facilitate its dissemination!
In short, all the 24 issues agreed by the parties and endorsed by Cabinet, which would have created conditions for a free and fair election have not been implemented because they are some among us who regard reforms as a way of ceding power.
In this regard, we hope that the SADC facilitation team will be able to unlock some of the logjams and ensure that we abide by our own agreement and SADC’s own minimum conditions on the conduct of free and fair elections.
As the MDC and as critical stakeholders in the next election, today we are drawing a line in the sand by restating those conditions that will yield a credible poll and result in a peaceful poll in this country.
As a party, our participation in the next election will largely depend on the implementation of those reforms and the creation of conditions that SADC itself has laid as the baseline conditions for holding elections in this region.
The experience of disputed elections accompanied by needless loss of blood in Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast cannot be repeated and the conditions contained in the document we are launching today, which in any case are SADC’s minimum conditions for elections, will go a long way in closing the recurrence of violence and bloodshed.
We are heartened that the SADC region continues to restate the importance of key reforms ahead of the conduct of the next polls. This is important if we are to poise Zimbabwe towards a new path of progress, peace, stability and development and the region has an important role to play in this regard.
We are not afraid of an election but we will definitely not participate in a war. It is because of this that the MDC will not be stampeded into a sham election that is not predicated on the necessary reforms.
I wish to reiterate that the date for the next election is process-driven and until the conclusion of the Constitution-making process and the implementation of key media, electoral and political reforms will the President and I agree on a date for the polls.
Zimbabweans want a peaceful election and not a war. That is what the people of this country want and that is what SADC wants.
The whims of individuals and individual political parties cannot sway us away from the collective position that we have all adopted and agreed to in the GPA under the facilitation of SADC and guaranteed by the AU. That collective position is more important than individual and self-serving statements that may from time to time come from Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe, Arthur Mutambara or Welshman Ncube.
As Principals, we are now seized with the Constitution-making process and we have asked the COPAC management committee to furnish us with a trajectory of how they expect the process to pan out so that we can begin to have an idea of when we can hold the next election.
I am very clear on the process, that apart from the Constitution and other reforms, we have to look at the issue of the ZEC secretariat, a new voters’ roll, non-violence and other key steps necessary to ensure a free, fair and credible poll.
I said last week that we are aware of the plot to frustrate us, to wear us down and to force us out of this transitional arrangement but we have a mandate and a covenant with the people.
We will brave on and ensure that we hold a free and fair poll by creating an environment that will guarantee the security of the person, the security of the vote and the security of the people’s will.
The way forward for Zimbabwe remains a free and fair election but one only predicated by a process. Anything else would be a circus. A circus or a bloodbath masquerading as an election would be a mockery and an insult to South Africa, SADC and the AU who have all been painstakingly working for the past four years to ensure that we hold a credible poll and set the foundation for a prosperous Zimbabwe.
The lesson of 2008 is that Zimbabwe cannot afford anything other than a credible poll.
Zanu PF is stalling the election because most of the reforms reside in their ministries. If these are implemented tomorrow, we can go to an election any time. The ball is clearly in their court.
So as we launch this document, we are guided by the cries of death that we heard from all those victims of violence in 2008.
We have in our minds those who were abducted, including our parents and relatives who lost homes and who to this day bear visible scars of that violent election.
We still have in our minds all those who were murdered through Operation Mavhotera Papi; that shameful vengeful campaign in which many were butchered and maimed for simply voting for change.
We will not allow that to happen again.
And as long as we implement the minimum conditions in this document, Zimbabweans shall peacefully walk to the ballot, well aware that there will be no retribution for exercising their right to vote leaders of their choice.
The onus is on us in this coalition, on SADC and the AU to walk with us.
Today is International Women’s Day and I know that the women of this country have borne the brunt of violence and repression. We owe it to them to create a peaceful country and to enable them to pursue their dreams, to work for the country and above all to enable them to live and vote in peace.
As a country, we have walked the road of violence, fear and intimidation but we are not prepared to walk it forever more.
I remain hopeful that the people of this country will vote freely in the next election.
I know that they will use the next election to consign the past to the dustbin and vote for a future; a future that can only be guaranteed and sustained by an MDC government.
God bless You
And God bless Zimbabwe
I thank YouPost published in: News