Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s statement to the Press

Introduction

Good afternoon members of the press and I welcome you to this edition of the Prime Minister’s Press Day.

Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai

Firstly, I wish to commiserate with your fraternity at the sad loss of three of your colleagues in one day. The death of Orirando Manwere, Salatiel Mutasa and King Dube in the month of March, coming so soon after the death of Bornwell Chakaodza, Freedom Moyo and Makuwerere Bwititi in January, is a serious blow to the world of journalism in Zimbabwe and we stand by you in your moment grief.

We meet at a time of an impending food crisis, rising and renewed political tension in the country, increasing cases of violence and unnecessary political threats at a time when we want to anchor our country on values of peace and tolerance as we prepare for a watershed poll in our country.

The inclusive government

The inclusive government trudges on and we continue to strive, despite our political differences, to serve our country in these difficult circumstances. As I have often said, the nature of our coalition is such that it is always difficult to achieve maximum delivery especially after a misguided pronouncement of an election without the necessary reforms as the parties slide more into competition rather than collaboration.

However, the onus is on us as leaders to continue to nurse this delicate transition so that it does not implode to pulverise the achievements of this coalition and the prospect of a peaceful election anchored on key reforms.

The indigenisation policy continues to affect many sectors of the economy and the mixed messages have not helped matters. To this end, I am convening a special Council of Ministers meeting tomorrow to deal with this issue in the presence of all Ministers that have been affected. The fact is that you cannot have a Ministry of Investment Promotion while at the same time appearing to have adopted a policy that does not in any way promote investment in the country.

However, despite our differences, government has made the following key decision following the disturbing crop situation in the country.

About a third of the country’s crop is now a write-off and as government, we have decided that instead of a grain loan scheme, we must move to drought mitigation. We should generally operate on the premise that there is a drought in the country and the government is putting in place mechanisms to ensure that people are assisted to get food.

The responsible Ministries have ben tasked to ensure that this happens and also to ensure that the distribution of grain is done in a non-partisan manner.

International Relations

Two weeks ago, I travelled to London to address the Times CEO Africa conference.

Despite our bad politics, it is always encouraging to note that there is a lot of interest in investing in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular. We are sitting on huge potential and our small responsibility is to sort out our politics and we will definitely rediscover the full potential of this great country.

In Mali, Africa was once again shamed by those in the military who deposed an elected government and threw the country into uncertainty. We applaud the decision by ECOWAS and the international community to call for the return of Constitutional order and constitutional rule in the country.

Many African countries have their own cabals itching to subvert civilian processes and threatening to disrespect the will of the people. The good news is that time is not on their side and as we saw in the Ivory Coast, the world will not allow the bullet to triumph over the ballot.

In Senegal, an attempt by my friend Abdoulaye Wade to run for a third term backfired when the people chose to break with the past by electing a new leader.

And once again, as we saw in Zambia recently, there was peaceful transfer of power and we saw President Wade conceding defeat and allowing the country to move forward. I have since sent my congratulatory message to the new President and to the people of Senegal for projecting the correct image of a continent that is working hard towards entrenching a culture of democracy and respect for the will of the people.

Well done, Senegal.

Elections

We continue to work towards the next election, albeit with sharp differences over the nature and complexion of that election.

There has been slow movement on reforms as our colleagues view any reform as a form of conceding power. For us, reforms are a fulfilment of what we agreed upon and signed up to, both in the GPA and in the roadmap that was facilitated by SADC.

We continue to insist that any credible poll must be predicated by reforms and that is why last month, my party launched a document, CoSEZ (Conditions for a Sustainable Election in Zimbabwe).

These conditions are not a pie in the sky, but the minimum conditions that even SADC itself has adopted as the basic condition for the holding of a free and fair poll in any country in the region.

We will insist on those conditions.

We will fight for those conditions.

And indeed, we will urge SADC to insist on its own conditions in Zimbabwe.

We say so because of the emerging violence in the country.

A human rights group has recorded the increase of violations from 365 in January to 413 in February. The group expects these violations to further escalate in the coming months because of election talk that is not accompanied by any talk about the necessary reforms.

Chipangano continues to wreak havoc and I wish to deplore the comments attributed to Mr Tendai Savanhu of Zanu PF who publicly threatened the elected MP of Marondera, Hon. Ian Kay.

It is deplorable that in this day and age, one can publicly threaten an MP simply because of his race.

It is because of these statements, and the violence that continues to rock places such as Mbare that we insist on the right conditions for a credible poll.

We urge SADC to keep an eye on developments in Zimbabwe. As a nation, we still await the deployment of the three officials to join JOMIC to monitor violence in the country and to ensure the implementation of agreed reforms.

There have been misguided pronouncements about dates for elections and the holding of the referendum. I wish to state that those dates will be determined by a process and not by a resolution of any organ of a political party.

As Principals we expect a draft of the Constitution, which is one of the key reforms before we hold any election. And I wish to restate what I said in Parliament recently that while individual political parties may claim to want an election without a new Constitution, there is no such position in government.

We all want the elections held yesterday with the proviso that they be done after the completion of the Constitution-making process and the institution of those reforms that we have agreed upon.

Surely, as government, we cannot fund a process that we are not keen to embrace. So indeed we await the completion of this process and the institution of other reforms before we hold an election, whose date the President and I will agree upon in accordance with the law.

Conclusion

I urge all of us to help nurture this delicate transition.

The next election is not about cheap rhetoric, misleading people and firing cheap broadsides at the region and the facilitator simply because one wants to placate the hardliners in their political party.

The next election is about respecting the regional effort and putting in place mechanisms to ensure that we have a credible poll that will usher in a legitimate government.

Lastly, as we celebrate this Easter holiday, let us all think about the importance of sacrifice.

The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross signifies the importance of sacrifice.

Leadership is about sacrifice. Leaders should sacrifice on behalf of the people and not vice versa.

As we remember the death of our Lord, we must take his death as symbolic of the death of violence so that we could all live in peace again.

On Saturday, I attended a prayer meeting at Sakubva stadium in Mutare and was humbled by the national demand for peace in the country.

At that forum, I shared with the congregation the scriptures from Exodus 1, verse 8-22. We learn from that scripture that God has a plan for everything, that we have choices to make as individuals, that if we choose to harm our neighbours we will face the wrath of God and that it is possible to refuse to carry out an instruction that causes harm to others.

Indeed, I wish a happy Easter holiday to the people of Zimbabwe.

As we unite with friends, family and relatives, let us all pray for this nation and its leaders.

Let us bow our heads before God because I know that He has great plans for this country and its people.

I thank You

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