Morgan Tsvangiryi Speaks
On Saturday, the Churches in Zimbabwe held a National Convention to
the crisis in Zimbabwe and the way forward. The meetiung attracted a
number of delegates - 300 plus - and representatives of the Unions,
groups and 5 political parties attended. The meeting was chaired and
fascilitated by the Christian Alliance.
Morgan Tsvangirai played a key role and this is his address to the
Convention. Because of time constraints he did not read this at the
but spoke to it. It makes interesting reading and I commend it to you.
addition to this speech, Morgan called all five political leaders to
podium to pledge their commitment to unity of purpose and action in the
weeks ahead. The road map was accepted as was a draft "democracy
All constituent bodies are now being asked to register as part of a
Aliance to Save Zimbabwe" and within 7 days the leaders of this
will meet to agree on a combined action progragramme designed to force
PF to come to the negotiating table.
Bulawayo, 31 July 2006.
Tsvangirai address the Save Zimbabwe convention
Political Perspectives to the national crisis
Address by Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the Movement for Democratic
Change at the Save Zimbabwe Convention, Harare, Zimbabwe.
29 July 2006
May I open my address by thanking civil society and the people of
for staying the course? Against all odds, civil society has never
matters of principle. You are with the people, as always. The record
for itself. In colonial times, it was the church, student movements
trade unions that spearheaded the struggle for freedom. After
the people remained vigilant, constantly demanding their democratic
At the end of the first decade of our Independence, it became clear
revolution was fast losing track. An avaricious nationalistic clique
abandoned the ideals of the liberation struggle. Corruption began to
flourish. Our nation's political leadership began to lose their focus.
labour movement came under pressure from the workers to de-link itself
that ruling elite. The ZCTU declared its autonomy from Zanu PF. We
informed and guided by the workers whose welfare was now on the block.
The workers were concerned by a steady erosion of their gains since
Independence and decided to confront both their employers and the
government. The people raised their voices and demanded their space.
Zanu PF's response included far-reaching legislative changes to
academic freedom. This invited the anger of students and progressive
intellectuals. They, too, like the workers, declared a rights dispute
the government. After the unification of Zanu PF and PF ZAPU and the
declaration of intent to establish a one-party state, Zimbabweans
that they faced a hard transition and began to search for political
The introduction of Economic Structural Adjustment Programme in 1991
heightened the ideological confusion in Zanu PF and opened the way for
greater confrontation between the workers, the church, students and
advocates of free political space. We felt then that part of the
with the Lancaster House Constitution. We began to agitate for a new
Constitution. This led to the formation of the Constitutional Movement
the mid-nineties. After years of struggle along this route, we met as
National Working Peoples' Convention to debate our fate.
The National Working Peoples' Convention
In short, the National Working Peoples' Convention decided then to
alternative political movement to take on Zanu PF. We agreed, as civil
society, to challenge Zanu PF and to attend to pressing governance
whose contagion cut across our political, social and economic life.
months later, the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, became a
February, Zanu PF tested his first defeat in a national referendum to
on a government drafted Constitution.
That was another major turning point in Zimbabwe. It was a people's
victory. This was the first victory for civil society. It is not my
intention at this forum to chronicle six years of struggle and intense
political activity in Zimbabwe. But let me place on record that a
Mugabe, in response to the crisis, targeted the people. Mugabe
war with the people. Mugabe declared a war with the world. The aim was
stretch the MDC and to test the people's resilience and seriousness.
his peers, Mugabe failed to work out an exit strategy when it was clear
he had outlived his usefulness.
For two decades, our national and institutional systems failed to
growing internal frictions and tensions arising from a self-created
of governance. The existing institutions and governance methods no
worked. To this day, Zimbabwe finds itself saddled with persistent
imbalances, which can no longer be sustained because of numerous
deficits. However, these imbalances and policy flip-flops, which have
affected all of us, show a dictatorship flame-out that should offer us
superb opportunity to start afresh.
Together, we are bearing the brunt of the social, economic and
costs of the dictatorship. The MDC, as you all know is an institution
arose from a resolution of the National Working People's Convention.
is the political face of the people's struggle. The MDC is a mere
the people's resistance. But the bulk of the work rests with all of
the people, through the party, civil society and through you. The view
the National Working People's Convention was that a political
should challenge the status quo and to bring about change. The birth
MDC was a people's response to an unbearable set of circumstances
Our main strategy was to take on the regime at the ballot box. We
this approach. But the people were unable to assume power. The
responded in a manner that has surprised the world. It is fair to
on our part, we seriously under-estimated the dictator's ability and
determination to defy reasonable opinion. As we review the performance
the entire democratic movement, an opportunity presents itself for
self-introspection. It is a fact that the MDC is still more of a
movement than a political party in the strict sense of the word. We
support from everywhere, literally. Our support emerges from any
to see a new dispensation, a new democratic framework, and a New
While some in civil society may argue that they have no vested
attaining political power as individuals, they remain an indispensable
of this liberation culture.
After February 2000 and the wholesale destabilization of commercial
agriculture and the rule of law, the MDC attracted millions of new
new supporters, new sympathizers and new allies whose ideological
were at variance with the thrust of the initiators of the MDC project.
Conservatives, liberals, democrats, socialists, patriots, anarchists
extremists in our society and beyond found a home in the MDC, creating
that was not only difficult to manage but highly open to infiltration,
manipulation and opportunism.
The mix became pronounced more glaringly in our international relations
regime. Liberal democrats sought an association with us; so did the
conservatives and liberals. They invited us to join their international
solidarity groups and to take up membership of the same. But our
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, is social democracy. Quite often we
embarrassed to be lumped in the same basket with rebel African rag-tag
ornamental opposition forces and extremely conservative and racial
These contradictions have earned us a lot of misunderstandings and
Our goal is to complete the unfinished agenda of the liberation
extend the people's freedoms. Our objective remains and has always
search for a lasting solution to the national crisis. Our vision is a
We have tried everything: elections, dialogue, local and international
lobbying, symbolic mass action, judicial redress and the law, and
Parliamentary pressure. We know something out of all that. While we
some inroads here and there in exposing the weaknesses of the
we believe we now have to break new ground in order to make real
The experiences of the past six years are instructive. Countrywide,
people are demanding a short final phase of the struggle. We all
that a long struggle wears down its own activists and supporters. A
struggle tends to be overwhelmed by unexpected challenges and changed
circumstances. Many expected a short and clean sweep, but that was not
We have to be realistic: you can't put time frames to a struggle of
nature. Together, we have been exposed to a serious onslaught from the
regime. That onslaught almost disorganized us.
The final phase of our struggle
As we enter the decisive and final phase of our struggle, allow me Mr.
Chairman, ladies and gentlemen to reflect on my experience and to
place a forecast on what lies before us. The roots of this struggle
on a serious national grievance: a grievance that is at the heart of
national politics. The MDC represents a rallying cry for the
an uncompleted national agenda, a national assignment and a national
We cherish a value system that bound us together to confront
Zimbabweans always believed in, and even fought for, justice. We
dignity. The concept of hunhu hwe munhu or ubuntu, has guided our
in our homes, in our communities and in our natural interactions with
neighbours from time immemorial. We long for liberty and personal
advancement. We aspire for a society with equal opportunities. Our
calls on us to support each other. We believe in stability and
people, we are natural social democrats.
Zimbabweans look in hope and a deep longing for a united nation.
chests moves a spirit that seeks to express freely the basic traits of
common humanity and togetherness, which for so long has been
negatively exploited by a variety of political parasites.
We feel betrayed because we never expected the nationalistic elite to
replace the colonial administrator at Independence and perpetuate
inequality, political corruption and divisions in our society. We
the seriousness and the changed, modern-day credentials of the new
in our midst, the new elite in power. We realized that Zanu PF's
debate was flawed right from the beginning - it was based on a narrow
principle of equality across race and colour. The party failed to see
this, such that today, we live in a society soaked in black-on-black
Colonialism taught us that a minority always tampers with our national
values. A minority thrives on a patronage system. A minority develops
cartels and breeds corruption. And when challenged, a greedy minority
power often retreats into a distorted form of nationalism and invokes
of the unknown; a minority looks to our colonial past for
As I said earlier, after 20 years of abuse our national institutions
systems gave in. The crisis of governance reached a stage when it was
longer possible to keep the lid on. The people refused to be cowed
submission. Today, Zimbabweans desire and demand a leadership, at all
levels, with a clear vision, a national sense of modesty, and much
born of honest and patriotic concern to articulate our common
common goals and our Zimbabwean identity within the global community.
Zimbabweans are keen to restore their confidence in the concept of
service and public good. After a serious bruising and more than two
of unfulfilled promises and political deception, the people eagerly
leaders with hearts and minds large enough for the urgent task of
to our immediate humanitarian emergencies, national healing, national
reconstruction, justice and equality. There is a national consensus
accepting that it will take a great deal of hard work, personal
patriotism to bring us together and rebuild our tattered lives and our
Zimbabweans expect an extension of a system of values that celebrates
sanctity of life and an unfettered extension of freedom. As a people
heart of danger and struggling with hard transition, we must exercise
caution and demand irreversible safeguards to insulate the nation
possible future abuse, regardless of who is in power. The people
permanent opening for liberty, personal security and collective
We risk sliding into a form of generational irrelevance; we risk
national disability unless we show leadership and confront the
at a time when literally the nation is fully behind us.
More than at any juncture in the past, this is certainly the time we
take a proactive stance and work out the necessary political and
institutional arrangements that will form the basis of a broadly
sustainable solution to the crisis. The crisis here may be clear to
Zimbabwean, but not to Robert Mugabe and a few of powerful cronies and
associates. Their mental block has become a major source of national
implosion. Mugabe and his team are failing to connect with something
than their personal egos. As a result, their leadership is unable to
Zimbabwean life any meaning at all.
We believe the time has come for Robert Mugabe to step aside because
become an unacceptable national liability. He has lost himself. He
stuck in a time warp and within the myth of measurement, propelling
think that if he goes, Zimbabwe will varnish. In life, you cannot
what you have done, especially that which is good. We recognize
contribution to the liberation struggle. However, we differ with his
apparent reluctance to take an exit package and to enjoy, in
otherwise noble position as one of the icons of the liberation
a founding father of modern Zimbabwe.
We find discomfort in his insistence to cling on to power, run the
aground and destroy the future of millions of young people. We believe
longer has the ideas and the energy to grapple with the needs of a new
generation to pilot the ship of state in the right direction. But, we
need him to assist us in this transition because while he is the
the problem and he is also part of the solution.
With his concurrence and influence, we can soft-land the crisis;
main goal of completing the unfinished business from the liberation
and realize our vision of a new Zimbabwe. If Mugabe allows Zimbabweans
to search for an honest national solution, the discussion will be over
few hours because we all know and agree on what needs to be done to
the nation out of the woods. Leadership must give meanings to the
others. Leadership requires an honest application of love and an open
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the MDC is fully behind an orderly
transition to a new Zimbabwe. We are against any form of retribution.
against the use of force to settle political scores. We pledge to
past to guide, and not to derail, us as we work into the future. We
never allow history and our personal preferences or grievances to
with this vision.
We support a democracy charter as a moral, contractual barometer for
society and a guiding expression of our national values, regardless of
is in government. We are unhappy with the unnecessary delay in
national crisis at a time when all Zimbabweans, across the political
are agreed on the fundamental issues confronting our country.
We are dismayed that despite the national consensus on the need for a
Zimbabwe, some among us wish to see Zimbabwe burn when we know our
and politically we have the solutions. For instance, the nation
expects a new Constitution, good governance and a compassionate state,
economic revival, land and agrarian reform, respect for private
rights, direct foreign investment and international legitimacy, food
security, an open government, strong national institutions and jobs.
sincerely believe Zimbabwe must move fast and sort itself out because
geo-political, social and economic developments facing the SADC
2010, the region, led by South Africa, hosts the soccer World Cup.
As I said earlier, there is a real possibility of creating a dangerous
political vacuum in Zimbabwe. Together with Mugabe and Zanu PF, we
a way to avoid further damage to our nation. We need everybody in this
delicate transition. As a nation, we must manage that process;
2010 World Cup shall be marred by a political blot. A military junta
step in to fill the possible political vacuum.
Already Mugabe, conscious of his advanced age and with a view to
his own security, has militarised our main national institutions: power
generation and supply, food production, food procurement and food
fuel management and distribution, national parks and wildlife
agriculture, industry and commerce, election management and
key civil service departments and parastatals, land distribution and
government. The entire state sector is now in the hands of the
In theory, there may be nothing wrong with military personnel offering
assistance to a beleaguered regime on behalf of the people. But our
experience in Zimbabwe is unique. In 2002 and thereafter, the military
over the administration and management of national elections, with
disastrous results. We have it on record that some ambitious elements
military harbour a negative view of the people's sovereign right to
government of their choice.
International attention shall shift radically to Southern Africa over
next four years as the region prepares for the international soccer
competition. Our crisis shall interfere with regional harmony if we
to postpone the inevitable. A solution is urgent because of the
task ahead. Zimbabwe needs to embark on a major reconstruction agenda
re-set its mind and consciousness in order to play a meaningful part
hosting of the World Cup.
History will judge us harshly if we allow our own internal problems to
this critical event with, as expected, haphazard migration across the
Limpopo, squabbles over disputed elections, lack of political space, a
flawed Constitution, starvation and insecurity and bad governance.
Although Germany played host to the 2006 World Cup, 13 European
participated and assisted in one way or the other. Europe housed and
provided facilities to various national teams, visitors and official
delegations before the official kick-off of the competition. We are
the World Cup. Let us join the region in the preparations for this
We are therefore proposing that we deal with our national issues way
2010, better still three or four years before this international
allow us to rehabilitate our nation, recover our national pride and
and play our complimentary role in hosting the World Cup. Let us avoid
alienating ourselves further from our neighbours. We must work
re-open our links with the rest of the business community and
as a stable community, in international events. At the moment, we are
an irritant, a gadfly ready to muddy a noble cause in 2010. We hope
that Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF understand that as Zimbabweans we have
responsibility, a duty to our people and to the region.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, while some in this
struggle may feel tortured and betrayed, powerless and hopeless, my
advice to the people is: stay the course and lead with an open heart.
remain compassionate in our search for a lasting solution to the
crisis. Let us pay attention to the people's pain, against all odds.
I thank you.