Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, says Zimbabwe is on the verge of achieving a new political dispensation following an uprising by citizens demanding all forms of freedom.
Speaking at the party’s 17th anniversary commemorations in Bulawayo on Saturday, Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans should continue pilling pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s government in order to transform the country into a democratic state.
“We meet at a time when the people are under State siege for daring to exercise their basic freedoms and rights enshrined in a Constitution they made themselves after so much pain and sacrifice. We are meeting at a time when the State has declared war against innocent citizens for simply daring to express themselves. However, fear not my fellow Zimbabweans, because we are on the eve of a new dispensation.
“That is why today, we are commemorating our 17th anniversary under the theme: MDC@17: Re-defining the end-game. This is the end-game and all we have to do is to re-define it so that it reflects the true aspirations of the patriotic sons and daughters of this land.”
He said inspite of the brutal and sustained attack, the people have remained united, peaceful, committed and resolute. “That has been the nature and character of our struggle for the past 17 years. Armed only with our bare hands and determination, we have succeeded in pushing an armed, brutal regime into a corner through our sheer determination in demanding the respect for our basic rights and freedoms.
As I have said, that has always been the hallmark of our struggle - clean, peaceful, legitimate and innocent but forceful.”
Tsvangirai said in the face of the current unmitigated provocation by the state, the people have remained resilient. “I want to thank you, my fellow Zimbabweans for your clarity on the significance of our political moment. We all do not wish to plunge the country into anarchy; all we seek is for the State to hear the voice of a despondent people and to respond to our grievances.”
He commended citizens for facing the government head-on saying local people are no longer afraid of the ruling elite.
“ … As a nation and as a people, we at times under-estimate our gallantry and fail to celebrate our achievements. The new Constitution and its broad rights and freedoms, written and endorsed by the people themselves in a referendum, is a major achievement worthy of celebration. We must congratulate ourselves for creating a new charter for this land, which charter this brutal regime is not keen to implement.
“The people have suddenly found their voice and have begun to loudly express their displeasure at these visible signs of collapse around us. The sheer incompetence, the ghost of corruption and the lack of a credible and clear plan to take the country out of this morass are there for all to see.”
He said the crisis is firmly located in the highest office in the land and as a result, it was ironic that the Office of the President was now responsible for the fight against corruption.
“Surely a mosquito cannot cure malaria. A fish rots from the head. It all starts and ends with leadership. The scourge of corruption is one of the many challenges facing this nation and the President’s Office is not only incapable of dealing with this cancer but is the direct cause of it.
The MDC-T leader said at the centre of Zimbabwe’s crisis “is the crisis of legitimacy, arising out of a disputed election that failed to inspire confidence nationally, regionally and in the broader international community.
The economic crisis, through the current challenges such as inadequate revenue and dysfunctional industries is just but a window through which the political crisis of legitimacy is manifesting itself. Inadequate revenue has crippled recovery and severely affected social services such as health and education, with referral hospitals such as Harare Hospital having shut down critical units.”
He further said corruption, policy inconsistencies and “a clueless leadership exemplified by a 92-year old still clinging to power showcase the mammoth nature of the crisis we face as a nation. Added to that is an indifferent region where only one leader has spoken out against the rot and expressed concern that the wheels have come off in Harare.”
President Ian Khama of Botswana recently urged Mr. Mugabe to step down saying he is too old to lead the country.
Mr. Mugabe’s government reacted angrily to the remarks saying Khama should have used diplomatic ways of expressing his opinion.
The MDC was formed on February 26, 1999, by different organizations, including the labor movement, student bodies and other organizations such as the National Constitutional Assembly.
On January 26, 2000, the party had its inaugural congress at the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex. Morgan Tsvangirai became President. A constitution for the party was adopted.
Tsvangirai now leads one of the several factions of the party, which started splitting following a fall out over the party’s participation on elections.