"I am Ready For Elections Not War" – Tsvangirai

Harare, – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and leader of the Movement Democratic Change (MDC) says he is ready for elections next year but not war.

He said in his Christmas message to Zimbabweans: "We won the Presidential, parliamentary and local government elections of 2008 and we are not afraid. The holder of the heavyweight title can never be more afraid than the challenger; the one itching to inflict revenge after being humiliated in the first round. And we won the first round. So we are ready for an election and not a war.

"We are only ready for a free and fair election, a peaceful election where violence, rigging, intimidation and a biased public media have no space; where our soldiers, our police, our central intelligence officers and our war veterans remain impartial actors that respect the Constitution of Zimbabwe. A free election where losers hand over power and winners begin urgently to transact the business of the people and to set in motion policies that will guarantee a prosperous future for us and our children.

"So we will only participate in a free, fair and violence-free election. But we will not participate in a war. We are simple defenseless citizens of this country fighting for change through peaceful and democratic means. So we will not participate in a blood-soaked event masquerading as an election.

"On 16 December 2010, our national council took a position that the outstanding electoral business is the unfinished Presidential election of 2008. There was no contestation on the outcome of the Parliamentary and local government elections. This means Zimbabweans should be given a chance to vote for a President of their choice in the next election. We have been forced to walk the road of violence and we are not prepared to walk it forever more.

"I, like every other Zimbabwean, have personally experienced this violence and I understand the pain of brutality and indignity. There have been disturbing and treasonous statements by a parasitic minority in Zanu PF that they will not allow an election to decide the future leaders of this country. The people of Zimbabwe, with the active assistance of SADC, must ensure that the people’s will prevails if we are to entrench a new culture of democracy in our
country.

"I am aware that more needs to be done to realise our full potential in bringing hospitals and schools to their former glory and in ensuring that our silent factories start working again. But we have made our positive change in this government amid renewed tension which is threatening our collective march from a dark past of uncertainty to a future of hope and progress."

"I have my own frustrations about many things in this government. Chief among my frustrations is the failure to implement the Global Political Agreement, the resurgence of violence in the country and President Robert
Mugabe’s unilateral and unconstitutional acts which have blighted the dawn of possible progress.

"I am frustrated because these things have stood between us and the great things we could have achieved as a coalition government. I am frustrated because we have taken Zimbabweans for a ride and betrayed the trust bestowed upon us by you, the people of Zimbabwe as well as SADC and the African Union as the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement.

"I am frustrated because we cannot implement the 24 issues we have agreed upon for the simple reason that President Mugabe has chosen to run away from his signature and treats fellow Principals with utter disdain and contempt.

"I am frustrated because the noble-constitution-making process has failed to stand the test of legitimacy after Zimbabweans were disallowed from freely expressing their views. However, we must continue with this process of crafting a new charter for ourselves while awaiting the making of a truly people-driven Constitution in a post-transitional environment.

"It is a shame that 30 years after independence, we still use a Constitution given to us as an order of the Queen at Lancaster House, albeit a Constitution mutilated 19 times. And we still have the have the temerity to call ourselves a sovereign nation while at the same time subverting a noble process of crafting our own, home-grown Constitution.

"I am frustrated because those who lost the election have chosen to mistake our goodwill and benevolence for a weakness. They have deluded themselves into thinking that they invited us. But we derive comfort in that while they are soaked with the blood of innocent Zimbabweans, we remain drenched in the legitimacy bestowed upon us in a free and fair election.

"We are the true repository of the people’s aspirations. But our present frustrations must not blind us to the nightmare of the past and the prospect of a better future.

"We are now on the home stretch-the last mile. As we go on this last mile, we remain undaunted by the prospect of an election, as this is the only route through which a legitimate government can begin to transact the business of
the people and bring about real change.

"This month, we all celebrate the birth of Christ and look positively to the year ahead, well aware of the value we have brought into government and the role we have played in stopping the bleeding and making sure that Zimbabweans have every reason to hope again," he said. "We are not there yet and I have no doubt about the huge task that lies ahead in returning the country to normalcy and in laying the foundation for a great future for our children."

He said among the successes of MDC were the ability to add value to the government, pulling the nation from the brink of collapse to a new potential of hope and averted an inevitable plunge into the abyss to set the country back on the rails; on a new path of stability, development and growth.

"We are the people’s conscience in this government and every day, we are mitigating the excesses of entitlement and corruption and keeping in check a sulking minority unused to working in the interest of the people.We have shown what a determined people can do, even in the face of open Zanu (PF) provocation."

"We have weathered and survived dark and sinister plots to undermine the collective government work programme and the real change agenda. We have remained resolute, in the full knowledge that we are the true people’s representatives because of the clear mandate given to us in a legitimate election."

"As I take stock of the past year and look at the priorities of 2011, I am humbled by some notable achievements but at the same time aware of the great strides we would have made were it not for the needless tension in this government," noted Tsvangirai.

He said Zimbabwe’s inflation has been tamed and the country is poised for a growth of 8,1 percent after having
spent the past two years concentrating on stabilising the economy. There is food on the shelves, schools have opened and hospitals have begun functioning again.

He said a one-stop shop that will enable prospective investors to have their papers processed under one roof in less than 48 hours had been opened.

Tsvangirai said he was unhappy with the remuneration for civil servants considering their patriotism and their great service to the country.

He also said a false impression had been created that the MDC and its leadership were fighting the national security institutions.

"We have nothing against our soldiers, our police and our CIO officers as long as they stick to their Constitutional mandate of protecting the people of Zimbabwe. But we have a problem when the same institutions are used for partisan interest, to intimidate and mete out violence against innocent and defenceless citizens.

"So we need a roadmap to a free and fair election, with clear benchmarks and time-bound milestones that will ensure the people’s views will be respected."