We meet today against the backdrop of significant happenings elsewhere in Africa. However, in Zimbabwe we are experiencing a new wave of repression against the people’s universal right to free choice and free expression.
The past five months have seen a significant rise in the culture of impunity and violence against the people of this country all in the name of an election. Suffice to say that we have not even begun to implement the Global Political Agreement and all the parties to the inclusive government have yet to adopt a roadmap as a precondition to a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.
It is in the context of the on-going culture of impunity and violence that we have seen people being frog-marched across the country and in the urban centres to attend a Zanu PF function in Harare today. Businesses have been forced to close while motorists and commuter omnibus operators have been diverted from their routes to make the numbers at this function, in clear violation of the GPA where the rights of citizens are supposed to be respected in light of the new inclusive dispensation.
Indeed, no section of the GPA is more important than the other. It is in recognition of the people’s basic rights and freedoms that I and the party I lead find it despicable that people would be arrested for watching videos of happenings elsewhere in the world, videos of events that are already in the public domain. We shudder at the culture of impunity and the renewed wave of arrests of MDC MPs and political and civic activists detained in our prisons while Zanu PF perpetrators of violence roam free.
State security agents such as the police, the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation have become part of a cabal that is at the centre of a well-orchestrated partisan operation to instil fear in the people of Zimbabwe. The arrest of Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 others, Hon Douglas Mwonzora and 23 others in Nyanga and many other innocent villagers and activists across the country is at the centre of impunity, violence and the selective application of the law which has conspired to poison the political atmosphere in the country.
The MDC side of government does not believe that this government is under threat from its citizens to the extent of detaining people for watching a video. We do not believe that ordinary Zimbabweans should be victimised because others in government have an inherent fear of the people.
We urge SADC, the African Union and the international community at large to keep an eye on Zimbabwe. The country risks sliding over the precipice if the guarantors of the GPA do not take immediate action to come up with a binding roadmap as a precondition ahead of the next election.
People across the world, including Zimbabwe, yearn for their right to make political choices with neither fear nor coercion. They reserve their rights of expression, movement and assembly. The people are the real government and they have the universal authority and mandate to make a statement to any government.
As president of the MDC, the people’s party of freedom and real change in Zimbabwe, I would like to state that violence against the people must stop. Events elsewhere on the continent provide the fundamental lesson that repression has its lifespan.. And there is only one right result: freedom.
All people, Africans, Asians, Arabs, Americans, Europeans alike… desire and deserve freedom. They do not deserve dictatorship and repression, nor violence and abuse at the hands of the State and the leaders who should serve them. I have no doubt that, eventually, all repressed people will gain the freedom which they deserve. The inexorable march of liberation can be seen and felt today, stronger and louder than for many years.
The courage and dignity of repressed peoples can be seen and felt on the streets of this continent. And this is why I also wish to applaud the determination of the United Nations and the leaders of the world to support those people who suffer at the hands of tyrants and dictators.
The people of Africa have created this march to freedom and it will succeed. We have a process in place here, which is supposed to be guaranteed and supported by other countries of this region.
Those who have been in power here for decades, and have repressed and stolen from the Zimbabwean people, have committed to change and have signed up to specific reforms and principles. Sadly, they continue to flout those obligations, and renege on those undertakings. They continue to use their more familiar tools of violence and intimidation. But I am not advocating giving up on that process.
I still believe that, if SADC, fellow African countries and the international community show the right will and the right commitment to Zimbabwe, we can secure freedom here too, and do so peacefully.
What is needed is no more and no less than the full respect and the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement.
In other words:
- an end to all violence;
- an end to all abuse of power;
- and genuine free and fair elections.
Across this continent, whether in Libya, in the Ivory Coast or in Zimbabwe or elsewhere, what is at stake is freedom and dignity. Let us stand by our brothers and sisters as they fight for their freedom and dignity.
We in the MDC want peace to return in Zimbabwe, the land of our birth.
- We want freedom and democracy flourish.
- We want the people to have the freedom to pursue and live their dreams in a new Zimbabwe characterised by peace, hope, dignity, prosperity and freedom.
God bless Africa. God bless Zimbabwe.