Speech by Tsvangirai, on the occasion of the memorial service
FULL STATEMENT – Speech by the MDC President Tsvangirai on the occasion of the memorial service and unveiling of the tombstones of heroes of democracy
Ladies and gentlemen, We gather here today in remembrance of the true heroes of our time; four gallant men who died in pursuit of genuine democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe.
Today is an important day in our unfolding journey towards full democracy as we take time to reflect on the lives of the many gallant sons and daughters who were callously murdered for their belief in democratic change in Zimbabwe. From the time of the liberation struggle, ours has always been a story of a heroic people who have always fought oppression and repression of whatever nature. Whether the repression is white on black or black on black.
Ours is the unfolding story of a brave people who are prepared to die for their beliefs; a committed people of fighters prepared to pay the ultimate price so that we can all live in an atmosphere of peace, freedom and prosperity. It is a story of courage; a tale of selflessness in which thousands of patriotic Zimbabweans have lost their lives so that our hopes and national aspirations can live again.
Yes, dedicated Zimbabweans have lost their limbs so that the wishes and aspirations of future generations can be realised. Today, we gather here to remember and celebrate the lives of Tonderai Ndira, Better Chokururama, Cain Nyevhe and Godfrey Kauzani.
These four were brutally murdered for their political beliefs and the tearful memories of their lives and their painful death will remain etched in the collective memory of this nation for a long time to come. They fought for a just cause and they died in the course of national duty.
They were ordinary, unarmed citizens with an unstinting belief in democracy and faith in bringing real change to Zimbabwe. They had families and relatives, many of whom are gathered here today. But they had a higher calling to serve the nation and its people, beyond the narrow and selfish interests of serving their immediate families and relatives. To them, Zimbabwe mattered more than their villages and their immediate families!
We must equally remember the many innocent Zimbabweans across the country that have been killed in senseless political violence over the years.
We remember them.
We salute them.
We treasure and celebrate their lives and the only worthy gesture we can make is to create a peaceful and a violence-free Zimbabwe which they cherished and for which they paid the ultimate price.
The liberation struggle, the Gukurahundi massacres and our own struggle for democracy have resulted in needless casualties of great magnitude; a magnitude that must be shameful to ourselves as the leadership of this great country. We have recently witnessed the exhumation of dead bodies in one corner of the country for cheap political gain. We should accord those that died violent and unnatural deaths the respect they deserve.
We should ensure that in creating a final resting place for their earthly remains, we leave no stone unturned in determining who killed them and why and ensuring that their relatives achieve the disclosure they deserve. There are victims of violence all over Zimbabwe, including the bodies of Ndira and others whom we are remembering here today.
There are graves in Matabeleland the Midlands provinces ; innocent victims of a senseless and systematic genocide and we all wonder whether the current exhumations will spread to that corner of the country as well. I know all of us here are angry and tormented; not least because those who were close to us were violently killed by the merchants of death.
We are angry because the perpetrators of these heinous acts are walking scot-free and the police have not even bothered to make a single arrest.
Joseph Mwale, the alleged murderer of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika in that gruesome murder in April 2000, remains in the employ of the State and a free man despite overwhelming evidence against him. He is a living example of the culture of impunity that has afflicted this country; a true testimony of the failure of the justice system in Zimbabwe.
We are angry because our parents, our brothers, our husbands and our wives were killed in State-sponsored violence, which is a cruel irony because it is the duty of the State to protect citizens and not harm them. We are angry because the Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri has chosen to engage in selective application of the law and to personalise what should otherwise be a State-institution.
There has been no single arrest of these murderers and all perpetrators of violence and this has made the majority of our people to lose faith and confidence in the police force as a people’s institution.
We urge Commissioner Chihuri to arrest all perpetrators of violence without fear or favour and without the needless selective application of the law. In the absence of arrests and prosecution, history will record that the police force in this country folded its arms and closed its eyes while the merchants of violence killed and brutalised innocent civilians.
We are angry because once again, we are seeing the resurgence of the same culture of impunity and State-sponsored violence and I know we are all saying: “Not again.” We are however heartened that our brothers in SADC have now realised that violence as orchestrated by partisan state institutions is the single major threat to democracy in Zimbabwe and stability in the whole region.
Today, we make a bold statement that no amount of violence will stop an idea whose hour has come. We stand here to celebrate the triumph of peace over violence, light over darkness and good over evil. We are all here as survivors of a dark era which must not return again to this country because it is dehumanising, unAfrican and an assault to the ideals of our liberation struggle.
The theme of today’s event is “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5 verse 9).
Indeed, we call for peace in Zimbabwe. We call for a peaceful election in which the people’s rights for free expression, movement, speech and assembly are respected. We call for a roadmap to a violence-free election in Zimbabwe in which everyone is free to choose their leaders and live in peace. That is the Zimbabwe which the gallant sons and daughters of this country died for.
And that is the Zimbabwe for which Tonderai Ndira, Cain Nyevhe, Godfrey Kauzani, Better Chokururama and many others across the country paid the ultimate prize. We shall continue our determined fight for such a peaceful Zimbabwe until we achieve full democracy in our motherland. Only then can the souls of our departed loved ones rest in eternal peace.
God bless you and God bless Zimbabwe.
I thank you