Friday 29 April, 2011
Members of the National Standing Committee
Members of the National Executive and Council
Representatives of the Trade Unions and Civil Society
Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and Friends,
It is with great pleasure that I stand before you today at this historic Congress. This is our Party’s final congress before the next watershed elections. Those elections will represent the culmination of the hard work, sacrifice and dedication to democracy exhibited by millions of Zimbabweans over the past 11 years.
For, the MDC will win the next elections, we will form the next Government and we will take Zimbabwe into a new era of peace, prosperity, dignity and hope. We will achieve this because we are together, united winning and ready for real change.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends, everyone one of us gathered here today carries the scars from the struggle that begun with the formation of the MDC in 1999. Each of us have felt the weight of the oppressor’s baton or the feel of his fist or booted feet. We carry the emotional scars from grieving for our fallen comrades and the trauma of seeing the sacrifices of our liberation heroes desecrated on the altar of political plunder and exploitation.
Since our last congress we have lost leaders and we have lost warriors for peace and democracy. Let us remember those men, women and youths who have paid the ultimate price to deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe.
Our founding Vice President and a dear colleague in the struggle, Gibson Sibanda, is no more. Our founding national chairman, Isaac Matongo died a year after our historic Congress of 2006 and I would like to thank all of you for the support you gave me and family during our most trying moment following the death of my beloved wife, Susan, on 6 March 2009.
I also wish to thank fellow Standing Committee members with whom I have led this party for the past five years. We did our best and led this party to victory in March 2008. We confounded our critics and we have become the largest political party in the country in the last five years.
At this historic congress let us honour their sacrifice. Let us treasure their memory and let us ensure that their legacy is a New Zimbabwe that is truly free, democratic and prosperous. This is what they stood for and this is what they were fighting for. We owe it to them to carry on the struggle courageously, peacefully and relentlessly.
In light of this, I wish to repeat what I said at the Women’s Congress and the Youth Congress by addressing the allegations of factionalism, conflict and corruption that have preceded this Congress. We are aware that Zanu PF is a stakeholder in this Congress. They want a certain outcome but we have survived infiltration before and we will overcome forever.
But let me once again state that there will be no tolerance of violence in the MDC. There will be no sanctioning of corruption in the MDC; And there will be no reward for patronage in the MDC. It is these traits that our party was born to eradicate. It is these traits that condemned an entire generation to poverty and repression and there can be no room for them in the New Zimbabwe.
The MDC I am proud to lead has got character and culture. It is a pro-poor, people-centred social democratic, non-racial and non-sexist movement.
It is inclusive, tolerant and against any forms of discrimination, it supports the emancipation of women and considers democracy as a core value. It is against all forms of factionalism, fronticism, rumour mongering, slander and character assassination.
This is the character that has made our brand such an appealing one in the last decade. It is the brand that will define our elections tomorrow and the national elections whenever they are held. Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends, it has been a long five years since our last congress.
That Congress was held in the aftermath of a vicious and bitter split that we deeply regret. However we soldiered on and rebuilt this party. Through the most vicious of all forms of violence and the most aggravated form of dictatorship on the African continent at the moment, we survived and won an election.
From those sad ruins of the party at its Congress in 2006, I stand here before you not only as President of a proud movement but also as Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
I stand here as leader of a ruling party with majority seats in Parliament and with a Speaker of the House of Assembly.
A party that has mayors in all the urban areas and controls the majority of local authorities throughout the country.
A party that has had a positive impact in this transitional arrangement and has given every Zimbabwean the reason to hope once again.
It is at this Congress that we must develop the roadmap to take this party and our nation forward, to complete the change that our people demand and deserve. Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends, although we have much to be proud of, we must also acknowledge that there is much we must learn from the last five years and much work still to do.
Our time in Government has shown us that securing real transfer of power will be no easy task. Any failure on our part to adhere to our principles, to drive forward our peaceful, democratic revolution will be seized upon by the enemies of progress in an attempt to reverse the gains our nation has made. We must remain vigilant as these enemies attempt to distract us with ill-gotten trinkets, false promises of empowerment and continued threats of violence.
It is lack of respect for our national security institutions that has led to this sad state of affairs; the police, the army and the intelligence service must be empowered to act professionally, impartially and abide by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. This will be achieved under our new Government.
National institutions serve the people and not certain political parties and once the people lose confidence in the security sector, the onus befalls on those institutions to prove that they are worthy of the people’s trust.
We must stay true to our principles of ensuring that our nation’s riches enrich the many and not the few. That we are the masters of our own destiny and do not allow Zimbabwe to be recolonised by any nation, whether it hails from the West, the East, North or South.
This Congress must set the tone for the next lap of the people’s struggle. We have fought a good fight but we need to complete this journey for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.
We are heartened by the brave stance of our colleagues in the region and by the facilitator, President Jacob Zuma.
The region has given us reason to believe that SADC and the AU are ready to prevent the circus of 2008 that began in Kenya, was perfected in Zimbabwe but backfired with disastrous consequences in the Ivory Coast.
This is the circus where losers of national elections are accommodated through power sharing arrangements. We applaud the position of SADC in ensuring that the process towards a free and fair election in Zimbabwe is fully supported, enhanced and consolidated.
The AU and SADC, as the guarantors to the GPA, have shown that they are ready to nurse this process and to ensure that a credible government is put in place through a free and fair election. Thus, the next months are going to be critical in ensuring that we put in place the necessary mechanisms and building blocks to guarantee and protect the people’s vote and the people’s will.
We are in the last mile of our democratic struggle to create a New Zimbabwe but we all know that the last kicks of a dying horse are vicious. Let us therefore work together in unity of purpose guarding against violence and coordinated attacks by those who have been rejected by the people.
We face in the next phase of our development as a nation not only a political transition but also a generational transition. The liberation generation has taken this country over the past 30 years from a vibrant economy to its knees where the currency was worthless, savings wiped out and general sustenance became a daily struggle for survival.
It is our responsibility as a new generation taking this country forward for the next 30 years to move this country from a Third world country to First world status. Yes, it can be done with the human and natural endowments that we possess. With political stability and confidence of our people in a credible and legitimate government, it is possible to lay the foundation for a New Zimbabwe.
The outcome of this congress must deal therefore with the transformation that is necessary in our party and in our nation.
We must have a clear five year programme as a party that will deal with massive unemployment and poverty that we currently face, a clear programme underpinned by political reforms, a commitment to the rule of law, defense of property rights and reward of individual effort. This programme must set out clear economic plans, focus on infrastructure rehabilitation, resuscitation of our manufacturing potential and increasing our mining and agricultural productivity.
This New Zimbabwe beckons to every citizen.
I can see that new Zimbabwe.
A new Zimbabwe where the people will be accorded the dignity and respect that they deserve.
A Zimbabwe where people are free to choose; where the nation is living in harmony despite political, religious, tribal or racial diversity.
A new Zimbabwe with functioning hospitals and well equipped schools.
Under this new programme, we envision a US$100 billion economy by 2030. Under that MDC government, we expect to achieve 10 percent annual growth rate in a peaceful country underpinned by constitutionalism and the rule of law. A Zimbabwe where very Zimbabwean has confidence in our national institutions and where people’s rights are increased and not minimized.
What is happening in North Africa is a continued manifestation of the violation of the people’s fundamental rights. We do not want that to happen here in Zimbabwe. We believe that dialogue and conversation amongst ourselves will solve our problems.
A Zimbabwe where the government delivers affordable and quality services to the people; where the people’s rights and basic freedoms of assembly, movement and speech are not negotiable. Comrades and Friends, join hands with me as we ask the Almighty God to anoint this process that will lead to a return of peace, progress and prosperity to this great country.
From this Congress, we must all be prepared to give our all in this last mile, with hope and pride that we are finishing the struggle that many Zimbabweans died for. We will not fail the people of Zimbabwe.
Let us retain our hope and faith.
I thank you.