Prime Minister Pan African Policy Dialogue Forum speech

Discussion with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, The Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai, Sapes, Harare, Thursday 12 May, 2011

Dr Mandaza,
Members of Parliament
Civil Society Leaders,
Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me here today. The purpose of this evening’s gathering is to promote discussion and debate and therefore I shall keep my presentation short.

I am here to launch the Pan African Policy Dialogue Forum and it would not be in the spirit of dialogue if I chose to deliver a speech to you rather than promote the dialogue and interaction that this forum deserves.

With regard to our theme, Beyond Party Politics – Towards a National Vision for Zimbabwe, I wish to tackle it in two parts.

Firstly, why elevating our national vision above party politics is essential to promote growth and development and;

Secondly, why Zimbabwe still has some way to go to achieve this goal.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in all mature democracies the presence of a loyal opposition is accepted without question.

That is, members of a political party not holding a voting majority in parliament are viewed as sharing a common national vision while holding opinions and promoting policies that differ from the governing party or governing coalition.

Where patriotism is not wielded as a political tool and used to subvert the law and the Constitution and where membership of a political party is no more divisive or dangerous than membership of a sports club.

It is only within such an environment that it is possible to truly lay the foundations for sustained national development. In such an environment it is possible to look beyond political or party differences, beyond tribal or racial divisions, and work towards a future in which we are united as Zimbabweans working for the betterment of our nation.

It is when we are united,not only by our identity as Zimbabweans, but also by our ability to respect our individual differences under that title that we will begin to really move forward and act towards a common vision.

Ultimately, in such a society, no one has the right to define exactly what is meant by sovereignty, or who is more patriotic or more deserving of access to our nation’s riches and resources.

In such a society where membership and rights are based on the broadest and simplest of categories, such as birth and citizenship and where the courts vigorously defend equally the rights of any individual that qualifies under these broad determinants.

And finally, where we all have equal protection of our laws based on a deep and abiding tolerance for our differences as much as a deep and abiding affection for our similarities.

Where the police protect our people and the sole remit of the army is to defend our borders or provide humanitarian assistance in times of natural disaster.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is only in such a mature democracy, devoid of petty squabbles, that we will be able to ensure that all of our children have access to more opportunities than their parents in respect of education, employment, health care and food security.

It was to take a positive step towards building this new Zimbabwe that my party decided to form this transitional government through signing the Global Political Agreement.

The GPA, though not a perfect arrangement, is an example that parties can sit down, define and agree on what is good for the country. Because there were painful compromises on both sides, at least the GPA provided the necessary foundation for parties to forgo their parochial party positions and act in the national interest.

However, what the past two years have illustrated and what I mentioned at the beginning of this presentation is that, sadly, we are still a long way from the reality of a national vision that transcends party politics.

Despite its commitments within the GPA, Zanu PF has made it blatantly obvious over the past two years and in the previous decades that it believes it has the sole mandate to Govern even in the absence of a mandate from the people.

That same party portrays any attack on its unjustified, unsustainable and violent grip on power as an attack on the State of Zimbabwe.

Such a destructive mentality spells disaster for our nation and its people.

That is why, I am determined to fight to change the culture of governance in this country.

To bring about an environment where incumbents stand down gracefully if they lose an election and where the people’s right to determine their own future, as well as who governs them, is so deeply entrenched in our society that it becomes as normal and natural as breathing.

Therefore, I will stand-up against propagandists that continue to blame others outside Zimbabwe for the ills we face inside.

I will continue to stand against looters who plunder our national riches and subsequently starve our civil service, our health and education facilities.

I and the party I represent believe in broad-based empowerment of the ordinary person and that is why we have a different interpretation of what the so-called indigenization regulations are all about.

Broad-based empowerment of the common man and woman is what we believe in, and not the looting, expropriation or nationalization by the elite as envisaged by some of our partners in this government.

So we will take a strong position against expropriation in thenational interest, beyond the narrow party politics of rhetoric and patronage of our coalition partners.   

And I will continue to speak out against those within our government who hide behind badly worded and illegally implemented legislation to take investments, organizations and assets that do not belong to them.

Only when we have succeeded in eradicating these short-sighted, selfish and nationally self-destructive tendencies from our political environment can we begin to truly rise above party politics and develop and implement a real vision for Zimbabwe.

But I want to remain positive and optimistic that the people’s aspirations for the political leadership and political parties to go beyond party politics will be achieved well within our lifetime.

The unity by MPs from the two MDC formations and our friends in Zanu PF to defend the people’s will by acting in common purpose to re-elect Hon LovemoreMoyo as Speaker of the House of Assembly shows that it is possible to work towards a common visionand a common purpose.

At the inception of the inclusive government, one of whose core responsibilities was to restore economic stability, we tried in the first two years through the Short Term Economic recovery Programme (STERP) to stop the bleeding, to stem inflation and to provide respite in the health and education sectors.

Food became available and we brought some hope to the people of Zimbabwe because there was more collaboration than competition, which competition has now been brought to the fore again through misguided election talk without proper conditions for a free and fair poll.
    
We need to have a clear national economic vision that transcends party politics. A vision to create jobs, bring investment and set the ground for peace, stability and security as these are key ingredients to economic success.

We must start by have a clear five year programme 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, infrastructure rehabilitation, resuscitation of our manufacturing potential and increasing our mining and agricultural productivity.

These are surely issues that must unite all of us across the political divide if we are to put the interests of this country ahead of partisan interests.

Under this new programme, some of us envision a $15 billion economy in the next five years and we can be able to achieve a US$100 billion economy by 2030. It is possible, if we work together, to achieve 10 percent annual growth rate as long as we all agree to a peaceful country underpinned by constitutionalism and the rule of law. Our challenge is that there others who are not driven by the collective national interest and prefer chaos to peace so that they can create wealth for themselves and their cronies.

I want to thank you for giving me the honour to make the first presentation and to launch the inaugural Pan African Leadership dialogue.

Dialogue is the missing link in our collective effort to craft sound policies in the best interests of the country and the people.

I am told that the Pan African Leadership Dialogue that we launch here today will be honouring and profiling prominent African leaders on our continent and in the Diaspora, drawing on their wealth of experience in policy making and leadership at national, sub-regional or continental levels.

It is therefore my singular honour and priviledge to officially launch the Pan African Dialogue Series.Let the dialogue not only begin – but bear fruits for the people by contributing to a more open, transparent and honest leadership!

I thank you.

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Source: MDC Information