Statement by MDC President, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, on the Humanitarian Crisis

FULL STATEMENT – Statement by the President of the Movement for Democratic Change, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, on the Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe.

The people of Zimbabwe urgently need the help of the whole world to stop the impending famine and plague. The people of Zimbabwe need their political parties to commit themselves to ending the needless suffering they endure every day.

The humanitarian crisis that is now engulfing all Zimbabweans represents the greatest threat ever to face our country. While millions face starvation in the coming months, the death toll from cholera is now sitting at over fifty people per day and will increase dramatically now that the rainy season has begun in earnest.

In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, former United States President, Jimmy Carter, and Dr Graca Machel for their commitment to understanding the Zimbabwean crisis and for trying to identify solutions to halt the humanitarian catastrophe that faces the country.

It was no surprise to anyone that Mr Robert Mugabe denied them access to the country, to see firsthand the appalling conditions that Zimbabweans are living under as a result of his political and economic mismanagement. Mr Mugabe would prefer that the suffering that he and Zanu PF have caused, and continue to cause, remains in the dark.

When we signed the political agreement on September 15th, 2008, we believed that Zanu PF was willing to work with us to address the challenges facing the country. Sadly, their intransigence to date is making that appear increasingly unlikely.

Therefore, the MDC must instead work with those Zimbabwean organizations, groups and individuals to address the humanitarian crisis. In this quest, we look also towards any country, regional or international, multi-lateral bodies and NGOs to join with the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe in helping us solve the problems of our country.

Therefore, in the absence of any progress in the talks, the MDC is now committing itself to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The people of the country have mandated us to end their suffering, to work towards a New Zimbabwe and a New Beginning. In the absence of a legitimate government in Zimbabwe, in the absence of a government of Zimbabwe that puts the will and welfare of the people first, the MDC must take on this leadership responsibility.

The people of Zimbabwe are determined to endure the suffering so long as there is no meaningful change in the way that they are governed. That is the message that they have given to the MDC and it is the message that the MDC gives to the rest of the world.

This does not mean that we are not turning our back on the Global Political Agreement, nor are we withdrawing from the talks. Rather, we are saying that until we see real indications that the negotiations will end the suffering of all Zimbabweans we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from working towards the goal of alleviating the peoples’ suffering.

The tragedy that is Zimbabwe is not caused by the current political impasse. Rather, this political impasse and the current suffering are caused by a former ruling party refusing to acknowledge both the will of the people and the hardships they are causing the people.

To suggest the current problems facing our country can be solved by the MDC becoming a powerless partner in a Zanu PF government, fails to acknowledge the truth about the causes of the crisis and the fact that such a development would result in the perpetuation of the peoples’ suffering.

The Mugabe team negotiates as though their priority is to cover up the problem rather than solve it. Establishing a unity government dedicated to covering up the problem would be easy; establishing a unity government that can help to solve the problem is very hard.

The most recent sign of the lack of good faith by Zanu PF is the reappointment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono. This individual, who has been the architect of Zimbabwe’s economic collapse and has blatantly plundered the national treasury to fund Zanu PF and its elite, has been rewarded with another five year term. Surely, if Mr Mugabe was genuine in his desire to address the problems facing the country he would not breach the global political agreement by making any senior appointments unilaterally.

Furthermore the continued abduction of MDC members that we have witnessed in the past few weeks including confirmed disappearance of 15 of our members reflects the ongoing disregard for the spirit of cooperation and coexistence and demonstrates the lack of good faith on the part of Mugabe.

Sadly, the negotiations have also been hampered by the attitude and position of the facilitator, Mr Thabo Mbeki. He does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too small. He is not serving to bring the parties together because he does not understand what needs to be done. In addition, his partisan support of Zanu PF, to the detriment of genuine dialogue, has made it impossible for the MDC to continue negotiating under his facilitation.

In this regard, we have written to the Chairman of SADC, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, detailing the irretrievable state of our relationship with Mr Mbeki and asking that he recuse himself.

In the meantime, the MDC is continuing in discussions with no prejudice on the outstanding issues with the other political parties.

I would like to reiterate that the MDC is ready, willing and able our leadership to bring about the change that Zimbabwe needs from an inclusive government. We have a viable and bankable economic stabilization program and other key policies, that we want to discuss with Zanu PF so that we can implement them together to respond urgently to the suffering of our people. That is the mandate we have from the people.

I thank you

Morgan Tsvangirai

President

Movement for Democratic Change