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Prime Minister's address to the Southern African Liaison Office
for Democratic Change
May 24, 2010
of the Southern African Liaison Office and Idasa, Members of the
Diplomatic Corp, Members of the civic society, Invited Guests, Ladies
and Gentlemen, Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be
with you today. In particular, I wish to recognize Ambassador Sten
Rylander who has not only been a strong supporter of the SALO, but
has, over many years, proven himself to be a true friend of the
people of Zimbabwe in their quest for a truly democratic society.
Ambassador, I know that you will be retiring soon and I trust that
you will continue to support and visit Zimbabwe. I can assure you
that you will always be welcomed as a friend and comrade. Before
I begin my briefing, let me also express my pride as an African
that our continent will be hosting the FIFA World Cup next month.
I wish to acknowledge the enormous amount of work and commitment
invested in this event by all South Africans, which will undoubtedly
ensure the success of the tournament. I eagerly look forward to
attending the opening ceremony next weekend.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
it is good to be amongst friends here today who share a vision of
a truly free Zimbabwe, in which all of our people can live in peace,
opportunity, hope and prosperity. This type of platform allows for
a frank exchange of views and I trust that in both this briefing
and afterwards I am able to answer some of the questions and concerns
which you might have. I know that you too share my frustrations
at the slow pace of reform that has followed the formation of the
new government in Zimbabwe. Being a partner in this marriage of
convenience has been a painful experience but a strategic necessity
that will enable us to reach our destination albeit uncomfortably.
We do not necessarily share the same vision and values with our
colleagues in government .
about respecting the will of the people. Many of us may have hoped,
but few of us really believed, that the transition to democracy
would happen overnight in Zimbabwe. In the last elections, the people
expressed a clear and unequivocal will for real change in Zimbabwe.
What they got was short of what they wished for; but at least the
process of change has started. The challenge is now to keep that
change coming, to keep it peaceful and free of further violence,
and to make it irreversible. The formation of this inclusive Government
allowed us the opportunity to halt, and to begin to reverse Zimbabwe's
terrifying acceleration towards a failed state. But we are not out
of the woods yet. On a daily basis, and at any given turn we face
dogged resistance to change from one of the partners in this government.
We have a section of the buarecracy that continues to resist any
changes to the status quo and a security establishment leadership
that no longer feels safe in the unfolding new political dispensation.
Whether it is resistance to implement agreed democratic reforms;
or the looting and misuse of state funds and resources; or the lack
of respect for the rule of law and the constitution; or simply the
ruthless determination to retain or usurp power at all costs and
by whatever means . . . all of this shows how fragile this marriage
is, and how fragile the transition process is in Zimbabwe. Just
last week, President Mugabe unilaterally appointed five new judges,
including a Judge President, without even a nod to the undertakings
he had signed: to consult with me, and to protect the fundamental
principles of independence and non-partisanship of the judiciary.
Being in Government
with a partner who does not respect the very agreement
which they signed up to as a basis for that partnership... is a
challenge, to put it mildly. It is now abundantly clear that ZANU
PF never intended to implement much of what they signed up to. Fortunately
for us though, and for the people of Zimbabwe, the world -
and most importantly, the region, is watching. That agreement, the
GPA, was brokered and guaranteed by SADC. And SADC has proved that
they are determined to see it respected and implemented. We all
know that the essence of implementing the GPA means implementing
the reforms necessary to allow the people of Zimbabwe to express
their will clearly, unequivocally, and without fear of violence
in the next elections.
one of the things which President Mugabe and I do agree on is that
those elections need to happen next year. The main purpose of this
marriage of convenience therefore is to get us embark on a roadmap
to those elections without a return to violence, and to ensure foolproof
ground rules for are laid and above all that they are free and fair
and vote is secured and respected. With enough active support from
our friends in the region, I believe that this is possible. Despite
all the frustrations and the deceptions, we have actually made some
- The Constitutional
Process is delayed, but finally underway. Outreach is due
to start now in a little over two weeks.
- We have agreed
on a series of Electoral Reforms which will go some way towards
tackling the iniquities and dangers of the current system.
the Zimbabwe Media Commission issued the licenses for four new
independent daily newspapers to be published in Zimbabwe.
These are all part of the mix of reforms that are needed for free
and fair elections to be held next year. There is a whole lot more
to do, but we are now finally underway. It is a protracted process.
I know and appreciate how seriously many of our regional partners
view the situation in Zimbabwe, and how committed they are to ensure
that the country does not once again slide down the road towards
failure as it did before the last elections. I appreciate and salute
their concerted and continuous efforts to support my country and
to support the people of Zimbabwe. No-one can afford for Zimbabwe
to fail again. And with the right will and the right determination
from all actors, we can ensure that it does not.
Of course, coming
back and staying back, from the brink is not just about securing
democratic reforms. My party was also elected to turn around the
failing economy and to start to rebuild the shattered infrastructure
of Zimbabwe-. Here again, we are deeply reliant on our partners,
regionally and internationally. And we have received a great deal
of support in this regard. Throughout the most difficult times,
and until today, the international community has supported the Zimbabwean
people by guaranteeing basic livelihoods when the state was no longer
able to do so, and by intervening to protect and support critically
basic health and education services. I am immensely grateful for
this support, and look forward to it continuing and evolving as
the Government slowly recovers its ability to look after its own
As we look forward
to the Friends of Zimbabwe meeting in Oslo next week, I also hope
that we can make swift progress in rebuilding my country's
infrastructure. Zimbabwe's infrastructure has been decimated
by mismanagement and corruption over a period of many years. And
this is a huge obstacle to economic regeneration. To secure the
country's long-term stability, livelihoods and growth, we
will need a great deal help to rebuild this infrastructure. I am
delighted that the African Development Bank is taking a lead in
this area, and I believe strongly that the ADB's leadership
and management of a Multi-Donor Fund will be of immense and lasting
benefit to the people of Zimbabwe.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
this last year has been a steep learning curve for me and for my
party, the MDC. No-one expected it to be easy, and none of us went
into this marriage with a light or a naïve heart. We have had
to learn the difficult business of government and the messy business
of coalition politics at the same time. I am proud of the progress
we have made, and of our ability to stand together despite all the
challenges we have faced.
But we have made mistakes, and I am the first to acknowledge these
and to commit to learning from these mistakes. At times, we have
been too caught up in our problems, and thereby distanced ourselves
from our traditional partners and our allies. That is a mistake.
At times, too, we have been so distracted by the daily battles we
fight in government that we have lost some of the focus on the clear
principles for which we were elected. That is a grave mistake.
the MDC is a truly democratic party, and our grassroots are there
to hold the leadership to account, to remind us of what we stand
for, and to bring us back on course. On the 16th of May, the party's
National Council met and made a number of very clear resolutions,
amongst them were the following:
- That, the
parties and the Principals of the parties must take measures to
implement and execute the agreed positions as reflected in the
Negotiators report dated the 3rd of April 2010 and more importantly,
must enforce and uphold the Implementation Matrix as prepared
by the Negotiators.
- On indigenization,
the MDC believes in broad-based empowerment for the people and
for this reason condemns the current proposed indigenization regulations
on the basis that they are elitist, selective and a mere vehicle
for further enrichment of the rich few, self aggrandizement, patronage
and further destruction of the economy.
- The party
noted with concern the lack of transparency and due process in
the handling of diamonds at Chiadzwa and in the granting of concessions
and mining rights in the same.
- It resolved
that due process of the law and all court orders issued in respect
of the Chiadzwa claims should be honoured and respected and that
that all income from Chiadzwa should be accounted for transparently
to the State to enable the same to attend to capital and recurrent
expenditure and in particular the adequate remuneration of civil
- There is
no room for wayward involvement of some wings of the security
forces in the mining of diamonds as evidenced by the issuance
of licenses to some of them. This will only destruct them from
their core business of national policing and security.
The MDC leadership also called for rapid intervention by SADC to
resolve the implementation of the GPA and also to clearly define
the roadmap to an election and the guarantees to the legitimacy
of this election. Which brings us back to the question of next year's
elections and the future of Zimbabwe after those elections. As I
have already said, I believe that with the continued support of
SADC, and in particular President Zuma and his team who have shown
enormous commitment over recent months, we can get to, and through,
these elections with dignity and without violence.
It is then
that the challenge of establishing a truly stable, democratic and
peaceful Zimbabwe will really begin. And that will be a challenge
in which all Zimbabweans will need to play an active role. Any post-election
Government will need the full and active support of the Civil Service,
the Uniformed Services, and Civil Society.
It is a remarkable testament to the character and strength of Zimbabweans:
just how skilled and professional each of these groups has remained,
despite and throughout the disaster of the last ten years. I find
it immensely reassuring to know that the skills, the professionalism
and the determination remain to serve and to serve well. It will
not be an easy task to recover fully from the wounds of the past,
especially when so many of them have been self-inflicted. But I
know that we can do so without rancour and without revenge. And
in this task, I know that we will enjoy the full support of our
friends and allies, and in particular of South Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
for all these reasons, I am both confident and excited about the
future of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean people have shown remarkable
resilience and a determination to fight for what is right, and for
what should be theirs. And their friends in the region and beyond,
represented by many of you here today, have shown your determination
to stand by us, to support us and to help us. In conclusion I wish
to reiterate that one of the critical reforms being undertaken is
the constitution making process and I am aware of the differing
positions on the process and the misgivings about the nature and
role of the people. We in the MDC believe that getting bogged on
process and not content may be akin to aiming at the trees and missing
the woods. Any opportunity to level the playing field should be
seized by all those who have fought gallantly for the constitution
That, I firmly believe, is a winning team. Together, we will be
able to build the Zimbabwe which I, like all Zimbabweans, have dreamed
I thank you
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