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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s speech on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the Movement for Democratic Change, Sakubva Stadium, Mutare
    Morgan Tsvangirai,Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)
    September 14, 2013

    Vice President Hon. Thokozani Khupe

    Members of the Standing Committee

    Members of the National Executive and the national council

    The leadership of the host province of Manicaland

    Members of the Diplomatic Corps

    Ladies and gentlemen

    1. Introduction

    We have come here today to celebrate the 14th birthday of the people’s party, the MDC. It is with great pride that I express my hearty congratulations on the people’s victory of July 31. Your loud expression was too big that it was stolen. Hurudza ndiyo inobirwa.

    We must celebrate and claim our victory as suggested by the theme of this year’s event, “Celebrating and Claiming the People’s Victory.”

    In our celebration and as we claim our victory, we pledge to conduct ourselves in peace and in full compliance with the Constitution and the rights enshrined in the new people’s charter.

    I know and I can safely say, with pride and certainty, that this party remains the only true embodiment of the people’s aspirations for transformation and the positive change they want in their lives.

    This year’s anniversary comes soon after the greatest electoral theft of our time as characterised by the mood of national mourning that still grips this country.

    All we see are people wondering on the whereabouts of the millions of people who are said to have votes for Zanu-PF because all we see are a sad people whose vote was stolen.

    But we cannot afford to be a despondent people.

    Today, our collective challenge is not to give up.

    There are moments when a heroic people such as the people of Zimbabwe feel low, when a successful farmer does not feel like farming anymore because his granary has been raided.

    We are farmers with a difference and we will retain our conviction in democratic change.

    This is certainly not one of those moments to feel low. For the sake of our country, which we love and for which we have sacrificed so much, we cannot as a people and as a movement be held captive by despondency and despair.

    This is the time when a heroic people only becomes aware and renews its commitment to the mammoth task at hand. Today I want to make it clear to those who have always doubted us and our resolve for real change, that we had budgeted for a marathon and not a sprint. So we remain on course.

    We have always known that the change and the transformation that we seek are not instant coffee.

    We have always budgeted for the long haul and we remain with the same unstinting commitment that we had 14 years ago. For the avoidance of doubt, the MDC is a political reality that cannot wished away.

    If anything, our resolve is greater because we know that the people of Zimbabwe won this election but lost the results. A yes, regardless of what political spin other political parties tell them and their feigned timidity and meekness, history tells us that the people will always claim their victory.

    The MDC at 14

    Today, we proudly celebrate this birthday well aware that we have achieved so much in the last 14 years. We have achieved a lot and garnered so much experience as a party of only 14 years of age.

    Nobody can teach us anything about true leadership and how to give hope to a people disempowered by a clueless government. We have imprinted this party in the national conscience. We have represented the people at all levels of government.

    In the past five years, we have been part of an inclusive government where we have shown qualitative difference from those who led the country until its citizens were fighting for fruits with wild animals. They were clueless until we came in to save the people in 2009.

    We have shown the people of this country that stability and progress are possible which is why the nation is in a state of mourning because government is now in the exclusive hands of those who have a record of failure and not those who have a track record of success, national stability and progress.

    The nation is apprehensive that we, the voice of reason and the face of stability, have been literally robbed of the mandate to govern exclusively.

    But instead of showing policy clarity and telling the nation what they are going to do, they are still busy fighting the MDC; its leadership and my staff. They claim they won this election, so they must govern instead of talking about Morgan Tsvangirai, any member in the party leadership or any staff member in my Office.

    It is now apparent that their fixation with us is an admission that we matter in the people’s agenda and their daily struggles.

    Today we must remember the long and tortuous journey that this party has traveled; the people who have been murdered and who have lost life and limb simply because they wanted change in the country of their birth.

    Today, we remember all those heroes and heroines of the MDC across the country; in urban areas, in the farming and mining towns, in the diaspora and the rural areas.

    We remember all those who are wallowing in prison because of their unstinting belief that as a country we deserve better leadership than the current circus.

    Today we pay tribute to the sons and daughters of the MDC across the country who remain faithful and true to our values and our mission to bring a better life to ourselves and to usher in a new era for our children and for future generations.

    So in a mere 14 years, we have shown the nation that it is possible to believe in a functioning government once again. We have shown this country that we have the capacity to bring change in their lives as we did during our participation in an inclusive government in five years.

    So we are a proud, 14-year old people’s movement.

    Now the people’s hope has been shattered after those that the people rejected claimed to have won in one of the biggest electoral heists of our time.

    How it happened

    Those who stole this election claim to have been overwhelmingly voted by the people, even here in Manicaland where we know you have since declared this province shall never be Zanu-PF again.

    They made a farce of our electoral petition where we intended to expose how this election was stolen. But I want to say here that we had to withdraw the Presidential election petition because we were denied election material and figures. They refused to allow us to bring witnesses to testify.

    We have teachers, school heads and other civil servants who wanted to testify on how they were asked to plead illiteracy.

    We wanted to bring in many witness and cross-examine Tobaiwa Mudede and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief Rita Makarau, among others. We wanted Mudede to explain many things, included the millions of dollars he paid Nikuv without the knowledge of the Minister of Finance and what national services the company had offered the people of Zimbabwe.

    We have sat as a national leadership and received reports from across the country on how these thieves did it and we have frightening information, most of it from some of the players involved in the electoral theft.

    1. A militarised election

    This election was highly militarised. The militarisation started with the deployment of military personnel such as former Air Vice Marshall Henry Muchena and several other former intelligence officials to work at the Zanu-PF headquarters.

    We have a list of 10 senior military officers who were deployed as co-ordinators for the July 31 election in each of the provinces.

    We now have impeccable information that 35 000 youths were trained and deployed specifically in Harare, all Matabeleland provinces and here in Manicaland after Zanu PF said the people in these provinces were “resisting re-orientation programmes run by civilians.” Inkomo Barracks in Harare had 7 343 recruits who went through training and were deployed three days ahead of the election. Named intelligence and military intelligence department officials were working with Nikuv to manipulate the voters’ roll in both rural and urban areas.

    We now know who stole how many carats, on what date, who took them to the intermediary in Angola and how much was paid as the regime mopped national resources to fund electoral theft. We now know which countries, which individuals and companies were at the centre of this electoral theft. I now have the dossier with me, which I will be sharing with heads of State in SADC and the rest of Africa.

    2. Voters’ roll, voter registration and displacement of voters

    Six weeks after the election, we still do not have a copy of the voters’ roll. We now have information that there was a deliberate ploy to prevent registration for a certain age group and people from perceived MDC strongholds. For example, during the initial voter registration period, Mashonaland East, a perceived Zanu-PF stronghold, had 18 mobile registration teams while Harare had only five.

    As a result, Harare had only 27 000 newly registered voters after the intense 30-day registration exercise while Mashonaland East had more than 50 000. 750 000 people in urban areas were disenfranchised while the limited time allocated for voter registration resulted in the disenfranchisement of over two million potential voters, 350 000 of these in Harare alone. Others found their names on the roll of other districts and other provinces.

    While the new Constitution restored voting rights to the so-called aliens, the majority of them could not register to vote as registration authorities continued to make dubious demands that led to most of them being disenfranchised.

    And despite the SADC Election Observer Mission saying the voters roll is at the heart of any election and should be made available to all parties timeously, which did not happen in our case, the same observer mission found our election to have been “generally credible.” An election is either credible or not and surely an election which takes place when other parties do not have a copy of the voters roll is certainly not credible.

    3. Printing of ballots

    There was no transparency over how many ballots were printed and by whom. There was no accountability on how many ballots were printed for both the special voting and the actual election on 31 July 2013. To date, no one has accounted for the printed ballots and we now understand 300 000 Presidential ballots were printed for the special voting even though there were far much less that 100 000 people eligible to vote during the special voting.

    The fact that ZEC printed 8,7 million ballots against 6,4 million registered voters raised suspicion. We have requested for a full national audit of the production and distribution of ballots but that was not done and we were denied access to the required material.

    4. Fake voter registration slips

    The voter registration slips were abused. On election day, we unearthed a scam where tens of thousands of fraudulent slips were issued out and used to vote. In Hatfield constituency, six people were arrested on election day and they confessed to being part of a large group of people that has been issued with fake registration slips. The fake registration slips did not have a block number meaning they could be used to vote at any polling station in a given constituency.

    5. Abuse of traditional leaders and the harvest of fear

    Traditional leaders were told to lead their people on voting day to vote for Zanu-PF. We have a case of three village heads in Mashonaland East who were suspended after the election for not doing what every village head had done, to commandeer their people to the polling station to vote for Zanu-PF.

    We also had teachers, including school heads and principals, nurses and other professionals who are still prepared to testify in court on how they were made to claim illiteracy so that they could be assisted to vote.

    This is probably the only election where headmasters and other senior civil servants were assisted to vote by Grade two drop-outs after they were asked to plead illiteracy.

    In short, it was a peaceful but rigged election. A coup by ballot, a chaotic football match where the referee, in this case ZEC, joins the other team and scores for it!

    The nature of the national crisis

    The crisis we face has become more acute after the stolen election.

    We have a crisis of legitimacy, a crisis of governance and a crisis of national expectations that are not going to be fulfilled because those who created our problems want to pretend they can solve them. Our crisis is that we are expecting a mosquito to cure malaria.

    The national crisis is largely a crisis of mandate and legitimacy. How do you mobilize and inspire the nation with a stolen mandate?

    The people’s enemy first looted in government as evidenced by the Willowgate scandal and the War Victims Compensation Fund, among others. They then went for the land, where most of the chefs are multiple farm owners. They have moved to mines where they are looting the diamonds at Chiadzwa, among other mining scandals.

    Ours is a crisis of a voracious appetite by Zanu-PF.

    Way forward

    The question Zimbabweans are asking each other every day since the great theft of July 31 is, “Where do we go from here and what is the way forward?”

    As a party and as a leadership, we have been talking to the people across the country and they have told us that the way forward is for us to maintain our mass-line and to continue actively engaged in a perennial dialogue with the people, as we have always done.

    Ours is not a boardroom movement stuck only in power point presentations and cyber activism, even though that is important in modern day politics. We continue to be a mass movement that values sitting with the people under the tree in Plumtree, in Mberengwa, in Muzarabani and in Rusitu.

    So I will be joining you there in meetings in the districts across the country as we continue to talk about a new Zimbabwe whose hour is upon us.

    As a party, we will stick to our vision and our agenda of bringing change and real transformation well within our lifetime. We seek to create a society, anchored on a democratic, developmental State, which prides itself fin leaving no one behind in the pursuit of happiness, prosperity, freedom and justice.

    We shall protect our zones of autonomy, our districts across the country, our councils and any space that we occupy. We say no more to sham elections because the game plan of Zanu-PF is very clear. They want to continue to steal elections in the hope that we will lose the appetite for polls.

    It is a deliberate ploy to create apathy so that the minority will then decide on behalf of the majority, as they have just done. We will not allow them and will continue to mobilise the nation to invest and keep the faith in elections.

    We shall pursue, overtake and recover all

    At a personal level, I am inspired by the story of David as a major lesson for victims of theft to salvage their stolen legacy and their pick-pocketed treasure.

    After the enemy had stolen everything from him, as the enemy of freedom did to us on July 31, David does not lie down to cry. He does not resign to fate, as some people hope we in the MDC will do following the daylight robbery of the people’s victory.

    According to the book of Samuel, David asks the Lord whether it would be possible for him to recover his property; his treasure which the enemy had stolen from him. The Lord says to David: “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and recover all.”

    And so the people of Zimbabwe shall pursue the one who stole their destiny. They shall certainly overtake and recover all. As David did, we shall not lie down and cry but we shall pursue the enemy, overtake and recover the people’s victory.

    The people’s will is sovereign and no thief can steal God’s time. The people’s sweet victory and the realisation of the national dream can only be postponed but not abandoned.

    So we shall be around for a long time to come unless and until we achieve what we set out to achieve when we started this movement whose 14th birthday we celebrate today. These are the adolescent years of this teenager called the MDC.

    We shall also not allow reckless and misguided oppression to have its way without pursuing the instigators of this grand and unmitigated theft. We have God’s assurance that we shall pursue the enemy, overtake him, and recover all that belongs to us. We are a nation of heroes and I know we will do it.

    In short, the only way to have a legitimate government in this country is by having a legitimate election; a truly free and fair election in which the people’s will is guaranteed, expressed and upheld.

    We shall continue working towards the unity of all democratic forces so that together, we work towards comprehensive electoral reforms that will allow for the expression of the people’s will.

    We want to pledge here, that you can bank on us and our resolve to bring about democratic change in Zimbabwe. We shall not be swallowed by these electoral thieves. In short, the MDC has become such a great movement that it is unswallowable.


    As a people and as a party, we are still very much in this struggle and will remain a key national player until the change we seek is achieved. We shall remain in a perpetual conversation with the people of Zimbabwe until change comes to our motherland.

    We have a generational mandate to bring democratic change to this country; to have a new leadership that can manage a modern economy in this brave 21st century.

    This is only a dream deferred. But the hope for the individual, the family and the nation has only been postponed but not abandoned. Winners are not quitters!

    I shall be engaging SADC and the AU because they simply do not have the information of how the people’s verdict was stolen. So I shall visit them and update them on what happened during the July 31 theft.

    We remain very much in this struggle. We remain faithful to the national calling for which we have been battered and bruised over the years. As usual, I shall be leading from the front as long as I continue to have you support which you continue to express every-day.

    The MDC will not fail the people of Zimbabwe.

    Happy birthday, MDC!

    I thank you!

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