Dear Zimbabweans, we have come to the end of yet another tempestuous year; a year in which our faith and belief in the capacity of government to stand by its word has been seriously betrayed.
Zimbabweans are suffering. The carnival atmosphere synonymous with this time of the year is sorely absent in the country. In the run-up to this festive season, we are not seeing housewives pushing full trolleys out of supermarkets and food chains as they did during the inclusive government era. All we see are hard working vendors crowding our streets and struggling to survive.
We have simply become a poor nation of vendors; a country where everyone is trying to sell something to someone.
The people have no money in their pockets; there is no food in our homes and yet the shops and supermarkets are full of goods and products we cannot afford.
Only last year, those in the seat of government, after stealing yet another election, promised to create 2,2 million jobs, increase productivity in our industries and more disposable income in people’s pockets, among many other promises.
But the reality is something completely different; companies are closing, all hope is now completely shattered and the economic prospects remain dim for the country and its people. In my state of the nation address on 24 January this year, I warned that the prospects for the country would remain bleak as long as we did not address the elephant in the room; a government without the people’s mandate that pretended to be steering the affairs of the State.
Added to that is a senile President with a vituperative wife and a party that has prioritized in-fighting at the expense of the problems facing the ordinary citizens of this country. The net result is a despondent people with a clueless party in the seat of government.
That is the sorry national circumstance under which we must “celebrate” this year’s Christmas. It is under this heavy cloud of despondency that we must rejoice and rekindle our faith in the Lord and Jesus Christ whose birth we will remember and cherish on Christmas day next Thursday.
Our current situation
Indeed, we are a nation in dire straits. All the promises made in the run-up to the last election have gone up the drain and even projected growth figures have had to be drastically reduced downwards. Even conservative official statistics have failed to mask the gravity of our sad predicament.
Apart from the US$1 billion spirited out of this economy weeks after the stolen election due to lost confidence, over 4 000 companies have closed and more than 55 000 people have lost their jobs.
In the recently announced budget, about 81 percent is going towards recurrent expenditure, crowding out the productive sector and other pressing needs to do with infrastructure development and economic revival.
To cap our embarrassment, we have just been told our diplomats have not been paid for over 20 months and our diplomatic missions risk being ejected from properties we occupy in foreign capitals around the world.
We have failed to pay our annual subscriptions to the African Union as well as our SADC mandatory pledges, even though President Mugabe is at the helm of both institutions. Our current sad reality is worlds apart from the make-believe world depicted in ZimAsset, a Zanu PF policy programme that has failed to assume any life outside the neatly packed blueprints in government offices.
The ambitious programme had promised the creation of 2,2 million jobs, the construction of 250 000 low-income homes, a growth rate of nine percent per annum, 310 public schools and 300 more clinics up to 2018. But there has been a huge chasm between that dream and the sad reality. There has been no statecraft in the cockpit of State and the mediocrity in the corridors of government is alarming, even by Zanu PF’s usual poor standards.
Last-week’s so-called cabinet reshuffle failed to inspire any confidence in the nation as it was simply a shuffling of the chairs in the Titanic. The ‘new’ brooms are the same ‘old’ characters who have failed to deliver over the years.
Mugabe has lived true to the adage that there is always so much deadwood in a Zanu PF Cabinet that one can make an ark!
The MDC moment in government
The current dark clouds under a Zanu PF government are in stark contrast to the progress registered under what I would call “the MDC magic moment in government.” Zimbabweans have no doubt whatsoever about our capacity to deliver.
In 2009, we restored the people’s battered hope and faith in government. We gave government workers some semblance of dignity, opened schools and hospitals that had closed and increased revenue collection from $280 million in 2008 to $4 billion by 2012.
We restored relations with multilateral institutions and the broader international community, which is why we were able to mobilize resources for the Education Transition Fund (ETF) and the Health Transition Fund (HTF) through which we were able to resuscitate those critical social sectors.
We restored the value of honesty, transparency and accountability which is why even as they trade accusations of graft and corruption at each other, they have no scandal to tell about us during our period in government.
We know we ought to have done more as a government, but Zimbabweans know how Zanu PF stood in the way of everything progressive, particularly in the area of reforms. But we remain proud of our moment in government and Zimbabweans will testify to how life was far much better during the days of the MDC in government. But we also learnt our lessons. While we formed the inclusive government to give respite to the people, we were in the end taken for granted and we gave Zanu PF a lifeline in the process. For the avoidance of doubt, we will not repeat the mistake of implanting a government on top of a Zanu PF hegemonic super-structure.
In short, we will never agree to any invitation to government that will give Zanu PF a kiss of life without the addressing the fundamentals of key reforms and dismantling the partisan bureaucracy that impeded progress under the previous inclusive dispensation.
The MDC has just concluded its Congress where we discussed substantive issues and took far-reaching decisions on many key issues. We discussed the institutional realignment of the party guided by our experience for the past 15 years. We also discussed the new paradigm that we must adopt to win the next election, the review of our party constitution in order to enhance role clarity, and a comprehensive review of the party’s policies and the MDC government agenda.
In our comprehensive policy review, the party adopted a clear and unequivocal position as we make the case for a comprehensive land reform programme, war veterans support, clarity on our agenda for the social sectors such as water and sanitation, health and education.
Our position on all these issues, guided by our experience in government and our social democratic ethos, is part of our resolutions of the MDC’s 4th Congress held last month. Having learnt a lot from our painful experience, we also adopted far-reaching resolutions including one which says that as a party, we will never again participate in any election in the absence of comprehensive reforms that enhance both the framework and environment for free and fair elections.
As I said in my treatise entitled “Personal Reflections”, while we knew that Zanu PF would attempt to steal the election, we were of the mistaken view last year that our sheer numbers were going to overwhelm any planned electoral mischief. Regrettably, we were wrong and our 4th congress has now resolved that we will only participate in a truly free and fair election.
Moreover, our Congress adopted a roadmap to legitimacy with signposts such as a national convergence conference where people of all diversity will be invited to discuss and agree on the national grievances and collectively chart the way forward.
The signposts also make it clear that the people would need to take action through petitions and demonstrations, permitted under the new Constitution, and culminate in a free and fair election as a penultimate condition for the return to legitimacy, which is at the centre of the national crisis.
We in the MDC have resolved that the situation in the country will not take care of itself without us doing anything about it. We have a plan to determine the endgame so that the country returns to full legitimacy and regains lost confidence.
The national convergence is already palpable and clear for everyone to see. If the minority in Zanu PF are now suspending and firing the majority on the basis that those being suspended are against the status quo, it confirms that there is now national consensus beyond just the MDC that the country needs to start on a new slate.
Students, workers, the unemployed, housewives, vendors and every other Zimbabwean must know that it is us who will rectify our own situation. Ultimately, the fate of this country is in our hands and we must be prepared for that ultimate action, permissible under the laws of this land; indeed action that will demand, shape and determine the environment in which people will freely give a mandate and legitimacy to a government of their choice.
We in the MDC will not let down the people; we are clear on our national mandate and the complex dictates of the current political moment.
We are not resting on our laurels.
I have just gone around the entire country conversing with all the newly elected provincial leaderships of the party, discussing a lot of issues including our policies, vision, the strategy for the endgame and how we hope to achieve positive change for the people of this country.
The faith that the millions of Zimbabweans have invested in the MDC is not misplaced. We will definitely deliver on the mandate that history has placed on our shoulders; the mandate for the positive transformation of lives of the people of this country that we so much love. Let us all use this festive season to reassure ourselves that we are all masters of our own destiny.
As we ponder over the country’s current sad predicament, let us continue to show the values of love, solidarity and togetherness that have always characterized the festive season. Let us share the food we have with others and show true love to those close to us, including the elderly, the mothers and the innocent children who are bearing the brunt of this national crisis.
Let us strengthen the gift of love by spending the holidays with our families, our parents and all our loved ones, including the infirm and the destitute. This time of suffering must bring all of us together in the true spirit of love and solidarity.
I, Morgan Tsvangirai, may be despondent like everyone other Zimbabwean, but my spirit is not broken. This being the month when Christ was born, let us keep the hope and faith that God will continue to lead and guide us.
Like most Zimbabweans, I will be going to my rural home in Buhera this tough festive season to spend time with my family and my beloved mother, Mbuya Tsvangirai. Let us maintain the spirit and faith both in the Lord and in the chastity of our own struggle for a better Zimbabwe.
Let us pray for this nation and its leadership in government so that their quest for power and control does not distract them from their responsibility to govern us well.
Let us pray for President Robert Mugabe so that he understands the enormity of the national plight; so that he considers the national crisis more important than any other needless political sideshow because it is his party that is in government.
Let us pray for our families. And please pray for those of us in the MDC and the broader democratic movement so that individual ambitions do not become greater than the plight of the people. Pray for us so that we deliver democracy and the positive change that the people of this country so much desire and deserve. I have no doubt in my mind about the capacity of the MDC to deliver a new country with a new, democratic governance culture.
We in the MDC are passionate about creating opportunities for all Zimbabweans, regardless of our diversity. We want to create a country with opportunities for the right and the poor, the farmer, the student, the housewife, the worker, the economically disabled and even the disabled and the infirm.
Yes, our catchword is the creation of a stable, prosperous country with abundant opportunities for all.
Together, we will do it.
Merry Christmas, Zimbabwe.
I thank you