Tuesday, August 13, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai's address to Gweru supporters
Out in force ... Thousands of supporters thronged Mkoba Stadium for Sunday's rally
21/07/2013 00:00:00
by Morgan Tsvangirai

I WANT to recognise Dr Simba Makoni for his commitment to unity of purpose. Dr Simba Makoni told you that we were hoping to work together with other parties because we didn’t want to split the vote. I say to those we were negotiating with but refused to be part of the coalition, the door is still open if you have the best interests of Zimbabwe at heart.

I want to talk about ZEC, which is the body charged with conducting free and fair elections. The information I am receiving is worrying. The fact that ZEC failed to print enough ballot papers for police officers and soldiers to vote and the fact that many people failed to register as voters - thereby denying Zimbabweans their right to vote - undermine the credibility of the election.

I am worried about information that ZEC now wants to print 8 million ballot papers when there are 6 million registered voters. All such actions undermine the credibility of the vote. I want to tell them that it undermines the credibility of ZEC.

I know, for instance, that Mugabe said violence worked against him in 2008 hence the absence of violence in this election. Mugabe wants a peaceful but rigged election. This rigging can only happen if ZEC chooses to be complicit. But our eyes are wide open because we have to protect the vote, we have to protect the voter and we have to protect the outcome of the vote. This is important because we have to ensure that the people’s will prevails.

As we move closer to the election, I am also challenging Mugabe to a live debate on television, where each one of us will articulate our policies on how to make Zimbabwe a better place. I am challenging all the presidential candidates to a public debate so
that Zimbabweans can see who has the best plan to uplift the lives of Zimbabweans.

I am not afraid because the MDC-T has a plan. This is a defining election because it is the last mile. I beat Mugabe in 2008. He admitted as much to me but claimed that “Tsvangirai, you thrashed me but you did not manage to get enough votes to avoid a runoff”.

Of course, I told him he was saved by SADC. So, I am shocked that Mugabe now wants to pull Zimbabwe out of SADC. He forgets they protected him. SADC and I gave him a soft landing. He is an old man so we had to give him that soft landing. Now he says to hell with SADC. That’s what happens when someone is in a false comfort zone. He is forgetting SADC’s role in rescuing him. SADC told him in2008 that he could not form a government without me. SADC told him: “Join Tsvangirai and stabilise the country then go for a fresh election because the vote was a sham and could not be accepted as legitimate by SADC and the African Union.”

Zimbabwe was isolated because Mugabe had turned this country into a pariah state. The MDC-T came into government, stabilised the economy and also got Zimbabwe to be accepted as a member of the international community. Now it’s time to complete this work by voting exclusively for an MDC-T government. We will not take your vote for granted. From day one, we will go to work.

The first task will be to transform the governance culture, which has been there for the past three decades. As the MDC-T we commit ourselves to separate party issues from government matters. This has been one of Zimbabwe’s foremost challenges since 1980. ZANU F had become the party and the government. Even in the distribution of food and services, one was forced to produce a party card.

When you are a government leader you don’t discriminate on the basis of political affiliation. You serve the people equally. We don’t want a government which rules by fear. A government should show love to the people and not hate. You don’t use violence against
your own people.

Also, non-performers in government should be fired. A minister should be fired for failing to deliver. Mugabe doesn’t fire non-performers. He protects them by reshuffling the Cabinet. His cabinet has not changed for three decades yet it has failed dismally. In an MDC-T government, I will fire those who don’t perform to the country’s expectations.

An MDC-T government will have zero tolerance towards corruption because corruption has eroded the ability to distribute the country’s wealth equitably. We are a rich country with poor people. Only a few are enriching themselves while the rest are suffering. One of the biggest challenges that an MDC-T government faces is an educated population with no jobs. The majority of people between 18 and 35 have never been to work. We will have to immediately implement our plan for jobs, investment, skills development, infrastructure revival and a broad based empowerment process, not one which benefits only a few.

In agriculture, farms were grabbed by a few elites who are failing to utilise the land. We cannot even feed ourselves anymore. Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket of Africa, is now a basket case. We have been reduced to being a nation of beggars. Zimbabwe is now begging for food from Zambia, from Malawi. That will be a thing of the past.

Agriculture and rural transformation will become the key intervention strategies to restore our food security and economy prosperity. Social sectors such as education, health, water and housing are in dire need of attention.

As the MDC-T, we have a plan for free primary school education. Parents pay for secondary school and then as government we intervene at tertiary level and provide grants and loans to students at universities. We need to give equal opportunities to all Zimbabwean children regardless of economic status. In health, cancer has become a pandemic so we have to make sure women are tested for free and they should get free treatment. This will be the same with HIV.

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