By Morgan Tsvangirai
IT IS appropriate that we mark the second anniversary of the formation of the transitional government rather than celebrate it.
From the outset it is important to state that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) sought to achieve economic stability and growth in the country and to implement democratic and constitutional reforms that would pave the way for free and fair elections to restore the country to a legitimate government.
We implemented policies in the first months of the formation of this government that brought about, and continue to bring, positive change to the lives of all Zimbabweans.
But there is much more that the people of Zimbabwe demand and deserve in terms of both service delivery and democratic reforms.
The rapid delivery in the early days of this administration was a direct result of our positive impact in this government. We managed to mitigate the appalling situation in which our nation found itself after a decade of failed policies and violent repression of the people’s will.
But we have had our own frustrations arising mainly from the deliberate stalling of key reforms that would have set the base for a new and democratic Zimbabwe that is ready to take its rightful place among the family of nations.
From the stabilisation of the economy to breathing life into our schools and hospitals, the advantage of the transitional arrangement over the previous regime has been clear for all to see.
Over and above this, the past year did see some modest gains in delivery to the people.
The largest single investment in the education sector since Independence saw the distribution of 13 million textbooks to all the 5 575 primary schools ensuring that every primary pupil will have access to textbooks.
The end of 2010 saw the economy poised for a growth of 8,1% after we spent the previous 24 months concentrating on stabilising the economy.
The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development opened a one-stop shop that will enable prospective investors to have their papers processed under one roof in less than 48 hours so that we create jobs and expand our economy.
Significant work has already begun to rehabilitate national infrastructure. The dualisation of some major roads, the fibre-optic link to Mutare and the commitment of resources through the fiscus for major dams such as Mtshabezi is a departure from mere lip-service that has been paid to some of these national projects over the years.
In addition, the constituency development fund, where each constituency will receive US$50 000, means that for the first time, parliamentarians will have a chance to embark on major projects with the direct input of their constituents.
Despite the above-mentioned deliverables, the test of any administration is in its ability to provide continuity in the manner in which it achieves a positive impact on the lives of its citizens. In this respect, the latter months of this government cannot be viewed as a success.
Within government, we have seen increasing polarisation as the starkly conflicting visions of the main political parties lead to delay, deadlock or dispute over even the simplest of policies or reforms.
The nature of our government is such that there is both collaboration and competition. Our Zanu PF colleagues concentrate more on competition than collaboration, deliberately oblivious to the coalition government’s important role to have a common vision, to build the economy, to improve the people’s lives and to execute our mandate as spelt out in the GPA.
For Zanu PF, politics has no single rule and their game is based on the need to retain power at all costs. The net result is that the noble objectives of the coalition government have been rendered impotent as our colleagues choose to prioritise power retention as their key deliverable.
In addition, the continued failure to implement even the most simple of the 24 agreed issues of the GPA shows that inherent friction and lack of a shared vision will continue to haunt this inclusive government. The capacity of this administration to deliver is limited, not by time, but by the delay in the implementation of those reforms that are essential if we are to see Zimbabwe move forward to a new, legitimate Government that directly reflects the will of the people.
Thus, the timing of the next elections is not dictated by when, but under what conditions they will be held.
Executive authority in this country is shared and the president has no power to announce an election date without consulting the prime minister. We have to agree on a date, having satisfied ourselves to the existence of electoral conditions that will not produce another contested outcome.
Only when we have achieved the necessary conditions for a free, fair, credible and legitimate election will the MDC consider giving its blessing and participating in such a poll.
Key to achieving this is a new, biometric voter’s roll, a stable and secure environment, a credible electoral body with a non-partisan secretariat, a non-partisan public media, security sector reform and a referendum on the new constitution. We cannot have an election before we achieve these key milestones.
We have seen in the past few months the deployment of soldiers and armed vigilantes in the countryside to recreate the terror of June 2008.
We have heard treasonous talk from senior officials in the police and in the army, all speaking against the freedom of every Zimbabwean to elect new leaders of their choice in an atmosphere of peace and security.
The police, the army and the Central Intelligence Organisation are all national security institutions created to protect the people of Zimbabwe and not to harm them. Over the past two years, these institutions have shown no evidence of reforming; they have failed to adjust to the realities of an inclusive society by refusing to let go of their partisan attitude, which has eroded national confidence at a time when the people want assurance of their security well ahead of the next election.
They have shown no paradigm shift and have deliberately defied the civilian authority in the country, even those that are under the direct control of the Commander-In-Chief. Either the Commander-In-Chief is aware of this or there is now a third force that has assumed control in this country without the mandate of the people.
The people of this country respect national institutions, not individuals occupying positions in those institutions who have the tendency of expressing personal opinions and pretending that they represent the position of the institutions they control.
We have seen the increase in hate speech and unbridled propaganda particularly in the public media where those of us who formed this inclusive government to better the lot of Zimbabweans are being vilified every-day, notwithstanding the fact that we won an election in 2008.
A case in point is the violence that gripped Harare in the past few weeks.
Everyone knows that Zanu PF mobilised its youths to take over foreign-owned shops in the city. But the public media have gone into overdrive misleading the nation that the MDC was at the centre of that violence.
The public media have themselves become a threat to national security by promoting hate, division and even genocide. Article 19 of the GPA is clear on the role of the public media in this inclusive dispensation. It is unfortunate that the public media have allowed one person, who is himself an outstanding issue, to give direction to national newspapers to sabotage government programmes and to vilify some principals of the inclusive government.
The people of Zimbabwe indeed deserve to live under the same conditions, with the same rights, the same security and the same opportunities as the most progressive societies on our continent and abroad. To offer them anything less is an insult.
In this respect, I and my party remain committed to championing the people’s rights, both inside and outside this government.
For too long we have tried to accommodate the arrogant attitude of Zanu PF within this administration. That is not our job. It is the people who will ultimately judge them for their attitude and actions.
In the meantime, as the victors of the 2008 elections, we have a mandate from the people that we are determined to fulfill, either with the assistance of our partners in government or despite their resistance.
This will not be an easy task, but in agreeing to form this inclusive government, it is a task that I undertook to achieve.
Naturally, I had hoped that, having lost the elections, Zanu PF would be honest and sincere partners and would realise that their methods, their propaganda and their policies of self-enrichment at the expense of the people have no place in a new Zimbabwe.
From where we stand today, it is obvious that we overestimated them. We overestimated their capacity to respond to the growing cacophony of Zimbabweans demanding real change in the country; ordinary people demanding a break from the ruinous past in favour of a bright, beckoning future.
Zanu PF’s continued abuse of natural resources and national institutions to further party political agendas — their willingness to unleash violence against innocent Zimbabweans — and their stubborn refusal to allow audits, investigations or exposure of their misuse and mismanagement of government is evidence of the struggle that confronts all of us who are committed to delivering real, positive change to the people of Zimbabwe.
For a party that shouts so loud about the overwhelming success of the land reform programme, you would think that they would welcome an impartial audit into the beneficiaries, impact and fairness of such a scheme.
And yet they shy away from any attempt to shine a light into the dark crevices of their past activities. Whether it be on land, diamonds or parastatals, Zanu PF does not want its record reviewed or exposed.
Rather than investigating the findings of the recent Public Service Audit, they are condemning the terms of reference — because it has exposed their abuse of the Public Service — the ghost workers that prevent us from increasing the civil servants’ salaries — the 6 000 employees contracted on one day by one ministry after the March 2008 elections — and the many other instances of patronage and corruption exposed by the audit.
Similarly, their desperate grip on the state media and the national security institutions illustrate a party that fears freedom; that fears the will of the people.
A party that knows that it does not have the legitimacy or support to stand and be judged on its own merits.
It is for these reasons that the coming year will be an uphill struggle for the MDC, for civil society, for Sadc and for the people as we strive to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections.
But, as we have witnessed so recently on our own continent, parties that have lost the support of the people have no guarantee that they can hang on to power indefinitely.
The major lesson from Tunisia and Egypt is the sanctity and eventual triumph of people power; the lesson that the people’s day will come tomorrow, notwithstanding today’s repression.
But, unlike those countries, Zimbabwe already has a transitional mechanism through which the people can express their will, through which they can help shape the future they desire.
This transitional government provides us with the perfect opportunity to set the ground rules for mutual respect and peace among all Zimbabweans, for guaranteeing the people’s basic freedoms to engage in political activity and for far-reaching democratic reforms that will ensure that the people’s will is respected and upheld.
So the main agenda for 2011 is to support the road-map to a free and fair election; a roadmap with clear benchmarks and time-lines that will put in place mechanisms to ensure a legitimate and credible poll.
We may be army generals today, housewives, politicians, chief executives, church leaders, businessmen, peasants or informal traders; our binding philosophy must be to create a lasting and positive legacy for the sake of our children and future generations.
lThis article is an edited version of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s speech at a public lecture on Tuesday in Harare.