|The Zimbabwe Debate
Zimbabwe Coalition: Will the Center Hold?
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) utterly rejects the notion of one-party or one-man rule and any suggestion that power is an entitlement through historical legacy, or a God-given right of an individual or individuals. Political leaders should only serve and act on the basis of a mandate of the people. The MDC was given that mandate on March 29, 2008, when the people of Zimbabwe rejected the one-Party and one-man rule.
|Hon. Morgan Tsvangirai|
In September 2008, I signed an agreement, allowing for the formation of a joint transitional government with Parties which the people had rejected, for several reasons.I did so to help end the needless suffering of the people of Zimbabwe inflicted on them by the failed and corrupt policies and abuses of the previous regime. I signed this agreement when the whole world was sceptical about the wisdom of working with Mr Mugabe. As a leader and for the sake of this country and the security and welfare of our citizens, I took a leap of faith and signed the agreement.
I was prepared to work with Mr Mugabe to allow him to address the mistakes of the past, and to help him to rebuild his legacy. Despite the challenges that I have faced, I have repeatedly said that whilst our relationship was not perfect, it was workable. However, the events of the past few months have left me sorely disappointed.
The MDC formed this Government with others on the basis of clear and public assurances that Mr Mugabe and his Party would respect and abide by the principles of democracy; respect the freedoms of the individual; govern for the people and not for themselves and accept that the mandate to govern comes from a free expression of democratic will, not from a God-given right or from a campaign of violence and intimidation. I was prepared for the sake of our country to sit alongside my yesteryear’s enemies and tormentors to rebuild a stable and democratic country.
ZANU PF has sorely disappointed us all in the conduct of the constitutional outreach meetings. The activities of rogue elements of the security agencies alongside state actors directed by ZANU PF was clearly designed to deny citizens their right to have their views heard. ZANU PF is determined to tell citizens what they should think, and to intimidate, bully and beat up any who disagree. This goes against the fundamental principles of democracy.
We have had a dispute over the appointment of Governors, along with a number of other unilateral and illegal appointments which the President has made following the signature of the GPA. The Constitution clearly says that such appointments must be done in consultation with the Prime Minister.
Mr Mugabe publicly stated to African leaders in Windhoek that he “has never and will never violate the Constitution of Zimbabwe.” Sadly, he has done so not once, but time and time again. In March 2010, he appointed the Police Service Commission when the Constitution clearly says that all Service Commissions must be appointed in consultation with the Prime Minister. On 20 May 2010, he unilaterally swore in five new judges to the Supreme and High Courts without consultation. On 24 July 2010, he unilaterally appointed six Ambassadors without consultation. On 24 September 2009 whilst in New York on CNN, Mr Mugabe stated publicly and unequivocally that he would swear in Deputy Minister Roy Bennett if Roy were acquitted of the absurd charges brought against him. He said categorically: “yes, yes, yes, if he's acquitted, he will be appointed.”
Roy was acquitted on 10 May, but again, Mr Mugabe has gone back on his word. He confirmed to me and DPM Mutambara that he has no intention of ever swearing in Roy. The matter of Roy Bennett has now become a personal vendetta and part of a racist agenda. These high-profile breaches of the Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe demonstrate that Mr Mugabe believes that the offices of the Government of Zimbabwe are there to serve him, not the people. Every extra-judicial arrest of citizens is a clear breach of the Constitution.Every act of intimidation or violence by state or ZANU PF actors is a clear breach of the Constitution.
In this respect, we urge South Africa to release the Report of the Retired Army Generals who investigated state sponsored violence and its implications on the electoral process and results in 2008. Every act of censoring or curtailing individuals’ or journalists’ freedom of speech is a clear breach of the Constitution.
I have desperately tried to avoid a Constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe; worked tirelessly to make this transitional Government work, in the interest of all Zimbabweans and spoken in support of this Government. But neither I, nor the MDC, can stand back any longer and just allow Mr Mugabe and ZANU PF to defy the law, to flaunt the Constitution and to act as if they own this country.
Mr Mugabe was one of the leaders of the liberation struggle which led to our country’s independence 30 years ago. For those efforts, and for all the sacrifices of those who fell in that struggle, Zimbabweans will forever be grateful. But no actions of the past translate into a right to wield power in the present. That right derives solely from a mandate from the people. And citizens rightly judge their leaders on their record in office.
We are all - citizens, politicians, soldiers, policemen, workers, mothers, fathers and children – subject to the Constitution and laws of this country. None of us own that Constitution and none of us own this country. None of us, whatever our history, are above the law. We are all but caretakers for future generations.
We must make a stand to protect the Constitution of Zimbabwe and to return it to the custodianship of the citizens of Zimbabwe. We will refuse to recognise any appointment the President has made illegally and unconstitutionally over the past 18 months. We similarly call on the people of Zimbabwe not to recognise these individuals as the legitimate holders of the posts to which they have been unconstitutionally and illegally appointed. In doing so you must all remain peaceful.
I call upon Mr Mugabe to return the country to Constitutional rule by correcting the unlawful appointments. I invite SADC to join me in calling on Mr Mugabe to respect the SADC Resolutions, the SADC Charter and Protocols, the AU Charter, and the principles of democracy. I invite SADC to deploy observers before the constitutional referendum to help protect the rights of Zimbabweans to express their views freely and without violence or intimidation. I invite SADC to urgently intervene to restore Constitutionality in Zimbabwe.
Mr Mugabe has tried to link many of these issues, including the appointment of the Governors of this sovereign country, to the lifting of restrictive measures on him and his political cohorts by other sovereign, independent countries. Zimbabweans know that Mr Mugabe and his colleagues brought the restrictive measures on themselves through the flagrant abuses of human rights and the economic disaster which they inflicted on this country. Zimbabweans know that these restrictive measures are the result, not the cause of that economic disaster. They know that these restrictive measures affect the individuals concerned, not the country as a whole, as the economic turnaround since my Party joined the Government has shown.
I believe in the GPA, and I believe in sticking to my word. I will continue to work for the implementation of the GPA in its totality, including the lifting of restrictive measures. Mr Mugabe and his colleagues know that the keys to achieving this are already in their hands.
I do not want to understate the nature or extent of the current crisis. It is nothing short of a Constitutional crisis, which is why I have urged SADC to intervene as a matter of urgency. But we cannot allow this crisis to derail our efforts to change Zimbabwe.
I appeal to all Zimbabweans, our loyal civil servants, our loyal police, and our loyal armed forces, to work with us in this new struggle for freedom. To ensure that Zimbabwe becomes a Zimbabwe for everyone, not just the self-anointed and chosen few who seek to exploit this country – as did their colonial predecessors – for their wealth and their own ends. I urge my team at every level of government and society to rededicate yourself to serving the people of Zimbabwe. The road ahead is not going to be easy, but our collective future will be better than our present challenge.
By Rt Hon Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC
Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
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