MDC-T co-vice president Thokozani Khupe held a meeting in Bulawayo at the Amphitheater. Below is her full speech:
MDC ACTING PRESIDENT BULAWAYO RALLY SPEECH
SUNDAY 18 MARCH 2018
Today I stand in front of you as a proud legitimate and constitutionally elected Acting President of the MDC, because of the unconditional love you continue giving to me.
We gather here one month and four days after the sad passing on of our founding President Dr Richard Morgan Tsvangirai, a colleague and a brother in the struggle for democracy. What is even more painful on the passing of the late President is that he had not yet attained the fruits of our struggle of a free, non-violent, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe.
As we speak, Zimbabweans are currently going through untold suffering with more than 80% of the population living in abject poverty, misery and destitution. The majority of the people are living on less than one dollar per day in a country which is endowed with enormous mineral resources and yet there is nothing to show that we are a rich country.
As an MDC government we have a plan. A plan that will ensure that every Zimbabwean has a better life. A plan which has 6 key areas:
First and foremost we want to change the governance culture. The constitution must be respected and implemented to the letter and spirit in which it was written. We want to uproot the cancer which is corruption that has destroyed the social fabric of society.
Secondly, institutional reform is key especially in ensuring that the Police, the Zimbabwe National Army, all other security agencies and government departments stick to their core roles and duties in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Devolution, as clearly provided for in the supreme law of the land, must be immediately implemented. Local communities should be permitted and duly empowered to benefit from the natural resources that are found within their respective regions. We also call for the genuine respect of our all our traditional leadership institutions such as chiefs, headmen and kraalheads. We strongly condemn what happened on March 3, 2018 where the Government stopped the installation of His Royal Highness Bulelani Lobengula Khumalo.
Thirdly, infrastructure development needs to be prioritised. Amongst other things, we also need to develop our transport infrastructure for ease of movement of passengers and goods. We also need to reform and develop the energy and water sectors as these are some of the core sectors needed for industry to operate effectively. Zimbabweans should be able to access suitable housing and shelter. In addition, our health delivery system has to be revamped to enable all Zimbabweans to easily access health care at affordable cost. In this instance, we are deeply concerned by the ongoing industrial action by junior doctors and other health professionals and we call upon the Government to immediately take measures to rectify this very unfortunate development that is causing untold suffering to the majority of our people. Education should be universally accessible to all Zimbabweans and indeed, we shall take measures to ensure that primary education is made free and also that tertiary students can access affordable student grants and loans.
Fourthly, the current problem that our economy is facing is economic stagnation. In order for the economy to revive we need to attract foreign direct investment through investor friendly policies and ease of doing business. This will lead to job creation. Zimbabwe is one of the most educated nations however the sad reality is that we are producing graduates with no prospects of employment. The youths are the future and yet the majority of them are unemployed and as we stand we have an entire generation which is in danger of not having the desired life that they want and deserve. The Zimbabwean economy is highly informalised with more than 5.4 million people surviving within the informal sector and yet informalisation does not facilitate capital accumulation. It is therefore important that the formal sector starts operating so that production will be the order of the day. This will then lead to the exportation of goods that will earn the much needed foreign currency which will end the liquidity crisis and phase out the bond notes resulting in the use of one strong stable currency. We shall ensure that there is mainstreaming of gender in all facets of our life, and particularly we should promote the empowerment of vulnerable groups such as women, the young and people living with disabilities.
Fifthly, there is need for Zimbabwe to return to the family of nations because we cannot continue to operate as a pariah state. We need other countries and those countries need us. Indeed, it is Zimbabwe that needs the world more than the world needs Zimbabwe. We are living in a globalised world and Zimbabwe need to be part of it in order to enjoy the benefits such as being able to access financial and capacity building support from the IMF, the World Bank and other international bodies for socio – economic development purposes.
Sixthly and finally, confidence building is fundamental to our national development and this can only be realised through the conduct of a free, fair and credible election. This should not be just a catch phrase that political parties say, this 2018 election should truly be free, fair and credible not only in words but in action. We need electoral reforms, media reforms, security sector reforms and non-violence just to name a few. Zimbabwe can only get back to legitimacy through a democratic process, without this we cannot restore confidence in our beloved Zimbabwe.
For Zimbabwe to develop it needs to have a strong democratic foundation. This can only be achieved through a constitutional democracy. We cannot have a country that is a constitutional democracy if we as the MDC do not follow our own constitution. When the MDC was formed in 1999, its formation was founded on a strong belief in constitutionalism. The MDC is a party that believes in the supremacy of the constitution, democracy, non-discrimination, equality and non-violence.
The current events that have unfolded have gone against our values and principles as a party and have changed our character and culture. The violence that took place during our departed President’s funeral in Buhera and at the Bulawayo office on the 4th of March 2018 was unacceptable and goes against what we have been fighting for, for the last 18 years. Many brave men and women have sacrificed their lives for this party’s values and as true cadres of the MDC we cannot stand by and watch while the party takes a direction opposite to what we fought for and continue to fight for. It is not about the easy thing to do, it is about the right thing to do.
We have come a long way with our colleagues however they seem to have taken a different path. A path which is against and does not respect the constitution, a path which does not respect democracy, a path which is violent, a path which discriminates on the basis of ethnicity and a path which discriminates against women who by the way constitute 54% of the voting population and therefore not only do they deserve a seat at the table but also deserve to head that table. We will not be silenced by violence or threats of violence. Personally, I will not stop fighting for the emancipation of women.
We who are gathered here collectively will always stand and be guided by the founding values, ethos, principles, character and culture of the MDC. We will not stand with those who have opted to use violence, defy the constitution, discriminate and go against the core values of the MDC. With a clear conscious, we are parting from these actions and we will continue to pursue the democratic project of taking the people of Zimbabwe to the Promised Land. Naturally, we shall very soon be going to an extra – ordinary Congress that will elect a new substantive leader of the MDC as provided for by the party Constitution and I hereby urge all of us to respect the outcome of the extra – ordinary Congress.
We demand that there be change, a change which will respect the Constitution. A change which will respect democracy, a change which will be against violence and a change which will be against all forms of violence and discrimination. The time has come and the time is now for us to take a stand and say enough is enough. We all want to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord, the eyes of the law and indeed in the eyes of the societies that we live in. The time has come for a new Zimbabwe, not only for some but for all citizens regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, creed and religion. The time for us to stand up and be counted is now.
In this respect, therefore, we shall also pursue the formation of a holistic, viable and broad – based grand coalition of all progressive and democratic political forces that will face Zanu PF in the forthcoming harmonised elections. We shall always remain open to any forms of collaboration that are aimed at establishing a truly democratic and stable nation state in Zimbabwe.
Today, we boldly declare that we are the MDC and always shall remain the MDC that believes in not only respecting but also strictly upholding the party constitution as well as the party’s founding values, principles, character and culture. Going forward, we hereby immediately dissociate ourselves from any members of the MDC who are resorting to the use of wanton violence, intimidation and thuggery as tools for political mobilisation. Additionally, we also unreservedly and unashamedly declare that we are not going to be part of any political formation that doesn’t abide by the dictates of the MDC constitution.
If God is for us then no one can be against us. Indeed, God is for us who are gathered here today and we will continue to fight the good fight to one day attain a truly democratic Zimbabwe.
May the Lord Almighty Bless you all and may He Bless Zimbabwe.