Acting Secretary, Members of the Central Committee, Party Officials, Comrades. I warmly welcome you to this session of our Central Committee which convenes on the eve of our Extraordinary Congress, which is being held under the theme; “Consolidating the Gains of Zim-Asset through Unity, Peace and Development”.
I trust you are all prepared for the long day ahead as we transact the business of our Congress which is expected to provide a good environment for us to make far-reaching decisions that will take our party and our country forward.
In welcoming you, I recognise that this Central Committee is unique as much as it is historic in that I stand before you, addressing this esteemed gathering as the President and First Secretary of the party, subject to the ratification of the resolution you made on the 19th November 2017, which handed me the onerous task of leading our revolutionary party.
Furthermore, the Extraordinary Session of Congress itself is being held specifically to ratify the resolution of that Extraordinary Session of the Central Committee held on 19 November 2017.
Indeed, that historic Central Committee meeting confirmed your status as the highest decision-making body of our party between Congresses, if ever there was any doubt.
I applaud you for your boldness and courage as you did nor shirk your responsibilities or flinch from taking decisions that were needful, against the adverse situation that had developed, threatening our party.
You rose to the occasion showing and demonstrating that organs of the party, more so those at the apex, such as this one, must always show unswerving leadership for the survival of our party.
In addition, that determining Central Committee meeting had a direct meaning to me specifically as the decisions and resolutions made therein ended my brief exile, in the process clearing the way for my return into the country and into the party from which I had been illegally, summarily dismissed.
I am truly grateful to you who made that happen and took a further step as you resolved to elevate me to be the President and First Secretary of the party; I am deeply humbled by that show of confidence which I hope to justify by giving my utmost best.
I further recall most heartily how much you placed me uppermost in your thoughts when I was taken ill in August this year. That I am alive and fully recovered attests to how your prayers were heard and to the faithfulness of our Almighty God.
Indeed the hardest crises and setbacks turn out much lighter and more bearable with overwhelming support from comrades such as yourselves, who become true keepers of our destiny.
Comrade members of the Central Committee, In moving forward, let us recognise and acknowledge the achievements that our party has made to date as led by my predecessor, the Former President and First Secretary, Cde R. G. Mugabe.
In so doing, however, let us not lose sight of the need to move purposefully forward, to repair the party and put it on a vibrant keel. The Central Committee, as the highest decision-making body between Congresses, must assume full responsibility of this mammoth task of re-engineering our party.
This responsibility must never be abdicated or usurped for expediency. Not so much to feel pompous and indispensable, but to realise and wake up to the heavy responsibilities which it should discharge.
As members of the Central Committee, we must realise that our temperament and judgment become the temperament and judgment of our party, and in-turn set the pace and tone of our party. Our thinking becomes the thinking of the party; our actions, too, become the actions of the party.
Conversely, our missteps become the missteps of our party; our acts — whether of commission or of omission — become the acts of our party. Being the party of national liberation, national unity, peace and development, our deeds or misdeeds reverberate throughout our nation because we are the leaders.
This is the heavy responsibility we in here all carry. I make the above observation in view of recent developments in our party, and which also became developments which affected our nation in a major way.
This is with reference to attempts by a cabal of counter-revolutionaries, infiltrators and foreign agents who went under the moniker of G40, to destabilise our party and hijack our revolution.
As a result of their activities, the negative development in our party echoed throughout our nation, confirming that the stability of the country is inextricably tied to the stability of Zanu-PF.
Thus, we must draw lessons from all this, including hard and uncomfortable ones which have come to pass. It was indeed disheartening as party structures seemed helpless as the cabal pursued its sinister programmes using platforms, structures and the personnel of our party.
The Interface rallies
The majority of us thought the interface rallies were for mobilising Zanu-PF, no, no, it was an agenda. They undermined party rules and procedures while pretending to be upholding and defending them.
They undermined the leadership of the party while pretending to love and defend it. Their programme, therefore, was one of subverting the party from within. A key lesson to draw from all this is how important it is to remain vigilant in the party.
This means insisting on and ensuring the supremacy of the party by foregrounding its values and its ethos; by upholding its rules and its procedures, indeed by respecting its structures and procedures, indeed by respecting its structures and processes.
All these must reign supreme at all times, taking precedence over individual status, wishes or predilections. Never again, should the Central Committee watch while indiscipline, personalisation and abuse of the party and its structures take root.
From the past events within our party, it must henceforth be ingrained in all of us that the party constitution is supreme and must be followed without deviation, to the spirit and letter; and that no one individual or groups of individuals are superior to it.
The constitution is the soul of our party, a straitjacket that prunes our behaviour and conduct as members; it moulds us so that we do not break, for it gives us shape and form.
The duty of every genuine cadre of the party is to ensure that this holds true at every level of the party, at all times and in all situations and circumstances. The trying times we went through as a party undoubtedly tested our resilience.
Events preceding this Congress also allowed our qualities as the party to show and shine, principally the quality that enables us to show mercy on those that genuinely erred, while working hard to rehabilitate them in order to reintegrate them into the party fold.
In this regard, we have been able, in a very short time, to rid contradictions, however, antagonistic, and to mend broken relations so that we move forward in unity and newfound harmony within the party. In this vein, I exhort the party to outgrow the urge for vengeance and vindictiveness so it rebuilds and moves forward around this abiding ethic of mercy and forgiveness.
Let us say NO to retribution, albeit remaining vigilant. As the curtain comes down on our Extraordinary Congress tomorrow, it will be expected that you who represent the highest body outside Congress, will show the way through discipline, respect for the constitution, exemplary conduct, and restraint from excesses and inspire magnanimity.
As you are all aware, I am completing the term of my predecessor and our past President and First Secretary Cde R. G. Mugabe. Between now and the next elections is a few months.
Given that overbearing fact we cannot afford divisions which weaken our focus while they dissipate our collective energies in wasteful intra-party conflicts. We need every vote including that of our members who may have been misled by the cabal, and whom we must now rehabilitate and bring back into the party fold.
Lest there is confusion, may I point out that the Extraordinary Congress we are set to have tomorrow is not an elective one in respect of the Central Committee and all other organs of the party.
The congress will therefore extend the tenure of you the current Central Committee Members, which would have ordinarily expired in 2019, by another five years! This means that luckily, you here now stand to serve the party for another five more uninterrupted years until the next congress which falls due in 2022.
I hope this clarification allays all anxieties and stops the jostling that had begun to negatively affect the party. Meanwhile, provinces will be permitted to fill vacancies where they exist.
The Extraordinary Congress we hold tomorrow will fundamentally be, by no means a form of celebration, but it marks the beginning of hard honest work that is ensuing, of rebuilding all organs of our party from the cell upwards. These must now be inspired not just for a thunderous showing, but as part of our broader return to full vibrancy.
I am particularly concerned with the situation in both the Women and Youth Leagues which were the greatest victims of the counter revolutionaries who had captured the party. These two vital organs of our party must receive our urgent, but compassionate attention so we put them back on the rails.
In respect of the Youth League, conscious effort must be made to ensure vigorous interventions from the commissariat so that the youths reconnect with the ethos of the struggle and the value system of the party as it has evolved over the years.
Regarding the Women’s League, I will tomorrow announce the new leadership. The Extraordinary Congress equally marks a shift in paradigm of the party as we, more than ever before, concern ourselves with the bread and butter issues that affect our people we lead.
The party at all levels must give due attention to the developmental and economic issues within their Wards, Districts and Provinces. Leaders must be truly servants of the people, moved by matters that affect the people.
There is thus, greater need going forward, for a more symbiotic relationship between party and Government ministries, departments and agencies at the grassroots level. This will be essential to ensure that we deliver the promises we make to the people as the party.
Party members must be encouraged from the Cell, Branch, District and Provincial levels to become participators in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Government policies and programmes. This is indeed in line with the tenets of participatory democracy and governance, which the national constitution exhorts us to encourage.
Furthermore the party is fully aware that one of the major symptoms of our constrained economy is the lack of jobs. We must thus be seen to be practically empathising with the unemployed especially the youths, through concrete interventions both at party and Government levels.
Failure to which, all our mobilisation efforts may meet with indifference and cynicism. You may recall that my inauguration speech and directives to the new administration gave uttermost importance to this matter as needing urgent redress.
We will not be able to accomplish much for as long as our sense of party work remains hidebound in the old template of looking at Zanu-PF as about politics, politics and politics alone.
No more, it’s politics and economics. Let us recognise that the best politics emerge from the market place where livelihoods are made. The Central Committee must be at the centre of this new dynamic new era which must pervade all party work into the future.
Productivity across all sectors must be religiously encouraged, not only at a national level but at a disaggregated Ward, District, and Provincial level. I urge us all to think, sleep, dream and walk productivity.
To this end, all our party members must be encouraged to do the same. Accordingly in today’s agenda we will receive a report from the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement on the state of our agricultural sector and the interventions that we have in store.
The lessons and successes from Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme must embolden us to know that we can overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges as a nation if we are disciplined, united, purposeful and hardworking. We shall be briefed by our new Minister Air Marshall Perrance Shiri.
Furthermore, communities and the party membership must always be kept abreast of the opportunities availed through the various interventions, policies and programmes that Government will implement from time to time. Let us be a party and leadership which has the people in mind, which puts the interests of the people we lead ahead of our own.
In this regard let us shun corruption and temptations towards self-gain and self-interest. The corrupt tendencies that had in the recent past gripped our nation will not and cannot be allowed to continue. We must thus deal with corruption within the party and corruption in all spheres of public life and business practices.
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once said, ‘‘widespread corruption in high places breeds poverty.’’ We cannot thus in all clear conscience ever condone or ignore corruption as it has the deleterious effect on our nation and impoverishes our people.
It is time that we as a party pledge to fight this evil and join forces with like-minded Zimbabweans until it is completely eradicated from our society. I said, under the new administration, we have given three months for those who have taken money out of this country to bring it back.
I didn’t say that without knowledge, I have a list of who took money out. So in March when the period expires, those who would not have heeded my moratorium I will name them and shame them.
On the external relations front, allow me to acknowledge the support and solidarity we received from sister parties in the region along with Sadc and other international bodies during our recent transition period.
We commend how Zimbabwe was allowed to decide its course and resolve its matters as an independent and sovereign nation within the confines of its laws. Going forward, we call for the unconditional lifting of the political and economic sanctions which have crippled our national development.
We realise that isolation is not splendid or viable as there is more to gain through solidarity, mutual beneficial partnerships which, however, recognise our unique national interests. Government will thus, purse a robust re-engagement process to fully affirm our belonging to the family of nations.
The re-engagement strategy will seek to create new relations whilst holding steadfast to those countries that stood by us during our darkest years. In this regard, measures will be put in place to attract foreign investment and ensure that Zimbabwe is a place where capital feels safe. It has already been done.
I urge you, the leadership of the Party to understand this new trajectory and explain it to our members when the needs arises. As I have already announced, the Harmonised General Elections will be held in 2018 as scheduled. Government will do all in its powers to ensure that these elections are credible, free and fair.
In preparation the Party must invigorate its structures, mobilise, organise and meticulously ensure that all its members are registered to vote. We will, in the coming months, be meeting as the Central Committee to craft more concrete plans with regards to these elections. These elections are nearer than what we expect.
Once again, I welcome you to this Session of our Central Committee fully confident that we will take decisions that will shape the deliberations of our Extraordinary Congress for better and stronger outcomes for our revolutionary party Zanu-PF.
God bless you.
I thank you.