The following is a speech delivered by main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the launch of the MDC Alliance at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare on Saturday.
By Morgan Tsvangirai
We gather here today having listened to your solemn plea for unity amongst the democratic forces in the country. While all the democratic voices are not here, our diversity here stands as a testament to the encouraging the fact that Zimbabweans are converging on the one important idea of putting the people’s collective interests at the fulcrum of our national politics.
Faced with a failed leadership that has abandoned the people, today we gather here in this political mixture that can only give hope and confidence to a despondent nation.
It is you, the people who demanded this unity and today, we have come here to publicly testify that we heeded your call. We have not closed the door to anyone and more will join this huge people’s train to stability, peace and growth.
Today, we show that we have graduated from a dark past of needless fragmentation. That needless fragmentation not only deflated hopes and punctured national confidence but it slowly led to people staying away from national processes and losing faith in elections.
In the end, apathy and despondency stood out as the winners.
The fight against violence and for political reforms and an even playing field became weaker as our politics became scattered and personalized.
We had to reverse those negative developments that bred apathy and dimmed all prospects of change in this country. The kaleidoscopic mix of our political identities today is meant to infuse hope and to underline the theme of the alliance that we launch here today; and that underlying theme is that Alone, we can go fast but together we go far.
Fellow Zimbabwean, we gather here with the sole aim of going far in meeting the national expectation of bringing positive change in the lives of the people. Far defined as hope, confidence and the honest pursuit of the happiness of the people of this great country. We have no other country except this one and we come to you today united in our diversity to show that we listened to you; to your sonorous cry that together we can only be stronger.
An alliance beyond political parties
We gather here as more than just the seven political parties. As you have seen and heard from the solidarity messages, our alliance goes beyond just political parties to include students, women’s movements, vendors, war veterans, the church, labour, transport operators and touts, the civic movement and other social networks. It is simply a broad church of diverse Zimbabweans brought together by a common desire to bring about positive change in their lives.
Our broad mass shall be stronger and will complete the tortuous journey towards democracy that saw the murder of more than 600 opposition activists in the past 17 years , not to mention the over 20 000 innocent Zimbabweans callously murdered during the Gukurahundi genocide. This arduous and painful journey includes the thousands of sons and daughters of this land who died in the liberation struggle so that our national dream could live again.
So today, we gather here united beyond the parochial banner of party slogans and symbols. We gather here as a broad alliance of Zimbabweans fighting for a new, competent national leadership and the pursuit of a new governance culture in line with a progressive national Constitution that we made ourselves and loudly affirmed in a referendum.
Our common policy agenda
I have said it before and I will repeat it here that this alliance is not just about seats, titles and posts. It is far much greater than that. It goes beyond the narrow and petty interests to include a common and credible policy agenda that will serve as a key signpost to the positive change that we seek as a country.
In the coming months, we will be presenting to you our comprehensive policy agenda for Zimbabwe that we are now polishing up as an alliance. Our coming together is substantively more than just an election pact about seats and a post-election governance structure and will see us present to you a robust policy agenda that we will embark upon after the next watershed election.
Given the comatose state of our industry, our dilapidated infrastructure and the country’s despicable and tenuous predicament, it has become imperative that we embark on a transformation and not a simple recovery agenda. As I have said before, recovery is an understatement of what we need to do. We simply need to start afresh.
Indeed, our national predicament in all facets is now well beyond any patchwork. It simply demands a robust transformative agenda. All alliance partners are converging on that transformative policy agenda that will yield a people’s manifesto with minute details on the key tenets for transformation, not recovery.
Fellow Zimbabweans, I assure you we will not commit the same grievous mistake made by our colleagues when they came into office in 1980, with the mistaken belief that independence was the destination when in fact 1980 actually marked the beginning of a critical phase of the struggle. They came in without a cogent plan and we must not travel the same ruinous path of simply seeking change without a cogent plan.
Our alliance goes beyond simply consigning Mugabe and Zanu PF to the dustbins of history. We are very clear that the real work and purpose of our alliance begins the day after the defeat of the strongman and his clueless colleagues.
Put simply, ladies and gentlemen, our alliance is sprucing up a common policy agenda that we are certain will drive the country out of the current doldrums and put the smiles back on the face of the people of Zimbabwe.
I wish to conclude that today is not a day of speeches but an occasion of celebrating our coming together as you the people demanded.
Today, I have reunited with my former colleagues in the MDC as well as with the leaders of other political parties and social movements that are with us today. We have not allowed ourselves to be prisoners of the past. Instead, we are determined to be drivers of the future. Personal egos and petty differences cannot stand in the way of the fulfillment of a hope whose hour has come.
In the same spirit of our unity here today, I urge the nation to rally together and to encourage each other to be active participants in national processes especially as we brace for the impending voter registration period.
Indeed, alliances, slogans and our endless complaints in the townships and in the villages will not help us if we do not register to vote. In our various political parties and in all our social networks, let us register to vote because our future is literally on our hands. We stand on the cusp of a new country and only a huge turn out on the polling day will make a palpable difference.
Students, vendors, traditional leaders, women’s groups, war veterans and other social movements must all turn out I their numbers to register to vote.
As a coalition and as an alliance, we will traverse the country, reinforcing the same message of encouraging everyone to participate in the bringing of positive change in our country.
We need to restate publicly the gospel of unity. In bars, in churches, in the villages and in the urban areas where we stay, let us remind each other that future generations will not forgive us if we allow next year’s chance to slip away. It is a glorious chance that comes to us the ordinary people once in five years and we must make the most of it.
Let us embolden this huge coalition for change, underpinned by the knowledge that we cannot do this alone in our exclusive social spaces. Let us reunite and join the MDC Alliance in voting for one Presidential candidate, one parliamentary candidate and one ward representative under the banner of the MDC Alliance.
Zimbabweans remember the positive change that we brought into this country between 2009 and 2013, even though we were tethered with clueless partners. With an exclusive mandate to govern this country in 2018 under the united banner of MDC Alliance, we can only do more and go far in fulfilling the collective aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.
Make no mistake about it; you the people under the banner of the MDC Alliance will resoundingly win the next election.
We appeal to the region and to the world to stand by the people of this country as they navigate these dicey moments under a brutal regime. The world must stand with the people and not with the country’s leaders.
Today we begin the march to victory and indeed, together we will go far.
Congratulations Zimbabwe for endorsing this huge alliance as it marches to a resounding victory.
We heard you and we have heeded your call. In my case, I spent one and half months traversing all the country’s districts and the people’s message was clear and unambiguous that that there is no substitute for the unity of all democratic forces.
As our colleagues in Zanu PF disintegrate into factional smithereens–and as they foist on us a clueless 94 year old as a Presidential candidate—let us galvanize the nation for the huge lesson we will teach them in 2018.
That lesson is never to take the people for granted.
August is that great month when we celebrate Heroes Day in Zimbabwe. It is befitting that we have chosen the month of August to showcase this one huge heroic act of togetherness through this massive crowd of many political colours that is gathered here in the Zimbabwe Grounds.
It could only happen at no other venue but the Zimbabwe grounds, that citadel of the national spirit. On the eve of every new dispensation in the history of this country, this venue has always proved to be an unshackled bastion and ceremonial home of people power.
Today, we send a message to the world that together we are stronger.
Indeed, together we can. And together, we will go far.
Together. Tose. Sonke.
Today we have put this regime on notice.
Thank You Zimbabwe