By Morgan Tsvangirai
My Fellow Zimbabweans;
It is my fervent hope that today, as we celebrate 31 years since we liberated ourselves from colonial rule, we are surrounded by family and friends as we all reflect on the true meaning and significance of the great struggle that we waged.
I hope we will all have time to reflect on what this nation has gone through and whether our current status reflects what thousands died for as they sought to bring freedom, peace and prosperity to a country ravaged by plunder and racial segregation.
For a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe, is the Zimbabwe that our liberation heroes fought and died for. That is the Zimbabwe that has now been hijacked by a small group that is determined to betray our heroes who bravely sacrificed their lives to liberate every Zimbabwean regardless of race, creed or religion.
This small clique has ensured that people’s freedoms are repressed and fear and intimidation brought into our homes, our villages and our townships. I am confident that today, more than at any time in the last 15 years, we are closer to reaching the ideals for which all our true heroes paid such a dear price to achieve.
But I also acknowledge that we still have a hard road to travel before we reach the ultimate goal of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe. What we have learnt over the past three decades is that there are some among us who are determined to make this country slide back to the dark years of repression, violence and intimidation.
We have also learnt that we are ultimately responsible for our own destiny, even though we remain heartened by the brave stance of SADC in standing with the people of Zimbabwe as shown by its recent commitment to ensure and guarantee peace in this great country that we all love.
Just as we decided to take up arms against the white minority government and subsequently, in 1999, to launch a peaceful democratic struggle against a regime that had imposed sanctions and declared war upon its own people, so we today must take responsibility for where our nation is headed.
We must take responsibility for the type of society we are trying to build, for the future that we want for ourselves, our children and our loved ones. It is probable that by the time we celebrate 32 years of Independence, we will be in an intricate and watershed period that will shape and decide our collective future.
Thus, we have a momentous and exciting year ahead of us. A year that will enable us all to choose, determine and put in place mechanisms to ensure we build a strong foundation for the new Zimbabwe that we demand and deserve.
The coming year will also hold many challenges, dangers and difficult choices. But we have already shown that we have the conviction, the courage and the belief in our own capacity to overcome any hurdles and to build the society that we want.
As we enter our 32nd year of liberation, there will be many treacherous voices trying to convince you to shed away your determination for a new and democratic Zimbabwe. All I ask you is to trust in your heart and to embrace the democratic ideals of our fallen heroes and to remain steadfast in your dedication to building a truly free society.
Twenty years after independence we were told that the land would set us free. The same land was later grabbed by avaricious politicians and the well-connected in our society.
Now, thirty years after independence we are being told by multi-millionaires and multiple farm-owners that indigenisation will set us free. By this they are not referring to broad-based empowerment of the ordinary man and woman, but the looting and plunder of national resources by a small, parasitic elite.
Let us not be diverted or distracted by empty rhetoric. Let us not grasp at seemingly easy, short-term gains while continuing to live under the yoke of repression, by individuals driven by partisan political motives and personal greed.
Our police and armed services should defend the people and should do their job, without fear or favour, in terms of our Constitution and by upholding the rule of law will we be nearer to true freedom.
Only when we are free to fulfill our potential as employers, entrepreneurs or employees, as mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters will we be truly free.
Only when our youth are not forced to sacrifice their education in return for empty promises peddled by the false-prophets of patriotism will we be truly free.
Only when we begin to enjoy basic freedoms of assembly, movement, speech and association can we say we have achieved what our gallant sons and daughters fought and for.
My fellow Zimbabweans, let us make this 32nd year of our Independence the most significant time in our history. Let us stand together, work together and pray together so that we can all experience true freedom, lasting prosperity and universal security. That is the Zimbabwe we deserve and the nation that I am committed to building.
And that is the Zimbabwe for which many of our heroes and heroines lost their lives. I make a commitment today that I will lead the collective national effort to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle by ensuring that true freedom returns to this great country of our birth.
God Bless You.
God Bless Zimbabwe.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai – Prime Minister and MDC President