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Tsvangirai speech on launch of Agenda for Real Transformation (ART)

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s speech on the official launch of the Agenda for Real Transformation (ART)

May 18, 2013

Vice President, Hon. Thokozani Khupe

Chairman, Hon. Lovemore Moyo

Secretary General, Hon. Tendai Biti

Members of the Standing Committee

Members of the National Council and National Executive

Provincial Executive Members

Honourable MPs and Senators

Members of the Diplomatic Community

Members of Civil Society

Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the last two days, this policy conference has received, deliberated and scrutinised the party’s Agenda for Real Transformation (“ART”), our blueprint for effective, humane and viable political, economic and social governance. 

Zimbabwean Prime Minister and Movement for Democractic Change (MDC) President Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and his wife Elizabeth greet the audience on the first day of the party's National Policy Conference in Harare, May 17, 2013.
Zimbabwean Prime Minister and Movement for Democractic Change (MDC) President Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and his wife Elizabeth greet the audience on the first day of the party’s National Policy Conference in Harare, May 17, 2013.

We have, as a collective, come up with our ART of governance, a comprehensive policy package that demonstrates our statement of intent and our readiness to govern. We have showcased that we are both a party of excellence and a party of substance.

We have always been a party of substance; our policy direction draws its roots from the Working People’s Convention held in 1999.  What we want; what we ask of the people of Zimbabwe is an opportunity to govern exclusively, without the dilution that comes with an arranged marriage.  We are witnesses to the challenges of policy discord and friction that emanate from forced coalition arrangements with partners of questionable sincerity. What we seek is the undiluted opportunity to govern and implement our policies as presented, debated and agreed at this policy conference.


In summarising the focal points of our ART of governance, allow me to comment first on the process that has brought us to this juncture. The production of this policy package has not been an overnight exercise. It has been a long, consultative and collective process that speaks to our values as a party of excellence and substance. The team that has produced this ART is Team MDC, in that it has involved not only the policy heads of the various portfolios but virtually everyone in the party through our structures as well as our stakeholders. It is not a one man or one woman project but a product of the collective. This culture of collectivism and inclusivity is what makes our party unique.

I was most impressed to observe that even at this conference, there was robust debate, honest critique and constructive engagement on party policy well into the late hours of the night. I salute you all for your commitment to duty and to the cause. We are a party that embraces critical engagement where others would ensure that it is stifled. We believe that open debate and critical engagement on issues is healthy for our party and our country. We want to build a Zimbabwe in which citizens truly speak out and participate actively in governance matters in fulfilment of our commitment to participatory governance. We did not come here to be shepherded like sheep or to sing a chorus. We came here to engage critically and we have done just that. Therefore, where others who are averse to any forms of critical engagement see only criticism, we see wise counsel and we listen to it.

Our 247-page policy document articulates a total of 29 policies dealing with issues ranging from economic management to security services. The policies are grouped under 5 clusters namely: Economic, Infrastructure, Social Services, Rights and Security. In each of these clusters there are a number of specific areas in which the policy direction of the party is clearly articulated.

The reason for publicly presenting and discussing our policy position is to empower Zimbabweans with information so that they can make an informed choice. We want Zimbabweans to know that we are not just seeking power for the sake of power but to truly transform their lives, whose progress has stalled courtesy of poor governance, corruption and mismanagement. The policy position on issues under each cluster is clear and I urge every Zimbabwean to familiarise themselves with our ART of governance.

We also want the people of Zimbabwe to know that our politics is not simply about individuals but about ideas. Our ideas are carried in the policies that are articulated in our ART document in addition to the jobs plan in JUICE. The next election will be around ideas and we have put our ideas on the table.


Our vision is clear. We envision an inclusive society that prides itself for not leaving anyone behind in their pursuit of prosperity, freedom, justice and happiness. To achieve this, the MDC commits to create a modern, healthy, functional, integrated democratic developmental State with a vibrant, socially just and green economy. We envisage a Zimbabwe in which citizens do not live in fear of the State; a Zimbabwe where citizens are left to get on with their lives without the drawbacks of State interference. As a people, we have been traumatised over the course of many years, both before and after independence, and we live in fear of rather than in harmony with the State. This is not healthy. An MDC Government will transform the State and ensure that it serves and is accountable to the people rather that expecting the people to be accountable to the State. We are clear that authority is derived from the people and they are the ultimate principals within the nation-state.

Therefore, on matters of governance, our position is clear in that we want to establish a democratic developmental state. We are a social democratic party and we believe that a representative democracy anchored in a democratic constitution and which prioritises the rule of law is the best form of government. The conference noted that achieving a new democratic Constitution was one of our founding aspirations when the party was formed in 1999. That we have achieved a new Constitution this year is a major milestone both for the party and the country. Now that we have a new Constitution, which we fought for against all odds, we want to take the next step and ensure that there is constitutionalism. We believe it is of no use to have a beautifully written constitution without the requisite will to enforce it.

Therefore, the State must be faithful to the new Constitution to the point of enforcing it against itself where required by the law. This is because willingness to enforce judgments and laws against itself is the hallmark of a responsible Government.  There is going to be comprehensive institutional transformation to ensure that state institutions have a professional, non-partisan and efficient orientation. With constitutionalism, we will ensure the State recognises and respects its limitations under the law; that there is the Rule of Law and the culture of political governance in this country will be truly transformed. The State under the MDC leadership will respect and safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people. We made sure that the Bill of Rights in the new Constitution is comprehensive enough to cover a broad range of rights and freedoms and we will ensure that these are faithfully enforced.

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Economically, we have committed ourselves to transform Zimbabwe’s economy from the “dual enclave”, to one that is democratised and where every citizen is a full participant and realises their full potential. As a social democratic party, we will pursue a social market economy where we will prioritise the use of resources for growing the economy, increasing the national GDP, promoting free enterprise while providing social safety nets to ensure that economic growth is shared by all. We commit ourselves to a democratic developmental state that respects market forces but also ensures that economic growth is shared by all citizens. In a nutshell, we envision a socially just economy.

We will secure property rights while ensuring fair, just and transparent regulation which is prospective, certain and predictable, with clearly stated standards and expectations. There will be no room for retrospective legislation or policy decisions under an MDC Government. Likewise, we will respect property and abide by the Constitutional principles of fairness, due process and compensation. Under an MDC Government, the state will be a facilitator of economic activity to enable innovation and business to flourish.

When business flourishes, the market for jobs expands. There will be more variety and choice for job-seekers. There will be competition among employers which will ensure that those who offer the best terms and conditions get the best labour and consequently in a scenario where there is a “Race to the Top” rather than a “Race to the Bottom”, employees stand to benefit. Together with our jobs blue-print, JUICE, which we re-launch today, the economic policy aims to increase jobs through facilitating investment. All successful economies in history have made provision for greater employment of citizens. While we all have ambitions to own businesses, it is a fact of life that not everyone can become an owner of business. For a business to succeed, it must have a committed and well-catered for workforce. This is why for us, the basic form of empowerment is to create jobs for our people. Job creation is therefore a critical part of our economic empowerment model.

To realise this, our policy position on investment is clear in that we will encourage and facilitate both local and foreign direct investment (FDI). As we have observed, infrastructure development is a key priority and one of the key pillars in our development model. Our policies cover energy and power development, housing, transport, ICT and water management and development. Ensuring that our infrastructure is highly developed will not only create jobs but it will also create an enabling environment for business. We have to modernise our economy in line with global trends and infrastructural development is key in this regard. Therefore, we need massive capital injection to kick-start our stalled economy and FDI, as well as resuscitating lines of credit will assist in that regard. As a party, we enjoy enormous goodwill internationally that we will harness it to facilitate FDI and lines of credit.

We will, of course, encourage fair and sustainable partnerships between foreign and local investors to ensure that we produce a socially just outcome. What we will not do is to use force and threaten business, which discourages investment. We are a country that is blessed with resources and our mines and mining development policy shows that we will modernise our legal architecture to ensure that it is fair, effective, socially just and environmentally sustainable.

Our policy ensures that we will leverage our mineral resources in a way that promotes the enjoyment of wealth by all Zimbabweans. We are totally opposed to elitist personal aggrandisement projects that are disguised as empowerment models. We are completely against models that deter and scare away investors and reduce inward investment. We will create a fair, transparent and efficient Sovereign Wealth Fund that will truly benefit the whole country, not sections or individuals whose sole motivation is unbridled greed. Transparency and proper management of revenues derived from diamond and other mining activities are critical parts of our plans. We will immediately make sure that every Zimbabwean knows how much is being earned from diamond and other mining activities and we will also ensure that it is used in an effective and socially just manner.

We expect all persons, whether individual or corporate to be responsible corporate citizens. Therefore, effective corporate social responsibility will be encouraged. An MDC Government will carry out a major review of the design and implementation of the current empowerment policies to ensure that there is a proper balance between the need to empower people and the call for investment.  Empowerment that deters investment and slows growth is unsustainable as is investment and growth which only serve the interests of a few. As in everything, social justice is at the core of our economic and investment models.

We have a rich agricultural history and it is our objective to restore Zimbabwe to its position as the Breadbasket of Africa. It is embarrassing that after years of plenty we have become a nation of beggars because we cannot produce enough for ourselves. Our dignity has been severely damaged by failure to manage our land and agricultural productivity. Our mission is to create an enabling, inclusive, environmentally sustainable economy that delivers food security, happiness, social services, eliminates poverty and creates wealth.   Security of tenure in regard to land is a key priority for an MDC Government. We will ensure that there is security of tenure which facilitates the process of transforming our land from “dead” into “live” capital, and in the process, will spur agricultural productivity. We will carry out a comprehensive land audit to ensure that land is held and used in fair, transparent and equitable way.


An MDC Government will ensure that the State owns up to its responsibilities for the trauma that the people of Zimbabwe have suffered in the past. Both before and after independence, the State has behaved in an aggressive and predatory manner towards its citizens. The people of Zimbabwe need respite from the State but more importantly, they need justice and national healing. At the core, is the need to strike a balance between the demands for justice by the survivors and victims and the fears of the perpetrators which can be a stumbling block in the transition period.

As a party, in pursuit of our policy on justice, healing and reconciliation, we fought tenaciously to have the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission included in the new Constitution when others were strongly opposed to it. We will ensure when we are in Government that the NPRC carries out its work to heal the wounds of Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, the June 2008 elections and other violations and atrocities that have been visited upon the people of Zimbabwe. We are very clear that there is need for closure among victims and survivors of these horrors that remain scars on the national conscience.


We trace our origins to the labour and constitutional movements and our policies demonstrate our commitment to fair and just labour laws and regulations. Our view is that business has not only a legal but also a moral responsibility to those who make it work: the employees. We will encourage and support collective bargaining agreements; we will ensure the labour laws are harmonised so that the curtain between civil servants and other workers is lifted. We have, through the new Constitution already provided the legal framework for the protection of workers’ rights. We made sure that the rights to strike, demonstrate, fair labour practices, collective bargaining, administrative justice, etc are constitutionally safeguarded. We also ensured the advancement of women at the workplace through provisions that include the right to paid maternity leave, right to equal pay with men, and right to equal opportunities with men. We will make sure that gender-based discrimination is a thing of the past. As a Government we will continue to engage both business and labour to ensure that a socially just and economically sustainable relationship is maintained.


Furthermore, as social democrats, we believe that the State should protect its citizens, especially the vulnerable. Economic growth that benefits only a few and leaves out the rest of the population is ineffective and unjust. We have to carry everyone with us and this is provided for in our social policies that deal with matters of social security, health, education, etc. Both the State and business have a social responsibility to society which they must uphold to ensure there is peace and security.


For us, governance must be encouraged and supported at the local level. We have always advocated for devolution of power to ensure that local communities are empowered to participate in governance at the local level. We are pleased that we pushed successfully for the inclusion of devolution in the new Constitution, in fulfilment of our long held policy. What remains now is the development of relevant legislation and implementation to make sure that devolution delivers on its promise. Our policy speaks to those issues; we have a plan that we believe works.


Internationally, we want to get Zimbabwe back into the family of nations. We cannot afford to live in isolation. We must re-engage the international community and strengthen our relations with all progressive nations of the world. To use the old cliché, there are no permanent friendships in international relations; only permanent interests. We must always place the permanent interests of the people of Zimbabwe at the forefront and not prioritise the personal views and feelings of individual leaders. Our roots are anchored in SADC and the broader family of the AU. They have patiently parented the fragile political process in Zimbabwe and we are grateful for their generosity. An MDC Government will forge stronger ties with SADC and AU countries not only in political but economic terms so that we can promote regional and intra-Africa trade. We do not want to be a problem-child of SADC anymore but to re-take our place as leader and facilitator of peace, prosperity and progress.


Finally, in transforming the institutions of the state, of critical significance are the security services sector. Every country needs the protection of its security services and we believe our brave men and women in uniform can become responsible citizens who abide by their professional standards. In order for them to perform their duties, they need to be provided for adequately in terms of remuneration as well as equipment. The majority of our brave men and women in uniform are professional and have earned high praise on the foreign missions they have attended to in the service of the family of nations. Our policy ensures that the security services are accorded the respect they earn through their service and also that they respect the citizens whom they serve. Our policy says the people of Zimbabwe must respect and not fear their soldiers and policemen; it says that the relationship between soldiers and policemen and the people, is like that of fish and water. The people are the water. This was true in the liberation struggle and it brought the success of independence and it should be true now and in the future. Our policies promote the idea of security services that are professional, unbiased and non-partisan in the service of the State.

I conclude by congratulating you all for the sterling work that has gone into this policy document; our ART of governance. This shows what a collective can achieve. We have argued; we have been critical and we have been rigorous. All this is very healthy for the party and the country. We are not like others who squirm at every criticism; no, we welcome constructive engagement. We are interested in moving the country forward through ideas and ART encapsulates our IDEA of government.

Now that you have deliberated and produced the ART of governance, I urge you to go out and spread the word. The oasis is in sight. Let us not tire at this point.

Should anybody ask you if the MDC has any policies tell them; YES, WE DO!

And indeed, WE DO!

We have the ART of governance!

And please, do not forget to tell them to go and register to vote.

Thank you.