Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Morgan Tsvangirai’s epic speech on epic day
Memory is a site of the struggle. Only in the rubric of yester-year memories can we trace where we have come from so that we use the lessons of the past to forge and sharpen future struggles on the anvil of a history that has been seriously reflected upon.
Exactly 14 years ago to the day, political leaders in Zimbabwe who had tenaciously rivalled for almost a decade turned the proverbial swords into plough shares in what became known as the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which poised our country for peace, growth and development.
Superintended by the regional body SADC in the aftermath of a contested election in which Mr Robert Mugabe had famously lost to his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai before engaging in retributive violence on a hapless electorate in a contrived bloody run-off poll, the GPA became a historic backdrop to the consummation of an inclusive government that was to give respite to a despondent nation.
Today, especially to those of us who were his trusted lieutenants, all we can do is reminisce about this iconic patriot called Morgan Tsvangirai who won the 29 March 2008 Presidential election but still had the grace and humility to agree to serve in the junior position of Prime Minister for the sake of national peace and development.
The inclusive government borne out of the GPA not only provided respite to a despondent nation. The inclusive architecture also showed Morgan Tsvangirai and the combined MDC’s competent hand on the wheel of government.
To date, the song ” Dollar for two Yakauya naTsvangirai” remains a lyrical tribute to the days of plenty and stability that many Zimbabweans still remember with fondness.
Today, in his honour and in marking this historic day in Zimbabwe’s political story, I republish Dr Morgan Tsvangirai’s epic speech on that epic day; a speech whose lines remain immortalised in the epic realm of cyberspace.
On 15 September 2015, Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara shook hands, signed a historical agreement and pledged to work for the betterment of their country and its citizens.
As he said that day in a famous speech that was widely quoted worldwide, Morgan Tsvangirai told the world that the hand with which he was signing the historic agreement was the same hand he was extending to Mr Robert Mugabe to let by-gones be by-gones and concentrate on the urgent business of prudently serving the people of Zimbabwe. It was a great speech tinged by quotable lines that charmed many a soul both in the country and beyond.
In his epic speech, Dr Tsvangirai said he had signed the GPA because it presented the best opportunity to build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe. He said he had signed the agreement because his belief in Zimbabwe and its people was deeper than the scars from the past struggles. He said he had signed the agreement because his hope for the future was stronger than the grief of the past.
In honour of a famous patriot that I had the privilege to serve and in remembrance of a notable day in the history of the country, I hereby republish Morgan Tsvangirai’s epic speech.
Dear reader, as we stand on the cusp of a watershed election that might take place in the absence of the implementation of the requisite reforms, September the 15th is a historic day that reminds us that negotiation and compromise are possible.
This time not compromise and negotiation for the formation of yet another inclusive government but negotiations to implement a raft of reforms that will break Zimbabwe’s vicious cycle of disputed elections that has stalled stability, development and progress in Zimbabwe particularly n the last 22 years.
Dear reader, as you read this epic speech by Morgan Tsvangirai, kindly reflect on the great opportunity we have for the country’s political players to negotiate and agree on what we in the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have dubbed PREPARE, or simply the Pre-Election Pact for Reforms.
We have unlocked a new door — Tsvangirai
Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, President Mugabe, Professor Mutambara, Mr. Speaker of Parliament,
Madam President of the Senate,
Senators and Parliamentarians, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Today, I want to thank all those whose tireless work has brought us to the signing of this agreement.
I salute President Thabo Mbeki, facilitator of the negotiations, for his efforts to find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis that is acceptable to all parties.
I applaud the role played by SADC in working with all parties involved to resolve this crisis. I would like to pay particular tribute to the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who worked tirelessly towards this agreement and it will serve as an enduring part of his legacy.
I thank Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania and Chairman of the African Union, and Jean Ping, Chairman of the Commission of the Africa Union for understanding how important resolving the Zimbabwe crisis was to our entire continent.
I recognize United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who acknowledged that the world cannot stand idle while a member nation slides into famine and chaos.
I thank the democratically elected Members of Parliament—all of them, Zanu-PF, members of the MDC and the independent parliamentarian. Already you have shown a willingness to work across party lines to get things done. You are a model for the executive branch created out of today’s agreement to follow.
Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to thank the people of Zimbabwe, for adhering to the principles of peaceful, democratic change and for not wavering from these principles even in the face of hardship. I salute you.
Our nation looks towards us, the leadership, to deliver on the commitments contained in this agreement. We had two options: To put aside our differences and unite in order our people real hope, or continue to let the impasse plunge our country in to the abyss of a failed state.
People may ask how we, who have been opponents for so long, can possibly work together in government. On this I ask all Zimbabweans to hear these words.
I have signed this agreement because I believe it represents the best opportunity for us to build a peaceful, prosperous, democratic Zimbabwe. I have signed this agreement because my belief in Zimbabwe and its peoples runs deeper than the scars I bear from the struggle. I have signed this agreement because my hope for the future is stronger than the grief I feel for the needless suffering of the past years.
Today, every one of us has a decision to make. Shall we be driven by the feelings we have towards those we blame for the suffering we have endured, or shall we be driven by the hope of a new, better, brighter country. The hope of a new beginning.
The world has too many examples of what happens when people are driven by past wrongs rather than the hope of future glories.
I have chosen to be guided by hope and if you join me in this, we will not fail to witness the rebirth of our nation.
This does not mean we must forget about the past decades of hardship and struggles. It is essential that we remember the sacrifices made by our comrades, colleagues, families and friends, from the time of our liberation struggle until today, that have made this historic opportunity possible. Only through a public acknowledgement of past wrongs can we begin the process of national healing.
Looking back provides me with the energy to move forward. Looking back, I am filled with enormous pride over the way we Zimbabweans have conducted ourselves. We deserve to stand tall and be proud of what we have achieved and be excited about what we can now achieve.
The agreement we sign to day is a product of painful compromise. It does not provide an instant cure for the ills that pervade our society and our country. The road ahead is long and will not be easy.
Indeed, the partners in this new, inclusive government cannot alone provide the solutions to the problems facing the country. All we can do, and we will do, is to work together to establish the environment where every Zimbabwean has the opportunity to contribute to solving the problems we face.
This agreement sees the return of hope to all our lives. We have been motivated in our struggle by the belief that we deserve democracy, that we deserve a better life, that we deserve to live free from fear, hunger, poverty and oppression.
It is this hope that provides the foundation of this agreement that we sign today. It is this hope that will provide us with the belief that we can achieve a New Zimbabwe. It is this hope that will provide us with the energy to build a New Zimbabwe. It is this hope that must unite all Zimbabweans as we move forward.
But hope alone will not deliver our New Zimbabwe. In this we all have an essential role to play. In this new struggle for a new beginning, we will require the support, perseverance and patience of the people.
In turn, I pledge that this new inclusive government will introduce a new way of governing, where we serve the people and respond to the needs of the people. I acknowledge the debt that we owe to the courage and support of the people and I commit myself and this new, inclusive government to honor that debt.
As Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, I call on the supporters of both ZANU-PF and the MDC to unite with all Zimbabweans, to put the interests of our nation and our people first and to work together for a New Zimbabwe. Divisions, polarization and hatred belong to the past.
With the commitment of this new government to build a better country, with the commitment of all Zimbabweans to work together for a brighter future our success is guaranteed.
However, a new beginning will be built more quickly with support from the international community. We are grateful for the support you have shown us over the past nine years and we appeal to our regional neighbors, our African brothers and sisters and the international community, to assist us in rebuilding our nation. To assist us to address the problems facing our society, our education and health care systems and our economy.
As a sovereign, peaceful state we ask that you work with us to return Zimbabwe to its rightful place as a proud, democratic, prosperous member of the family of nations.
The agreement we are signing today creates a transitional authority that will govern Zimbabwe until a new democratic constitution can be put in place and genuinely free and fair elections can be held. We do not today set a date for those future elections. But we must not use the current crisis, desperate as it is, to delay the lasting solution to our underlying problem.
This negotiated settlement can only be a temporary measure, a candle in a dark dungeon that enables our people to see the way forward to the bright sunshine of freedom and prosperity.
ZANU-PF and MDC are brands rich with meaning and proud history. ZANU-PF is the party of our national liberation; the party of the creation of the modern Zimbabwe; the mother party of many liberation movements across the whole continent of Africa.
The MDC is a people’s party. Born from a people’s convention, drawing people from all walks of life, but representing those for whom life every day is a struggle; and who look for something better for their future, and their children’s future.
For too long we have allowed the differences between these two parties to divide us, to the detriment of our nation, rather than unite us, for the betterment of our nation.
Party divisions and party brands no longer matter to the people of Zimbabwe. We must all unite to solve to the problems facing the nation.
Our new Government recognizes the hardships faced by the people today and addressing these will be our main priority.
First we will stop the devastating food shortages.
The policies of the past years have made Zimbabwe a nation where the healthy flee and the sickly die.
Warmhearted and generous people from around the globe have come to Zimbabwe to bring food to our starving people—And they found our door was locked.
The first priority of the government is to unlock the food already in our country and distribute it to our people. We need doctors and medicines back in our hospitals; teachers back in our schools. We need businesses that can grow and provide jobs to the people. We need electricity again to power our businesses and homes. We need water that is safe and accessible. We need affordable food in our shops, crops in our fields, and petrol back in our vehicles. We need to be able to access our own cash from our banks.
We need to stabilize our economy and restore value to our currency.
Peace and safety must be restored to our communities. Our State institutions must serve the needs of all the people, not just Zanu PF or the MDC.
Under my leadership, this unity government will let business flourish so our people can work and provide for their families with pride.
With the signing of this deal the door to freedom and democracy has been unlocked. The transformation of our lives begins now. How quickly and how successfully that happens will depend on the commitment of every Zimbabwean as an agent for positive change.
The hand with which I sign this agreement is the hand I extend to President Robert Mugabe – for the well-being of our nation – in my pledge to work with all the leaders of Zimbabwe to bring our nation back to life. Let us not be divided by our past, but united by our hope for the future.
And so, In the sight of the world, with the hopes of our people, praying for the wisdom from almighty God, I sign this agreement and enter a new government and a way forward to new era of prosperity and democracy for all Zimbabweans.
Luke Tamborinyoka , a journalist and political scientist by profession , is a citizen from Domboshava and a change champion in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ).