- Maiden Parliamentary Speech
Sir, I stand before you and this house as a woman of Zimbabwe, a
child of Africa, I stand before you on the soil of my ancestors, filled with the
spirit of freedom, aware of the responsibilities of peace and with the energy to
remake and build a new, great Zimbabwe. I see it as my task, and those of the
people of Mutasa, the Movement for Democratic Change and every Zimbabwean to
heal and enrich our mother land....
I speak to you as a woman; a mother; a patriotic Zimbabwean and a person honoured with the trust and confidence of the people in her community sufficient to have been elected a member of this House.
This House where the people of Zimbabwe put their hopes, dreams and fears before us and ask us as their representatives to honestly and without fear consult, debate, discuss and find solutions to the problems that the people in the farms, villages, businesses, schools, hospitals and homes of our country face.
I speak to you as the mother of five children. Mr Speaker, I know that I share with all members of this House that my children grow up in a peaceful, prosperous Zimbabwe - I want my children to receive good schooling, I want them to remain free of AIDS which is killing 2 000 Zimbabweans every week, I want them to have good medical care, I want them to look at our flag with pride and a sense of commitment to our nation, I want them to find jobs when they leave school - jobs in this country, not South Africa or Botswana - here, this is where our young people belong.
I want our children to help build this nation into the greatest in Africa.
I consider myself privileged to address the honourable members of this house as the honestly elected MP for Mutasa, I say honestly because I did not have to resort to violence and intimidation in order to coerce the votes of my constituency.
Mr Speaker, the question of violence need to be addressed yet again. I feel I would not have done much justice to the people of Mutasa constituency, whom I represent, and Zimbabwe, if I do not raise this issue in this August house.
I would want to bring to your attention ladies and gentlemen that the reign of terror that was unleashed on Zimbabweans and the Honde Valley in particular which left 89 people homeless is not and will not be acceptable in an Independent Zimbabwe. People were subjected to physical and psychological torture in a liberated country. This really leaves a lot to be desired about our past and present government.
I therefore call upon all the members of the house to agree that the government and all perpetrators be held responsible for the damages and that the victims should be compensated - just as the government plans to compensate the War Veterans who's illegal homes were destroyed by the police recently...
The perpetrators must be brought to book if democracy is to be practised in this country, Sir, the lawlessness and anarchy which still prevails in our country allows certain Zimbabweans to feel that they are a special group of people, who think that they are above the law. They continue to intimidate and terrorise people even after the elections. As if what they did was not enough, only a few weeks ago the same culprits burnt three more houses in my constituency. What it means is that the darkest hour of Zimbabwe's history, prior to elections has turned out to be the darkest weeks after the elections. Therefore we the citizens of this country are faced with two options:-
1. To surrender to the threats, intimidation, murder and rape by ZANU PF, and allow the breakdown of law and order to continue to destroy our nation, or
2. Unite for democracy and freedom, and say "NO MORE' -
I, like thousands of Zimbabweans, was bitterly disappointed, when the President, in his address to the nation failed to call for the restoration of law and order in our country in order to stop the bloodshed and bleeding economy. I therefore call upon the President to acknowledge the wishes of the majority in this country and be determined to stop the beatings, rape, torture, farm invasions, burning and destruction of property as this will affect the people's morale and our economy.
We need not be a laughing stock of the whole world. Let us have properly organised and democratic land reform programmes and policies. In Shona we say "kumhanya handikusvika'. We will feel the awful consequences later if we rush to do things and by then it will be difficult to reverse. Consider the long-term problems of rushing the resettlement programme. Remember the infrastructure; this includes roads, clinics, schools, the resources; machinery, seeds, fertilizers all are needed for a kick-start, has the government put this in place?
I strongly believe that the farm invasions, lawlessness and anarchy that is prevailing in this country has nothing to do with the land issue or landless people, to be more precise, the land hungry people have been exploited by the government in order to stay in power. The people of Zimbabwe who supported the chimurenga war primarily because they wanted land have been forgotten and instead the land acquired by government was shared amongst themselves and ZANU PF cronies.
Not until after the humiliating defeat at the referendum did the government and ZANUPF realised they had lost the support of Zimbabweans, and hatched their diabolical plan to use disgruntled war veterans and unemployed ZANU PF supporters to terrorise and intimidate the voters.
I hasten to add that not all war vets are bad, indeed very few of them participated in the government-sponsored reign of terror. To substantiate my point I use the parliamentary results in Manicaland as an example, where the whole eastern strip of the province boarders on Mozambique, voters favoured MDC over ZANU PF. This is quite extraordinary considering that the majority of war veterans came from this area because of its close proximity to Mozambique where they were trained.
The people of this area feel very strongly about the land issue as many of their relatives sacrificed their lives in the chimurenga war because of their need for land, but despite their efforts they have been marginalized to an extent that very little or virtually no development has taken place in some areas,
The people of Mutasa, whom I represent expect that:-
1. The Government should be a servant of the people
2. The Government must listen to the people and not vice versa
3. The Government is for all the people of Zimbabwe.
4. The Governor of Manicaland should NOT be someone rejected in an election.
I say the government should be for all the people of Zimbabwe.
To take you back honourable speaker to recent events in Matebeleland where on Saturday 5th August Mr Obert Mpofu, the new Governor for Matebeleland North who came into this House through the back door was speaking at the official launch of the accelerated resettlement programme. It is a shame to note that Governor Mpofu stated in public, that there should be no land for MDC people, and it is due to this issue that I choose not to refer to him as an honourable member but merely Governor Mpofu. He clearly said that MDC supporters would not be resettled because they had shown no interest in the land by voting against the party in the June elections. He urged his ZANU PF members and war veterans to ensure that no MDC supporters were resettled in their Districts and I quote "I do no want to see any person from MDC on the list of people who will be settled. The MDC supporters should wait for their government to give them land". Surely honourable speaker this is proof that the accelerated resettlement programme is being politicised for personal gain by ZANU PF faithfulls and is already being used as a campaign tool for the Presidential elections.
One of the main reasons the AIDS pandemic is spreading so quickly is Poverty, the Fast Track Land resettlement Programme embarked on by the Government is also FAST TRACK to Poverty and is therefore Fast Tracking the Aids pandemic - are you and your government comfortable with that.
Honourable Speaker I therefore call upon all people of Zimbabwe to stop being tribalistic, racist etc, this should be swept under the carpet and urge all Zimbabweans to work together towards the social, political and economic development of this nation, only this will serve the poor and if not the majority of this country. The people of Manicaland and Mutasa in particular implore the Government to respect the rule of law and restore peace and order to our beloved Country.
The violence that transpired is NOT a figment of the imagination as the President may suggest, as I have been on the receiving end of the state sponsored violence I take exception to the presidents reference to the level of violence being insignificant and acceptable.
I have had my home burned to the ground and most of my worldly possessions and food granaries destroyed by fire, I have had petrol bombs thrown at me and my family, I have been beaten by thugs,
I have identified the perpetrators and made the necessary reports to the Police, who, as I speak have done little to bring the culprits to book. This is state sponsored violence.
Amongst all this I was arrested and held in custody for 2 days for allegedly kidnapping a War Veteran. Mr Speaker and Honourable Members of the House - do I look like someone who could kidnap one of the War Veterans who are holding 1500 farmers and the country to ransom?
This Mr Speaker is tantamount to Police harassment for political gain. We are aware as to who is behind this and he should be ashamed.
The honourable speaker, the ministry in which my party the MDC, considers me most suited is Gender, Youth and Culture where in the wisdom of the President he has chosen the Honourable Border Gezi as the Cabinet Minister. I suggest Mr Speaker that the Honourable President had another one of his lapses of sensibility when he made that choice as it is on record that the Minister in question "Madzibaba" who, as Governor, tolerated, abetted, incited and probably finances some of the worst violence against women and girls, and using unemployed youth as militia, is now minister of Youth, Gender and Employment creation -
Youth employment through Militia,
Gender by Gang Rape.
Mr Speaker there is a lot of misconception about this gender ministry, many tend to think that it is a ministry that deals with women's issues only.
Let me give a brief definition of this Ministry - Gender Ministry is a ministry that deals with or looks at equality between men and women. So even those men who feel that their issues are not well represented are free to bring them to me and I will endeavour to put these issue to this house for debate. One such example is the exorbitant amount of money paid by the bridegroom as lobola. I feel this should be reduced to a small token of appreciation and as a way of cementing the relationship between 2 families. This will be of advantage to women, as they will no longer be seen as property bought to be used and abused by men. The cementing of families will help to eliminate our promiscuous life style and halt the spread of AIDS.
It will be my duty to see that women come to realise their rights, to contribute to the development of this nation irrespective of their marital status, tribe and race.
It has been a trend in Zimbabwe that the people of this country think and believe that politics is only for the single woman and married women must be content to be mothers and housewives. I therefore would want to stand as a role model, to demonstrate that it is our right as women to participate in politics so as to influence policy making decisions which affect us as women. I therefore urge all women in Zimbabwe to realise their rights and take up the challenge in all sectors of life. In order for us the women of Zimbabwe to be heard let us speak with one voice. To you honourable gentlemen, I would say the time has come for you to cease exploiting and looking down on women, decision making is for us all.
Today I will concentrate more on women's issues because I feel women in Zimbabwe have been marginalized for a very long time, we need to wake up, unite and work for our rights and equality. I advocate equal opportunities in Parliament, work places, learning institutions etc.
Women empowerment, socially, economically and politically is what I will fight for in this August house. Gone are the days honourable members when women thought politics is a game to be played by men alone, economic hardships affect women as well, if not more than men.
It is a shame that Zimbabwe's parliament has fewer women MPs in this legislature. In the previous parliament 22 out of 150 MPs were women, after the controversial elections in June, there are only 14 women MPs.
What a set back for women, one would say, however personally I disagree with the arithmetic and with the sense of loss. It is not quantity but quality that matters. Let us look again at the numbers - since only 5 ZANU PF women were elected, ZANU PF's gender ratio plummeted. The opposition got seven women into parliament by the ballot, among them are human rights and grassroots activists of impressive credentials.
On his appointees his Excellency should have been gender sensitive by increasing the number of Women parliamentarians but not by taking those that were rejected by the people.
I believe women's agenda differ according to political persuasions. In Zimbabwe, the well-documented state sponsored violence that preceded the elections has drawn one clear dividing line among women in politics.
I hope that my colleagues and I on this side of the bench will be able to install a sense of stability and a sense of gender purpose on the other side, where it is noted that not one of those women, at any time, or at any place, denounced the violence and gang rape of their Zimbabwean sisters, yet they were entitled to and received UNDP money for campaigning.
I say shame on you for betraying your gender in search of power.
Gender involvement in politics must be for the whole country and ALL its people and not by patronising the President by wearing his picture on ones bosom and posterior.
School children are being abducted and sexually molested, the police stand by and do nothing, where is the cry foul from that side of the bench, where is the Red Card to the perpetrators and instigators from you women on that side of the bench.
Again I say shame on you for, by your very silence, condoning such terrible acts just so that you can stay in power.
As supposed leaders what you are doing by condoning such actions is tantamount to raping your own children - shame - zvinonyadza
Y O U T H
Our youth are the future leaders of this nation, therefore I expected the president in his speech at the opening of the 5th parliament to have shown serious concern about our youth. Over 65% of our educated youth are unemployed and furthermore our education system does not prepare them for future life. Many of them resort to begging, drink and drugs because they do not have the practical skills to earn a living.
The youth want proper jobs - being paid to intimidate, rape and plunder for Cheffs is not employment.
Jobs must come from development - development means investment - investment means a stable economy and law and order.
We have all of the ingredients for development except good governance.
Our people have been betrayed and we no longer have the ingredients for job creation.
Honourable "Madzibaba" Gezi it is your responsibility to come up with clearly defined youth policies that will empower our youth politically, economically and socially.
A piece of land carved out of a highly productive farm is not going to solve the problem. Development is not about prejudicing the future it is about creating a future.
The Fast Track resettlement programme is prejudicing the future of the youth of this country. There will be no winners in this diabolical scheme, history will show this and the President Robert Mugabe will be exposed as the betrayer and user of his people.
Those of you who support him for his political survival - shame on you because you are supporting the Fast Track to Poverty. Our objective should be to eliminate poverty not Fast Track Poverty.
To conclude on the subject of youth, I say, our country needs sound social and economic values to pass on as a legacy to our Zimbabwean youth.
Mutasa is the constituency that I represent. It is on the boarder with Mozambique and I am sure everyone here would agree with me that the people in my constituency supported the Chimurenga war more than any other constituency in Zimbabwe but to my surprise there is no development at all. The people in Mandeya part of the Honde Valley have been marginalised to the extent that they now believe ZANU PF government considers them to be Mozambicans.
They were used by ZANU PF in the chimurenga and have now been abandoned.
Most of the roads are in a very bad state. Tell me where has all the development money gone - propping up a dictatorship in the DRC and Swiss bank accounts.
There is a long list of roads and bridges requiring urgent attention and construction, the Honourable Minister Mombeshora this is your responsibility please ensure that the job gets done and your ministry is not brought into further disrepute.
Clinics and Hospitals
The health services in my constituency have deteriorated to unacceptable conditions. There are no medicines in all clinics.
There are 14 clinics and 3 hospitals in my constituency. We need more clinics and hospitals need upgrading.
Tsonzo Hospital was destroyed during the war but to my surprise, 20 years after independence there are many buildings which have not been re-roofed.
Honourable Dr Stamps this is your responsibility - what have you been doing all these years as an appointed member of this honourable house. Please make sure that hospitals are upgraded, adequately staffed with qualified Doctors and supplied with the medicines necessary. We tired of your excuse about no money or inadequate funds. We should not have to suffer because the tax-payers money is being wasted by the government. Zimbabweans deserve and need access to good health care
Hauna Hospital in the valley has been functioning with no doctor at all since 1998 forcing serious patients to travel all the way to Bonda Mission Hospital.
Buildings of most primary schools are dilapidated and neglected. 20 years after Independence most schools in my constituency still do not have telephones. The Honerable Minister responsible must see the importance of communication.
When schools have telephones, this will help both the school and the local community. Sometimes people in my constituency have difficulties in communication with their relatives when there is a death in the family.
More O'level secondary school are urgently needed as pupils walk more than 15km to the nearest secondary schools.
Mutasa is a very huge constituency but it has got only 2'A' level schools, where is the development - where are the pledges made 20 years ago.
The living conditions of the Rural teachers leaves a lot be desired and the ministry must do something about this state of affairs. Our future is in the youth and their education. How can we expect firsts class education from underpaid teachers housed in sub-standard accommodation who are under equipped and without modern teaching aids.
Mutasa constituency is blessed with rivers that flow throughout they year yet very little of this water is being put to use. Instead of the "Fast Track Land Programme" the government should have facilitated the irrigation schemes at Mutarazi, Manunure and many more.
Osborne dam should be seen to help local people but people in my constituency are having difficulties in obtaining fishing permits/licenses. Please can this be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Electrification; there has been very little development in this area..
Most business centers and schools have no electricity yet some areas like Gatsi, Murara and Sherukuru are not far from the source.
Electrification of Rural Schools would benefit local people as it will be possible to have adult education at night. Most houses in Hauna GP and DC Area have no electricity, this is the sort of development the people deserve - not the carving up of productive land to further ZANU PF political survival objectives.
Head tax - People in my constituency are not happy with the payment of head tax which has risen by more than 100% from $20 to $50 per head for every member of the family who is above 18 years old.
They vowed not to pay this money because they don't see its purpose since no development has ever taken place in their areas. They suspect a lot of corruption taking place at our local district council. I challenge the Honourable Minister of Local Government to investigate and report back to this house on the matter.
Also, $50 per head is too much for them, they cannot afford it due to economic hardships created by the governments mismanagement, poor governance and corruption.
People in my constituency are not happy with the appointment of Oppah Muchinguri as our governor. They want to know why the President nominated her yet she was vehemently and openly rejected by the people of Mutare North Constituency that she now represents. Oppah polled about 5000 votes against Major Giles Mutsekwa's 19000 votes. They want to know whether there were no other ZANU PF members of ladies that he could have nominated. Would she be very effective in representing the same people who rejected her. I ask where is the sanity in that. Where is the democracy.
Pre-election violence victims: I demand from the government to assist with the construction of houses that were destroyed in my constituency by ZANU PF supporters.
Thanks to all the Zimbabweans, NGO's, Churches who helped with food temporary shelter and clothing for the displaced persons and not forgetting the Newspapers who published the truth.
Tax payers' money: May I make an appeal to you Mr. Speaker to warn the honourables who are often absent from this house, those who come only for 10-15 minutes and then disappear , those that spend half the time in this house dozing, May they be reminded that they are wasting the tax payer's money.
To close, because I speak for the majority of the people and the future of the women, young girls and boys who rely on our honesty and integrity, we can assure the Honourable Minister of Gender Youth and Employment Creation "Madzibaba "also known as "the dancer' that we will not be intimidated and that we will be watching your every step to ensure the development of the nation for the future of our youth no matter how fancy your foot work!!!!
A Father who betrays his children is no longer worthy of being a Father
A Father who has his children raped and beaten is no longer worthy of being a Father
A Father who will not listen to the cries of his children is no longer a Father
The man once called the Father of the Nation, Robert Mugabe, is no longer listening to the nation. I request that his Excellency the President retire from office with dignity and allow space for a leader who will listen to the people and lead this country out of economic and agricultural disaster free from corruption and state sponsored violence.
The Honourable Evelyn Masaiti
Wednesday, 30 August 2000