|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
21 January 2003
Honourable Members of Parliament, senior MDC officials, party supporters, ladies and gentlemen
I feel greatly honoured for the invitation to address this meeting. For the past three years, our once beautiful nation has been subjected to untold suffering and the denial of peopleís democratic rights.
We have watched our standard of living collapse. Basic goods and commodities are expensive and in short supply. We cannot feed our immediate families in a nation known for its traditional generosity and culture of caring for extended families.
Our relatives in the rural areas are starving because of the shortage and denial of food. Our children, brothers and sisters are unemployed because industry has collapsed. Every Zimbabwean family has watched its loved ones die because of the collapse of the health services. The list is endless. We face common problems in these difficult and trying times.
I salute the 260
priests, deacons, sisters and brothers of the archdiocese
of Bulawayo who, only last week, came out in the open and said:
"There is no place for neutrality in the face of the evil which is destroying our nation. Time has run out for compromise with an evil regime. Attempts to use personal influence and persuasion have only allowed a corrupt system to consolidate its power."
I want to salute the Mayors of Harare and Chegutu, our Members of Parliament, ordinary villagers and party supporters who have to face the increasing brutality perpetrated by a regime that claims to be doing so in their name and as part of their sovereign will.
I want to salute millions of workers and peasants who have to withstand the daily humiliation of queuing for whatever little supplies that trickle out of the Mugabe regimeís corruption chain and finally lands in the supermarkets.
Even The Herald, a newspaper you all know has been abused to a ridiculous level, had to report that in Zvimba, Robert Mugabeís rural home, villagers are receiving only 10 percent of their normal staple food requirements. If that can happen there, please try to imagine what the situation could be like in areas where the opposition commands the majority support.
Against this background, I stand before you with the uncomfortable comfort of addressing our once esteemed, but fast-shrinking middle class. The middle class in this country has tended to watch unfolding scenes from the fence.
It reminds me of a story I heard sometime ago. Ten prisoners at a certain prison decided to go a hunger strike. After the first day, two of their number decided to dropout. Many followed suit, leaving only one person in action.
Later that day, those who opted out could be heard shouting to their colleague to soldier on, saying they were solidly behind him.
Fear can be a serious problem. The simplest way to overcome it is through collective risk. We derive comfort in numbers.
The sooner our middle class joins the oppressed in the quest for basic freedoms, in the reclamation of our sovereign voice, the better for the nation.
We need to act in various capacities for national survival. When factories collapse we are all affected. When there is no fuel, we all suffer.
When cotton wool, a basic commodity every woman needs is not available, we all suffer. When businesses are isolated from the international community, when Zimbabwe faces expulsion from the IMF, when bilateral aid ceases, when government corruption becomes the new mode of doing business, surely we all suffer.
Some members of your community, either as managers or business people have actively supported this regime in its incessant quest to destroy units of business perceived as not supportive of the regime. Ordinary criminals have benefited from these sinister arrangements and now call themselves successful business people.
These games will never get us anywhere as long as the fundamentals that led to the formation of our party, the MDC, are not addressed. These games will never succeed as long as what happened in March last year is not rectified.
Mugabe may enjoy the abuse of the state machinery and pretend to have the power in his hands, but as long as the issue of legitimacy is unresolved, Mugabe shall rue the day he decided to steal the voice of the people.
We stand here to make a fervent appeal to you, a dying middle class, to re-examine what has hit your lifestyles. Our ultimate objective is to see you at the forefront of this struggle, joining hands with fellow Zimbabweans in confronting this ruinous dictatorship.
There is no tomorrow as long as this corrupt regime maintains its stranglehold on the country. In a few months time, the entire country will have been reduced to one big flea market.
It does not make sense for any of you to standby idly and watch what you have so painstakingly put together crumble to dust because of the actions of one man.
While the rest of the world is now trying out electronic commerce, or e-commerce as they say, we are sliding backwards to the black market. Mugabe even has a government minister responsible for that sector whose job is to facilitate selective benefits to those who are politically connected to ZANU PF.
It is both in the national interest and in your self-interest for you to be part of the process of change. Our party structures in middle class areas are shunned because they are run by your workers. It is high time you join hands with them. Collectively, we can strengthen our capacity to unseat this regime.
Let me say that the situation here is moving so fast, events are unfolding at a rocketing pace. If we donít do anything about the Zimbabwean situation, a solution could be imposed for us from outside our borders.
Zimbabwe is a rich country made poor by bad governance. No amount of cosmetic surgery and fiddling with the so-called public image of the Zanu PF regime can provide the solutions required.
As the president of the MDC, I am personally determined to lead the nation in correcting these ills.
Will I see all of you behind my back on this mission, urging me to carry on, alone?
Are you ready to join the millions of others, across colour, race, social station and status who are already on the frontline of this deadly struggle for freedom and prosperity?