MUTARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday said his promise in the first 100 days of his government was to restore the collapsed system of governance and the liberation dream for freedom.
“We don’t want power for power’s sake,” Tsvangirai told tens of thousands who packed Sakubva Stadium in Mutare.
“We want to lead this country to change with a viable plan. Our first promise is to change the culture of governance in this country. We want a country that has a free people. But that freedom cannot come if people are living in fear, violence and always checking their backs on who is behind them.”
Tsvangirai doffed his hat to liberation war heroes from Mutare, saying he was actualising their dream for a free Zimbabwe that he said had been stolen by 33 years of misrule by President Robert Mugabe’s party, which his MDC squares off with in a crunch poll on July 31.
“I want to thank you Manicaland for providing heroes such as (Herbert Wiltshire) Chitepo, Ndabaningi (Sithole), Edson Sithole, Chief Tangwena and his wife and many other heroes who sacrificed so that we can build a Zimbabwe where democracy flourishes,” Tsvangirai said.
“We are here to revitalise that dream.
“Manicaland never abandoned the noble fight for democracy because you have always known that independence without freedoms is useless. This is the reason you have supported the MDC since its formation. Manicaland has never strayed from the cause. We are already there.”
He added: “We don’t want to be stuck in history. Hondo yakapera (the war is over), we now need progress. We cannot live in the past, it shows a lack of vision. We are part of the global village, as such, we ought to respect Sadc and the UN.”
The MDC leader said the forthcoming election was a choice between a bleak future and hope saying the MDC’s only objective was to give Zimbabweans a “breathing space.”
“It may be hard, but I am thankful that we are all committed to cross the Red Sea until victory is assured,” he said.
Reacting to insults hurled by Mugabe’s wife Grace, who called him loose and ugly, Tsvangirai said he did not want to exchange vitriol with Mugabe.
“I do not tolerate people who speak the language of hate, provocation, of violence,” Tsvangirai said.
“Today’s enemy is no longer yesterday’s enemy. Today’s enemy is poverty, starvation, underdevelopment. Let us not look at personalities, but let us look at facts of what is on the ground,” he said.
“The issue is not about bad mouthing but it is all about ensuring the country gets back to where it was. We have passed an era where we talk of personalities. We are past that. We need as a nation to focus on issues that affect our people on a daily basis.”
Meanwhile, Simba Makoni, who recently entered into a Grand Coalition with Tsvangirai to end Mugabe’s rule, said he learned many lessons from the 2008 vote, where he garnered 8 percent of the vote.
The ex-Zanu PF politburo member said there was need to destroy the fear factor which he alleged has been instilled in people by Mugabe and Zanu PF. He said even Mugabe was living in fear.
He said his pact with Tsvangirai was meant to redeem Mugabe and every Zimbabwean of fear.
Makoni said the pact was a commitment to ensuring that Zimbabwe ends hunger.
Zimbabweans were able to feed themselves but expressed regret that with fertile lands, the country was begging neighbouring countries for food aid.
He bemoaned de-industrialisation in Mutare, saying Border Timbers, Ford Assembly, and all the companies that used to employ people had closed shop.
University graduates could not get jobs, he said, and ended up selling airtime on the streets.
“Yes, there are some who should sell airtime, but should one get a degree so that they sell airtime?” he asked.
He said the door was still open for more players to join the coalition so that they field one candidate to stand against Mugabe.
“So we are united so that we may have upliftment of every person,” he said.
He added that they were united to build a nation with servant leadership to end the humiliation faced by the country arising from violence, arson and intimidation.
“We are still open for others to join us so that we end poverty, hunger and create employment, end fear and unite Zimbabwe as a nation,” Makoni said.
“That is why we are calling on people to come together in support of the great vision of a better Zimbabwe”.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti highlighted the MDC’s record in the inclusive government, stressing achievements in the energy sector, ICT development, road infrastructure, and delivering 13 million books in schools.
He also noted the dire conditions prior to the GNU.
Biti said the upcoming election will be a defining period and must be a victory over corruption, underdevelopment, starvation and hunger.
He recounted how thousands died from cholera, schools closed down and hospitals where dysfunctional.
He said if Tsvangirai could transform the country within the GNU setup, what more when he is in full control of government.
“Let’s give president Tsvangirai the keys to this country, let’s all go and vote on 31 July for more,” Biti said.