HARARE – Fellow Zimbabweans, on this day we have a historic opportunity to define and decide our destiny; to be the authors of our future.
At least once in a generation, a nation goes through a single defining moment.
The 1980 generation faced an election they were called upon to make a choice between minority colonial rule and majority rule.
On that occasion, the people of Zimbabwe discharged their generational duty by rightly choosing independence and majority rule. This was an indelible mark in the history of this nation.
Today, this generation faces an election of a similar character.
The people of Zimbabwe face two choices; to vote for an old, tried and failed system or to choose a new, forward-looking system backed by a bankable plan.
This generation is faced with a choice between voting for repression or pursuing the path of liberty; a choice between yesterday’s people with only a rear-view vision and today’s leaders with a forward-looking vision; indeed, a choice between light and darkness.
You have to decide between economic revival and economic retrogression.
You all know the severe hardships that we faced in 2008, when supermarkets shelves were virtually empty and fuel queues were the order of the day.
You surely remember the time when this country’s economy had collapsed to the extent that we were all living from hand to mouth.
We were surviving like wild animals, competing with them for wild fruit. You remember that our currency had become so worthless that we were all very poor billionaires.
I am sure no one wants to return to that desperate situation. No one even wants to hear of the return of the notorious Zim Dollar, with which Zanu PF are currently threatening the people of Zimbabwe.
We formed the Inclusive Government to save the people of Zimbabwe from the precipice.
We could have chosen to stay out but we put you, the people, first. Our record in government over the four years is very clear.
We introduced the Government Work Programme under which the economy has been stabilised, peace has reigned and social services delivery has been restored — our hospitals and clinics are functioning again and teachers are back at our schools.
At primary school level, every pupil now has a textbook.
All this work was done under my supervision — a foretaste of what I can deliver with an exclusive mandate.
Under the same government we drove the Constitution-making process and produced a new Constitution for this country.
But that document will not be worth the paper it is written on if it is entrusted on people who never wanted it in the first place.
You remember that Zanu PF vehemently opposed the new Constitution.
The process almost broke down due to their resistance.
But we stood firm and produced a document that I am sure future generations will cherish.
A Government under my leadership will protect and defend this Constitution.
I will make sure that the spirit of constitutionalism reigns supreme and that this country will be run in accordance with the Rule of Law.
No more selective application of the law; no more laws that infringe upon people’s fundamental freedoms; indeed, no more impunity.
Our programme once in government is very clear. We want to make this country great again.
We will focus on creating jobs to deal with the great scourge of unemployment that afflicts our country.
Our plans are outlined in our Agenda for Real Transformation (ART) and JUICE policy documents which we launched this year.
We are the only party in this election that was bold enough to hold a national policy conference at which our ideas for this country were debated, scrutinised and adopted.
With millions of people unemployed, we know that the biggest priority for many is securing a job and earning a decent income.
We pledge to deliver on our jobs promise. Give us a chance and you will see what we can do.
I want to end my message with some reassurance to all Zimbabweans — under an MDC government, there will be no losers — there is a place for everyone in a new Zimbabwe.
We may differ with our political opponents but we have respect for everyone.
Once we begin our tenure, we will embark on a programme to promote peace, reconciliation and inclusiveness. There will be no victimisation; indeed, no retribution.
I said on Monday at the Cross Over Rally in Harare that I am a survivor.
I was beaten up and treated like a common criminal. But I am not bitter. And I refuse to be a victim.
I have reflected upon everything that has happened to me and I have forgiven my tormentors.
Indeed, I have prayed for them and asked God to forgive them. I did this to escape the prison of bitterness and revenge.
I wanted to be free. I urge you too, fellow Zimbabweans, to break the chains of bitterness and walk with me; hand in hand with our erstwhile adversaries to re-build Zimbabwe.
I am a builder, not a destroyer. Our freedom will never be complete unless we cast away the shackles of bitterness.
Today, the system may be painfully slow. It may try to frustrate and break you down.
I urge you, fellow Zimbabweans, to remain calm. Be strong and resilient. Salvation and the future of this country lie in your hands.
Remain resolute until you cast your ballot. And if you are reading this at home or somewhere away from the polling station, please, for the sake of your future and the future of your children, please spare a moment or even a few hours and go out and vote.
Be an author of history because today, history will be written at the ballot box.
Thank You and God Bless Zimbabwe.
*Tsvangirai is the president of the MDC and a presidential candidate in the 2013 elections.