Address by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, The Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai, to the Ministerial Retreat, Victoria Falls, April 3rd 2009
Your Excellency, President Mugabe, Vice President Mujuru, Deputy Prime Minister Khupe, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Invited Guests;
There is no other group of people in Zimbabwe today upon whom the success of the Global Political Agreement rests as heavily as it does on our shoulders. We who are gathered here today, hold the future of our nation in our hands. Our actions over the next months will dictate whether Zimbabwe grows and prospers or resumes its economic and social decline.
This is why we have convened this gathering and I would like to thank you all for taking the time to participate in this process. I would also like to thank the World Bank for supporting this meeting and to our facilitators who have embraced the exciting challenge ahead of them. Finally, I would like to thank the staff of the World Bank and those personnel my office and the President’s office, who have worked tirelessly on the logistics and agenda for the coming days.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, in signing the Global Political Agreement we have committed ourselves to a framework within which we can learn to work together for the betterment of our nation and the betterment of our people. If we stand by the letter and spirit of this agreement we cannot fail to take our nation forward to a more prosperous future.
Working together may not seem natural after so many years on opposite sides of the political divide, but there can be no viable alternative as our paths and our futures are now united by the GPA. To try and frustrate its implementation or negate the benefits it can bring will plunge our nation into another round of conflict, decay and despair.
Therefore, we must accept that we are now in a transformative stage with all the pains and challenges it presents. This inclusive government can only work if it is indeed inclusive. Thus, the Parties that are the signatories to this agreement must work as a true coalition. Each must bring its own positive attributes to this government and recognise and reject the negative tendencies of old.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, it would be unrealistic to expect us to enter this inclusive government without bringing with us some of that negative baggage we carry from the past. We cannot hope to work together if we do not learn to understand each other and if we do not create common goals that we can strive towards. This is the primary focus of this weekend’s gathering.
I know that this administration is limited by both time and resources, but we felt that it was essential that we use some of these this weekend to create that common understanding which will serve as the foundation on which we can build this inclusive government and build our service delivery to the people.
On a practical level, our objective this weekend is to obtain a commonality of interests amongst all Ministers and Heads of Ministries as to the key issues on which we need to focus in order to successfully implement both the GPA and the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme.
The majority of the commitments and objectives in both of these documents require activities that cut across various ministries and thus we must understand these relationships in order to successfully implement them.
In this, each ministry must understand fully their role in the implementation of the GPA and STERP, such that each can play their part positively in this team that we are building.
By the end of this weekend, as Government, we will have agreed on the common objectives of this administration and we will have developed a concrete plan for the coming 100 days to ensure timely and efficient implementation. These objectives will be directed at creating the Zimbabwe that we want and that the people of Zimbabwe deserve.
Each Ministry will identify its own outputs in line with these objectives and will present a clear understanding of the internal and external resources available to it and those that are needed to be sourced externally in the form of funding and technical skills. From the work of the individual ministries, a composite document of action plans will be developed to guide us in the implementation of the GPA and STERP.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, I know that you are all now familiar with the specific content of the GPA and the commitments that we have signed up to. Within that agreement are 55 actionable items.
That is, 55 defined steps that cut across ministries that we must take to implement the GPA. These are neither optional nor negotiable, as they form an integral part of the agreement to which we are all committed.
Similarly, the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme has also been analysed in order to identify the specific action steps that must be taken by us in order to rescue our economy and send us on the road to economic growth and prosperity.
While the content and commitments contained in both the GPA and STERP may be different, the success of one is linked to the other.
From your knowledge of the GPA you will see that much of it focuses on building upon and promoting the people’s freedoms, otherwise known as human rights.
I realize that to some people, the term human rights may have foreign connotations, so let us deal with this openly and transparently, for only if we agree on the interpretation of the GPA can we hope to agree on its implementation.
Human rights are neither culturally specific nor are they to be imposed upon one society by another. As Zimbabweans and signatories to this agreement, it is we who defined the rights that we must concentrate on in this transitional phase. As part of this process, the people of Zimbabwe will themselves have the opportunity, through the constitutional development process, to define the rights they themselves wish to be protected and bound by.
These political and civil rights serve not only as guarantees of the people’s freedoms but as the essential foundation of the nation’s economic development. Therefore, if we as leaders are committed to economic growth and development, we must in turn be committed to entrenching and upholding political and civil rights.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, our new government is now just over six weeks old, allowing us the opportunity to reflect on progress and impediments in order that we can accentuate the former and eliminate the latter.
I continue to be encouraged by the spirit of cooperation that has grown amongst the majority of our ministers. In fact, it is safe to say that the vast majority of ministers, Members of Parliament and civil servants are committed to seeing this agreement work. As both President Mugabe and I have stated, this agreement is not perfect but it is workable.
Proof of this lies in our incremental achievements to date. Together, we have overseen the opening of hospitals and schools, the taming of hyperinflation, the lowering of prices of basic commodities and the rationalisation of utility tariffs. We have started paying civil servants a monthly allowance to allow the public sector to begin working again and to provide an essential stimulus to the economy.
Most importantly, this new political dispensation has delivered hope to a country devoid of optimism and expectation.
However, if we are to move forward with the speed that the people demand and deserve, we must acknowledge and address some of the elements that are obstructing the full implementation of the GPA.
There are still outstanding issues that should have been resolved at the formation of this government. As defined by both the GPA and the Constitution of Zimbabwe, these issues must be resolved by the Leadership of Government, which comprises the President and Vice Presidents, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers.
This body will meet in the coming week to address the outstanding issues which include, but are not limited to, the swearing in of the Provincial Governors, the appointment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Attorney General, the appointment of Permanent Secretaries and Ambassadors and the ongoing land disputes and disruption of agricultural activities.
The clarity of the GPA and the Constitution mean that if we abide by their letter and spirit, these issues can be resolved immediately. In doing so, we will prove to the international community that we are genuine and serious about restoring Zimbabwe to its rightful place in the family of nations.
Once we embrace this need for mutual cooperation to drive our nation forward, we can then concentrate on the business of Government, delivering services to the people and driving the legislative agenda.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, this historic meeting will enable us to reach consensus on our implementation agenda and will assist in removing what barriers remain between us. In turn, this will enable us to move away from a culture of competing efforts and towards a culture of complimentary efforts for the benefit of our nation.
Only by doing this will we be able to deliver to the people. A government that does not deliver has no legitimacy and a limited life-span. The urgency around delivery is plain for all to see.
Although we have had some positive impact in the short life of this new inclusive government, this is only a fraction of what needs to be achieved.
The priorities of this government remain democratisation, stabilisation and addressing the humanitarian crisis that afflicts our people.
We still have a long way to go in rebuilding our health and education systems which will require significant capital investment if we are to meet our obligations to the people. Similarly, all our major utilities have been operating below economic viability for too long and rehabilitating them will be costly, as will be getting our agricultural sector productive once more.
Indeed the workload that faces each of us in restoring Zimbabwe to its economic prime is daunting. Hence, the importance of this gathering to provide us with the opportunity to meet, to discuss the problems we face, to agree on solutions to those problems and to develop the plan through which we can implement those solutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the enormous challenges we face in rebuilding and developing our nation, combined with the fact that our revenue base is exhausted, means that we need international support to achieve these goals.
We are grateful for the recent commitments by the donor community to continue assisting the state in dealing with the ongoing humanitarian crisis, but we also need them to engage with us on our economic recovery programme.
This is a reality, as is the fact that the donor countries and multi-lateral institutions are looking at the restoration of the rule of law as the key benchmark that must be achieved before they will fully engage with this inclusive government.
In addition, while this government understands the need for the removal of restrictive measures that have been applied to individuals, success in this area is also tied to the restoration of the rule of law.
This means that the police must be empowered to protect those protected by the law, to enforce all court orders and that the courts must process cases brought before them timeously and impartially.
These are measures that can and must be implemented immediately.
The other key benchmark that will inspire confidence, not just amongst donors but amongst Zimbabweans as a whole, is evidence that all the Parties are adhering to the GPA. This entails clear evidence that we are bound and guided by the GPA and that there is no faction-driven, parallel process that serves to perpetuate the culture of entitlement and impunity.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, in this, the GPA is very clear regarding the hierarchical nature of the inclusive government and the process that must be followed by all the parties. In this new Transitional Inclusive Government, executive authority rests with the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
We must acknowledge that the GPA and Constitution of Zimbabwe are now our sole sources of legitimacy and we must act accordingly. The President cannot run Government without the Prime Minister and vice versa - and neither can operate without Cabinet.
Each one of us in government now derives legitimacy and responsibility from the GPA and it is this document that must guide us regardless of party politics or ideology.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, as I stated earlier, the GPA is workable. It provides us with the framework within which we can work together to understand each other, to understand the challenges that lie before us and to develop solutions to those challenges.
In conclusion, let me acknowledge the benefits that I have derived from engaging with members of our cabinet. In particular I would like to refer to a conversation with Minister Muchena who acquainted me with the four stages of coalition building, namely:
Norming; where cooperation and working together become the accepted practise of government.
I would like to ask President Mugabe and everyone else here today at what stage of the coalition process we are as individuals and I appeal to you all, that by the end of this weekend we have resolved to be in the performing stage – at the very least.
Thus, I call upon all of you here today, whether you are from ZANU PF, MDC-T or MDC-M to put aside your political differences and to unite for the sake of this Government and our nation.
We all stand to benefit from restoring Zimbabwe to its proud regional position as a beacon for economic development, political tolerance and social cohesion. We all stand to benefit from finding ways to work together for the good of the nation. We all stand to benefit from striving to deliver to all Zimbabweans the economy they need, the services they deserve and the freedoms they demand.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask that you join with me in rising to the challenges before us, in putting aside past differences, in fostering a spirit of mutual cooperation and understanding, and in building a team to lead Zimbabwe forward.
I thank you.