From: MDC
"Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2006 4:11 PM"
Subject: Presidential Acceptance speech - A Mutambara

Arthur G.O. Mutambara

Presidential Acceptance Speech

26th February 2006; Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests, and the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, it is with a heavy heart that I accept the presidency of our great democratic movement. This is because there are many of our soldiers and fighters in this struggle who are not here today. We are not the only democratic force in the country.

Morgan Tsvangirai deserves a place of honour in the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe. He is a Zimbabwean hero.

All the democratic forces in Zimbabwe need to engage each other. We need to unite. A reunification framework and strategy must be established immediately.

Here is my personal pledge for unity:

If as part of the reunification framework, a new leadership has to be elected, I am prepared to step down as President of this great party, and allow for fresh elections. However, to demonstrate the seriousness and respect with which I take the responsibility and honour that you have bestowed upon me today, I will be prepared to contest against anybody who is nominated to stand for the presidency of the new united political formation. If I lose in such an election I will submit to the will of the people, and work vigorously under the new leadership.

So, what is the news headline tomorrow my friends in the media? Mutambara becomes the President of the Pro-Senate MDC faction. Are you sure about that description? How many of you here actually know my position on that divisive Senate debate in October 2005. Yes I had views, very strong ones indeed. My position was that the MDC should have boycotted those Senate elections. Not only that, I was for the total withdrawal from Parliament and all the other election based institutions. This to me would have constituted a consistent and effective regime de-legitimization strategy.

I guess then that makes me the Anti-Senate leader of the Pro-Senate MDC faction! How ridiculous can we get? That debate is now in the past, let us move on and unite our people.

In any event, if I was a member of the MDC National Council on October 12 2005, I would have fought tooth, nail and claw to win in the battle of ideas; to convince my colleagues of the correctness of my position (total regime de-legitimization strategy). In the event of a defeat I would have submitted to the collective decision, and then vigorously campaign for this position against my own.

People of Zimbabwe I am here at this Congress because I cherish democratic principles and values. I am here because of the need for unity. I am here because I am pro-Zimbabwe. I am here because my heart aches when I see the economic meltdown in our country. I am here because the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who are here agreed with my terms of reference that I outlined on the 20th of February 2006. Are there any other Zimbabweans who share that framework? Come along, let us work together and reclaim our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we came here to do a job. In order to understand the nature of that task, we must ask ourselves the following questions:

Who are we as a political party? What are our values and principles? What is our vision for Zimbabwe? What is our strategy to achieve our vision?

Liberation War Legacy

We are a Zimbabwean and an African political party. We are freedom fighters. We are soldiers for social justice and democracy. We come in the tradition of the liberation war. We stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers of this nation; such as Nikita Mangena, Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira, Joshua Nkomo, and Robert Mugabe. Oh yes, the pre-1980 Robert Mugabe is part of the revolutionary tradition that defines us. We cherish and celebrate the heroic work of ZIPRA and ZANLA forces. We salute and revere Mbuya Nehanda and King Lobengula. We are a patriotic opposition party that cherishes and defends our national sovereignty. We are better defenders of the liberation war legacy than the current Zanu(PF) party, whose activities are a negation of the principles and values of that great struggle. But if we appear combative, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is because of love of our country!

Land Revolution

Our critique of the chaotic Zanu(PF) land reform program is predicated upon our belief that there was need for a land revolution in Zimbabwe. Land was the basis of our armed struggle. We believe that going back to the pre-February 2000 status quo is not desirable. We believe that our views on land reform in Zimbabwe are different from those of Western governments. Our approach is not driven by the interests of white farmers, but by those of all Zimbabweans, white and black. While we put the failure of the land reform program squarely on the Zanu(PF) government, we also acknowledge the complicity of some Western governments which reneged on agreements, and the inertia of white farmers in seeking pre-emptive solutions.

We propose a democratic and participatory framework that seeks to achieve equitable, transparent, just, and economically efficient distribution and use of land. This must have emphasis on productivity, food security, self-sufficiency, and collateral value of land.

Foreign Policy

"We believe in a national interest driven foreign policy, grounded in regional integration, and informed by Pan-Africanist ideals. We embrace the AU and Nepad frameworks, and believe in the solidarity of marginalized nations globally. We are anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist. In this vein, we would like to put our European and US strategic partners on notice. In the event of US or European aggression against smaller nations, we will publicly and unequivocally condemn such conduct. We stand opposed to any form of imperialism, violation of state rights and unilateralism. We will not accept assistance at the expense of our dignity, values and sovereignty. We make a clear distinction between strategic partners and political allies.

It is our considered view that double standards in international relations mitigate against our cause against the Zanu(PF) regime. For example, the treatment of Pakistan where a leader acquires power through a coup d'etat, and Zimbabwe where it is through a fraudulent election should be comparable. The results of free and fair elections must be respected and celebrated even if democracy produces the "wrong" results, as was the case recently in Palestine. These double standards expose the self-interest behind Western motives, thus weakening the impact of their arguments in supporting us against the regime in Harare.

The Democratic Imperative

It is essential to build and grow democratic institutions, values and principles within political parties and the wider Zimbabwean nation.

There must be free and competitive elections for all party positions and open primaries for all national elections (presidency, parliament, senate, and council). Civil society and civic organizations must be internally democratic, and respectful of their own laws. A new, people driven democratic national constitution is a pre-requisite. Term limits should be strictly adhered to in both political party and national constitutions. There is need to restore political freedoms, rule of law, personal security, and political legitimacy in Zimbabwe. It should be understood that the Zimbabwean political culture has been defined by Zanu(PF) for the past 26 years. We are all cut from that same cloth, hence the tendency to replicate Zanu(PF) undemocratic practices in all our organisations. We need to acknowledge this and consciously create a new democratic value system.

The levels of gender based inequalities and violence in our country is unacceptable. Through active involvement of all stakeholders, we should develop gender justice strategies to empower Zimbabwean women. Our female fighters should not be used as political pawns. We seek genuine emancipation and empowerment of women in all sectors of the economy and society.

In most developing economies, remittances from, and economic involvement of the Diaspora have become key strategic initiatives. We will seek to ensure that our fellow citizens in the Diaspora have a meaningful role to play in the development of their country by leveraging their remittances, expertise and networks. However, there is no taxation without representation. We must allow people in the Diaspora to vote in all national elections.

The Zimbabwean Economic Crisis: Solutions Now

There is urgency and distress in the nation. The people of Zimbabwe are suffering and their plight demands attention: Unaffordable basic commodities, school fees, property rates, and agricultural inputs, the crippling fuel crisis and lack of housing.

Inflation has soared to record levels, above 600%. Unemployment is above 80%. Industries have either closed or are operating below capacity. Our terms of trade as reflected by our Balance of Payments, are worsening every day. There is acute foreign currency shortage.

Investment spending has also collapsed, thus depressing aggregate demand. Our budget deficits, arising from the regime's insatiable appetite to spend, have been monetized thus increasing money supply and hence inflation.

What is so unique about the economic meltdown is that it is human-made by the misrule of Zanu(PF).

It is for this reason that we get very offended when people talk of turning around this economy. You turn around something going in a certain direction, and our economy is not going anywhere.

This economy is in the intensive care, and does not need to be turned around. It should be healed and recovered. A holistic approach that takes into account all factors must be the basis of a multi-variable economic model that seeks to derive solutions. We therefore believe that in order to get out of this quagmire, we need to do the following:

  • Honest assessment of our current predicament and taking ownership of our challenges (The regime is in self-denial and does not appreciate the extent of the problem.)
  • Development of a holistic and comprehensive economic recovery program with the involvement of all stakeholders.
  • Development of an economic stimulus package to jump-start this economy, through the re-engagement of the international community (Our problems are so protracted that we can not go it alone.)
  • Development of a medium term economic stabilization strategy which will focus on fiscal discipline, poverty alleviation, viable social security programs such as housing, healthcare, education, job creation, rehabilitation of our infrastructure and capacity building of local authorities.
  • Development of a comprehensive plan to reorganize and refinance agriculture in order to increase productivity.
  • Development of a blueprint that ensures that Zimbabweans have equitable access to affordable health, education, housing and other social services essential for economic development.
  • Developing a long term strategy, with sector specific programs, that ensures that Zimbabwe emerges as an industrialised, technology driven, competitive nation, fully integrated into the global economy.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, every country has a life, lessons and expectations. Every generation has its mandate. Does the generation that Zanu(PF) represents know what we want? Our generational mandate is the economy, and economic empowerment. Our generation demands the fruits of independence. They want to become commercial farmers, innovative entrepreneurs, productive workers, and creative managers. They want to be global players. They want to be globally competitive. We are the future of this country. Every generation of Zimbabweans will define what it means to be Zimbabwean. Our time has come. We demand that you, the Zanu(PF) regime, step aside and let our generation play its role. We want our freedom now. We demand our human rights now. We want solutions to the economic crisis now.

There will be no compromise, retreat, nor surrender.

Defeat is not on the agenda.

The struggle continues unabated.

Arthur G.O. Mutambara