MDC Press Statement

Morgan one more time - MDC to contest run-off

President Morgan Tsvangirai, Pretoria, 10 May 2008

On March 29th the people of Zimbabwe won an historic victory.

That historic and resounding victory should have heralded a new and joyful era for all Zimbabweans. Instead Zimbabweans have endured confusion, pain, death and despair as the result of a violent onslaught against the people by Zanu-PF.

As is now well documented, my opponent in this race has decided to turn his thugs on the people. The former liberator has turned his back on the people of Zimbabwe and on the entire continent of Africa.

It is very, very sad for me to call Mugabe a former liberator. It is sad for me to say that he has turned his back on both his people and his continent. Mugabe was once my hero too. Because of his sacrifices, millions of our citizens are well educated and had great opportunities to grow and prosper.

But something happened to Mugabe on our long walk to freedom; something happened that hardened his heart. Something happened that made him abandon the very people he once fought to free.

He has unleashed violence on his own children, the people of Zimbabwe.

And for those carrying out the violence on the ground, the police, the militia, the army and the so called war veterans now is the time to give very serious thought to the implications of further attacks on innocent civilians. You are breaking Zimbabwean and international laws and the whole world is watching.

The time is now for our professional security services to follow their hearts and become professional again, rather than follow a former liberation hero on his path to destruction. You will be in Zimbabwe long after Mugabe is gone.

In view of the unfolding post-election tragedy, the leadership of the MDC, civil society, and all democratic forces have had a very difficult decision to make. We know the betrayal of ballots being followed by bullets. We know that another election may bring more violence, more gloom, more betrayal.

We know there should not be a runoff election – there was only one reason the ZEC announced results before completing verification. We know the verified total would have revealed the full extent of the dictatorship's defeat – and the full extent of the peoples' victory.

But we also know a runoff election could finally knock out the dictator for good. A runoff election could be the final round in a very long fight to liberate ourselves from our former liberator.

We know that we have won, but do we nevertheless decide to contest a runoff election to hasten the end of this debacle? Or do we wait and hope for the political environment to improve, for mediation to start, for mediation to end….all the while the people continue to suffer?

I have asked the MDC, civil society and other democratic forces to assess the feeling of the people on the ground. Do they want a runoff election? Will they vote despite the violent attacks? Could they possibly have confidence in the ZEC again?

To be honest, the answers are very mixed. Some report that they believe the people are too afraid to vote, that they are displaced by the destruction of their homes and not even near their polling stations any more. Others point to the fact that the ZEC betrayed them once and will do so again. Others say it is simply not fair to push the people into an election.

I consider all of these valid points of view. No one can dispute that going into an alleged runoff of an election that you have already won – an election controlled by an opponent whose election tactics unapologetically include stealing and killing - is a risky venture indeed.

What matters now is what we, as Zimbabweans, think is the best way to move ourselves out of this crisis. Are we brave enough? Are we strong enough? Are we angry enough?

The overwhelming sentiment that emerged from the people of Zimbabwe is that they are ready for change now, not later. They want a chance for a better life now, and they believe that the MDC can give them that chance. They believe that we as nation are brave enough, we are strong enough and we are angry enough to fight an election once again. We as MDC believe our people would feel betrayed if we shied away from the final knock out. We have lost hundreds of people in the democracy movement since 1999. Their sacrifices must not be in vain. We must fulfill the dreams of our people who have been betrayed and traumatized since March 29th.

The MDC has decided that we will contest the runoff and the people will finally prevail. The people have spoken before, and the people will speak again. I am ready and the people are ready for the final round.

Legally this election should be no later than May 24th, two weeks from today, and that is the date we are preparing for. If Zanu-PF and the ZEC hope to retain what little credibility they have left they will abide by the law and declare the Presidential runoff election between today and that date.

Therefore I shall return to Zimbabwe within the next two days.

I shall return to Zimbabwe to begin a Victory Tour. Some might say this term "Victory" is cold and callous given the hardships endured by the people.

But the people are victorious. And they are being punished for their victory. We must free ourselves from those who would steal victory from fellow brothers and sisters by using guns, sticks and screwdrivers.

In the last four weeks many leaders have rallied to the cause of Zimbabwe. To SADC Chairman Mwanamwasa and African Union Chairman Kikwete, and many of your colleagues, I want to say thank you. When Zimbabwe rejoins the family of democratic nations, history will remember what you did for your brave, peace loving African brothers and sisters now living in fear of their own government.

I want to thank the labor unions and COSATU for refusing to allow the illegitimate regime of Zanu PF to access more weapons for use against its own people.

To Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and others in the international community, we thank you and appreciate all your work. We will continue to count on you, SADC and the AU, to ensure the upcoming runoff is administered fairly, with transparency, neutrality and professionalism.

And finally, I thank the people of Zimbabwe for their courage and devotion to democracy. And I ask them not to lose hope. Together let us finish the job. Together let us have faith that this time, the ballot paper will truly liberate our country.

I thank you