Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The acceptance speech delevered by the President of the Movement for Democratic Change Professor Welshman Ncube in the 3rd National Party Congress in Harare City sports Centre on the 9th of January 2011

Chinja Maitiro-Maitiro Chinja    Guqula Izenzo- Izenzo Guqula

 The Honourable Deputy Prime Minister  of the Republic of Zimbabwe Prof. Arthur Mutambara, Honourable Ministers here present, members of the national executive of the MDC, invited guests from within and without Zimbabwe, fellow delegates. I am humbled and inspired  to stand before you this morning to make this address to you, accepting the responsibility that you have reposed on me  to lead this great party for the next five years. I accept the responsibility with humility recognising that in our small way we have together made history, not just as Zimbabweans but as Africans.
First, let me begin by paying tribute to our outgoing president Professor Arthur Mutambara, for the visionary manner in which he led our party in the last five years. Prof. Mutambara, we salute you, we honour you, we will forever be indebted to you for your contribution, for your sterling work in leading our party as a democrat who held us together even in the most challenging of times. We thank you for your unequalled work in the inclusive government where you have worked not just as a visionary but as a patriot, guided only by the national interest, never one to shy away from difficult questions and difficult decisions. Your exceptional intellect as well as your inspiring work ethic always put you head and shoulders above the rest. We thank you. We salute you. I thank you particularly for being a true democrat , for embracing the truism that the responsibility of leadership is a relay and for accepting that there must be a point in every relay, however enjoyable or how ever difficult, even the young, should pass on to the next member of the team, the relay button. Take heart that what these patriotic delegates have done in this Congress, what we, together as fellow members of this great party, hardly ever gets done in Africa. To pass the responsibility of leadership without raccour and with such memorable dignity is something for which we will always be grateful and proud and indeed indebted to you. It is a fact that the crisis that we face in Zimbabwe today has a lot to do with the fact that our liberation leadership has failed to appreciate and accept that, a nation cannot prosper unless its leadership embraces, as you have done, the basic truism that leadership is a relay. This precedent we have together, established with you as our leader is particularly poignant for this reason.
I ask you to take heart, as you absorb the abuse being thrown at you by our detractors and partisan activist media practitioners who are a disgrace to the journalistic profession, that there is a great deal of truth in the words of Winston Churchill, when he said “I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosity he excites among his opponents”
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, I also ask you to stand tall and proud that you led this great Party, at a time when we proved beyond any shadow of doubt the truth in the perceptive observation made by Margaret Mead that “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed  citizens can change the word. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Secondly, I would like to acknowledge and thank our founding fathers who cannot be with us today as the Lord saw it fit to call them when we still needed them the most. While we will never understand why the best among us are always taken away from us so prematurely and so painfully leaving us bewildered and empty, we do understand that we are who we are today, we are richer and wiser as individuals and as a collective because they touched our lives and enriched our party in ways only us who worked with them can understand. Join me dear delegates in dedicating this our Congress to the late Gibson Jama Sibanda, who taught us through his exemplary life the meaning of servant leadership,  the essence of humility, the strength that comes from honesty and integrity and to the late Renson Gasela,the great story teller, who taught us that no matter how deeply our opponents hate us and abuse us they will always be on the losing side if we refuse to hate them back and who always demonstrated the truth in Abraham Lincoln’s great maxim, “Am  I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” and to umdala the late Lyson Mlambo, always so dignified, always so patient, always so considerate and always exuding such strength, he taught us to reject aggression, revenge and retaliation  as methods of resolving disagreements.  They were all icons of our struggle for true freedom and for the prosperity of our people. I am who I am today because I learned the value humility, the strength of honesty, the importance of principle and the value of love from the three of them. To amai Ntombizodwa Gumbo our beloved mother and to Mukaro and many other pillars of our struggle who cannot be with us today I give my pledge to all of you as you rest in peace, that we will never forget your contributions to our struggle, we will not fail you, we will complete the struggle for the prosperity of our people as a whole. May your souls rest in peace, take heart that we will forever cherish your memories and that we will never fail you.

Thirdly, I want to define in the most clear of terms, what we as a party stand for, what we as a party fight for. We hold no brief for anyone. We fear no one. Our only brief is that of the ordinary working men and women of Zimbabwe who are burdened by unemployment, poverty and hunger. The workers who toil only a daily basis for a grinding existence, our mothers  and fathers in the rural areas who work and work, toil and toil on the land, only to remain steeped in an endless cycle of poverty. It is for them that we are in the trenches fighting.  It is because of them that we will never give up the struggle. We are here in the service of the people of Zimbabwe.

I want to acknowledge the words of Professor Arthur Mutambara when he took over the leadership of this great party at our last National Congress in Bulawayo in February 2006 when he said that “We stand on the shoulders of our liberation war heroes Nikita Mangena, Josiah Tongogara , Herbert Chitepo and  Jason Ziyapapa Moyo.” I repeat those words today and reaffirm that indeed we stand on the shoulders of all our liberation heroes.  We stand for all that they fought for. We stand for all that they died for. We stand for the liberty of our people. We stand for the freedoms of our people. We stand for the equality of all Zimbabweans without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, religion and political opinion. We stand for the political independence of all our people. We stand fort the economic  independence of all Zimbabweans. We are the true heirs and heiresses of the values of the liberation struggle. Our generational mandate is to realise the vision of the liberation struggle by delivering prosperity to our people. We acknowledge and cherish our liberation history. We are who we are because of it. We must now move forward to be who we must be, a great nation of prosperous free and happy citizens living side by side in joyous neighbourliness. Only our generation has the capacity, the training, the understanding, the skills and the will to deliver on this vision. Our founding fathers delivered on the vision of a free, politically independent and democratic Zimbabwe. We ask of the them to now not to stand against our future, not to obstruct this generation in its quest to assume its mandate and responsibilities!! Let our people be free so that they can freely choose a future of economic prosperity. We will not fail. We can not fail!!! It is our destiny!!
At the centre of the liberation struggle was the fight for the restoration of the dignity of all our people and  the absolute imperative for economic independence through the control of our resources. Our liberation war heroes fought for the economic independence of all Zimbabweans so that each and every one of us can be free from joblessness, free from homelessness, free from poverty and hunger, free from ignorance, so that we could all have access to quality education and medical care. We understand that  political independence is meaningless without economic independence.
We therefore reject totally and entirely those that seek to appropriate to themselves the legacy of the liberation struggle which is a legacy for each and every Zimbabwean. We therefore pledge here today that this leadership that you have elected today shall continuously ensure that we remain faithful to the ideals of the liberation struggle.  We also pledge that those ideals will always include the economic prosperity of our people. As we leave this Congress, we implore you as the owners of this great  Party to go back to your communities and mobilise and remain true and faithful to the values and founding principles of the Party.  Remain true and faithful to what this Party stands for even in the face of constant abuse.
Let me also state that these values and principles we captured in the Global Political Agreement. In that agreement we made them the Manifesto of the Inclusive Government. This your leadership today therefore pledges this day to all of you dear delegates, you the owners of this Party, that we will do everything in our power as part of the inclusive government, to ensure that this Manifesto of the Inclusive government is fully and faithfully implemented.  We will insist that the constitution making process must be completed. We will ensure that the new constitution faithfully reflects the will of the people.  The governance reforms of restoring our full political freedoms and liberties must be completed. Our economic recovery and growth which is the foundation of the properity of our people must not be put in jeopardy by political expediency!!
This, our Party must remain in the service of the people. In the service of the people we must work tirelessly for the creation of jobs for our people, for the elimination of poverty, for the economic welfare of all our people and for quality education and for access to adequate medical health.
To those that refuse to hand over power to a new generation of leaders, to those that think that they are the only ones born to lead, we say we pledge to organise against you. We promise you that the people of Zimbabwe will reject come the next election. There is still time for you to recognise that you did your part and its time to let the next generation of leaders to assume their responsibilities.
To the pseudo democrats and the hypocrites who have perfected the art of deceptive politics and double speak, we say to you, we refuse to be intimidated by the herd mentality  which you have so assiduously cultivated in our body politic with the support of your friends in the media who stand out like a sore thumb as enemies of freedom. We will remain faithful to the founding values and principles of the MDC. Those values and principles require that we shun the resort to violence as a tool of political organisation. They require that we shun the resort to ethnicity as a tool of through which to gain political advantage. Those values  require that we embrace and hold dear the principle of democratic collective decision making. Those values bind us to erternal integrity, unbending  to honesty and to fidelity to the truth.
Guqula-izenzo   Chinja- Maitiro-Guqula Izenzo- Chinja Maitiro
Before I conclude, Honourable  Deputy Prime Minister, I want to speak briefly on our international relations principles.  Our fundamental principle as a Party is that we shall work with all in the international community, be they in the West, East, South or North.  We shall work honestly and faithfully with all of them. We extend our hand of friendship to all nations and hold no ill will against any. In pursuit of the national interest of Zimbabwe we will look East, look West, look North and look South always cognisant that we are first and foremost Africans who still bear the scars and traumas of slavery, colonialism, racism and discrimination. We will continue to respect the African states and African institutions, the African Union, COMESA and  SADC, all of which we are proud members. We value the contribution of the AU, SADC and COMESA to the growth and stability of our nation. We remain proudly Pan African in our outlook and world view.
To those in the international community whose friendship and solidarity we seek we once again say, in us you will find our hand of friendship extended to you at all times. However, our hand of friendship has one condition which is not negotiable, you must accept and respect the sovereign right of the people of Zimbabwe which is so clearly enshrined in international law, to elect their political leadership without foreign interference. You have no right to seek to foist on Zimbabweans a leadership chosen by yourselves. We are not a colony of any nation. We are a free independent people. We will not allow any nation, however powerful, to anoint Zimbabwean leaders. That prerogative and right exclusively, by international law, vests with the people of Zimbabwe.
Thus, we reject with the contempt it deserves those of the school of thought that that holds that some powerful nations have a right to say this or that Zimbabwean leader should be pushed off the political stage in favour or this or that favoured leader of their choice.

We must acknowledge and thank all those international partners who have worked with the inclusive government to address the challenges we face as Zimbabwe. We thank in particular China,  Iran, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the UNDP and other Un agencies. Of course we thank all the SADC countries for working so tirelessly to help us resolve both our political and economic challenges, We thank South Africa for the leadership role it has played both before and after the formation of the inclusive government.

Finally,  allow me  Honourable Deputy Prime Minister to say that we will remain faithful to the policies of this party, those policies demand that all sanctions against Zimbabwe be lifted. We affixed our signatures to the GPA which enjoins us to work together with other partners in the inclusive government, to secure the lifting of all forms of sanctions and measures against our country and citizens of Zimbabwe. Our integrity requires of us that we must faithfully and honestly seek the fulfilment of this undertaking we made or our free will. We will never speak in forked tongues  on this or any other matter. We will not say one thing by the day and another during the night. We proclaim here today for all to hear us loud and clear, that all forms of sanctions against our country and any and all of our people should be lifted as per our agreement in the GPA.  Honourable Deputy Prime Minister,  will continue to speak as you have spoken on this matter.
Let me also say that the single most pervasive threat we face on the road towards the re-democratisation of Zimbabwe today is the sanctions regime. Sanctions are now ZANUPF’s most potent weapon against the people for they are a ready and always available pretext to deny us our political liberties by always raising the spectre of sanctions as a condition to abiding by some critical provisions of the GPA. Whatever the original intentions of imposing sanctions might have been, it is now abundantly clear, that today work in favour of ZANUPF and against the prospects of democratisation.  They are undermining our ability to move forward with the democratic agenda.
I conclude by thanking all of you, my fellow delegates for the confidence you have reposed in me to be your President for the next 5 years. I am humbled by your faith and trust in me.  We have walked together through the furnance, in which we have been steeled in our resolve and commitment to a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. But the heat of the furnance has not darkened our love for each other nor has it diminished the fountains of empathy for all our people.  We have been persecuted, arrested, tried, beaten and abused. For it we are that much stronger today than we were yesterday. Together, we have been hardened in our resolve to be honest fighters and advocates for the common man.
I pledge and commit myself to work tirelessly to fulfil the trust you have placed in me. On behalf of the entire leadership you have elected at this our 3rd National Congress I pledge, that together there will be no village, no suburb no valley, no home  and no community in Zimbabwe we will not enter in search of the support of the people to be the Party that will form the next government. We will do all we can to ensure that by the time of the next Congress, this great Party shall be the party, leading us into a secure and bountiful future as descendants of Mambo and Mzilikazi.
I say to all of you. It has been a long bruising struggle but change will come. In the remaining short time left before change comes let us be mindful of the lyrics from the song   “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.

“I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
'Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me, "Don't hang around"
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say, "Brother, help me please"
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees

Oh there been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will”
As we move into the final mile of our struggle for a free and prosperous Zimbabwe join me as we sing again and again this song which so poignantly captures the essence of who we are and what we strive for.
Thank you, Tatenda, Siyabonga. May God bless all of you.
Chinja – Maitiro-Maitiro-Chinja * Gugula Izenzo – Izenzo Guqula

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