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Morgan Tsvangirai's statement to the press

28 Aug 2012 at 11:49hrs | Views
I wish to welcome you to this edition of the Prime Minister's Monthly Press briefing.

Firstly, I want to say that our country remains on a path towards political and economic stability. Despite our political differences, it is imperative that this inclusive government lays the basis for political stability by addressing those reforms that will lead to free and fair elections and ultimately, to a legitimate government.

I also wish to state that as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, I have had working visits to China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and have been heartened by the renewed confidence in our country. Currently, there is a business delegation from Japan following my recent visit to that country and such visits by prospective investors show that we remain a country with great potential to do business with the world again.

I have also had the occasion to visit several African countries recently, including the recent SADC summit in Maputo where I was invited as the leader of the MDC.

I can tell you with confidence that my interactions with SADC Heads of State and government have shown me that our brothers and sisters in Africa are full of hope on the prospects for peace, stability and economic development in our country.

After all, Africa, and in particular the SADC region, has invested a lot of time in helping us to find each other. As we reach the delicate stage of this transition, it is important that we retain the confidence of our brothers and sisters to show these stakeholders that on our part as a government, we remain committed to holding free and fair elections.

Economic Outlook
Our major concern has been dwindling revenue inflows and this has affected government's capacity to deliver on its primary functions. While we have succeeded in achieving economic stability, the new challenge is to grow the economy and this can only happen with FDI.

In the past three years, we have had two major investments in the country, notably Essar and the Chisumbanje ethanol project.

The Essar project has to proceed and the debate over mining concessions should now be a thing of the past. As government, we signed up to the deal and all we expect now is for work to resume at Essar.

On Chisumbanje, government has just dispatched an inter-ministerial committee and we await their feedback. We have to balance between the need to protect such a major investment and the concerns of the displaced communities. The future is in ethanol but we are expecting feedback on the situation on the ground from the committee that was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara so that we determine the way forward.

Any act that affects existing investments will have an impact on prospective investment in the country. As we speak, there have been disturbances in the Save Valley Conservancy and this sends the wrong message at a time when we are preparing to host the UNWTO next year.

To this end, I will be having a meeting with Environment and Natural Resources Hon Francis Nhema to discuss this issue.

The Inclusive Government
This government continues to lurch along. It remains mired in the usual policy discord which is likely to worsen as we trudge towards the next election.

I firmly believe that even as we brace for political contestation in the next election, we cannot afford to abdicate our responsibility as an inclusive government whose mandate is to serve the people of Zimbabwe.

We owe the people of this country leadership and we must continue to provide service and to create the environment for people to go about their daily business.

We have our own shortcomings in many sectors, but it is also true that there has been a marked improvement in service delivery especially in the fields of health and education since the formation of this government. I admit that we have our own challenges especially as we try to grapple with the outbreak of typhoid, but there has been commendable work in many spheres.

The Constitution
Perhaps the most important debate in the country is about the Constitution. I want to make it clear that neither the Principals nor the political parties have any veto power over the Constitution.

Article 6 of the GPA is clear that the Constitution-making process should be driven by Parliament. Some of us have no wish to revise that position and in any case, the Principals cannot renegotiate a document agreed by those with our delegated authority.

We cannot negotiate in perpetuity. This Constitution is a product of years of hard work which included sourcing the views of the people and negotiations between the political parties. So we say no to any attempts to dedicate more time in a process where the country has already committed huge resources and time.

It is time the people made a decision through a referendum and political parties should refrain from pretending to speak on behalf of the people when the people reserve the right to speak for themselves in a referendum.

This draft is a product of careful and painstaking negotiations on a give-and-take basis.

In this referendum, every party should reserve the right to campaign for or against this Constitution because it is high time we gave the people of Zimbabwe the right to make a determination on this important national process.

The new draft by our friends in this government is not an amendment to the draft, but a completely new document which is at variance which what the people said. For example, the people were clear on the need for a devolved State but our friends have completely removed any mention of devolution in their new document.

So let's take the draft Constitution to the people who are the real Principals in this matter. The Principals to the GPA cannot substitute the sovereign people of Zimbabwe to determine how they should be governed. Let the people of Zimbabwe in a referendum be the final arbiters, not three individuals.

A new Constitution is central to elections and to the reform agenda in Zimbabwe and if this process is collapsed, it will spell doom to the prospects for a credible, free and fair election

There has been a slight movement on electoral reform but the pace has been disappointing in respect of other reforms such as media which is key to a free and fair election. We agreed way back on a raft of media reforms that include the appointment of new boards to run State media operations. To date this has not happened.

As of now, the State media continues to divide this government by adopting a malicious and partisan approach against myself and my party. In short, continuing to act as propaganda mouthpieces of Zanu PF. Clearly, this is a major hurdle that has to be dealt with before the next election.

At the recent SADC summit, we were advised to put in place a cabinet committee on implementation and I hope that we will, as a government, succeed in implementing what we agreed and media reform is key if this country is to have some semblance of a free and fair election.

Way Forward
The way forward is a free and fair election but only predicated by a process which includes a new Constitution and the implementation of those reforms that will result in a credible poll.

We will not take part in anything other than a fair election. Anything else is a circus. The lesson of 2008 is that Zimbabwe cannot afford anything other than a credible and legitimate election that conforms to SADC's own conditions on the conduct of elections.We cannot afford anything less than that.

I thank you

Source - Morgan Tsvangirai
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