Saturday, May 17, 2008
Morgan Tsvangarai - Hope: The Fuel that Drives and the Glue that Binds
In Belfast for Liberal International Congress and the highlight so far has to be Morgan Tsvangarai addressing us yesterday. I am always challenged when listening to activists for whom their activism often costs them their liberty, their health and for some ultimately their life. When the worst that can happen to me is a scolding from Paul Walter or Alex Wilcock, I am challenged to think firstly, would I put my life on the line for what I believed and secondly, if I did, would I have the wisdom and wherewithal to avoid being taken out almost immediately. So, listening to Morgan Tsvangarai was indeed a humbling, challenging and uplifting experience.
He started by expressing his commitment to democratic development, but said it was hard to convey what this meant to the people of Zimbabwe, a dream that must not be allowed to be destroyed. He lauded the people who had dared to cast their vote for change, even though that meant them facing having their homes burnt, bones broken and worse. Their commitment was to dignity, hope and freedom - based on a devotion to democracy.
He reminded us of the recent elections and the violence of a party that had lost legitimacy. No Zimbabwean was safe, thousands had been targeted and many were having to flee, but the truth was that democracy often comes at a terrible price. He reflected that just as Northern Ireland had witnessed a new beginning, so a new beginning was inevitable in Zimbabwe. The regime was weak, supported by a few greedy countries, the people were facing not only broken bones but broken promises.
He expressed his belief that an African solution was needed for an African problem, a solution based on human rights and democracy. Mugabe won't surrender power, but all needed to stand up for what they believe in. He spoke movingly of his sadness that Robert Mugabe, once his hero as the liberator of his country had turned his back on his people. He had hardened his heart against them and the complacency of the people had lead to him acquiring more and more power. He reminded us that this wasn't a civil war, there was only one warring party, a party motivated by greed and power.
He closed with an upbeat messages, the MDC were a government in waiting, the country was in crisis and they must implement a new legislative programme and instigate a new form of governance based on a new constitution. They would engage stakeholders to promote economic recovery and consult on a new constitution based on fundamental human rights and the rule of law - prosperity cannot be isolated from democracy. Despite even recent losses of two of their party members, Morgan was strong in his assertion that democracy must and will return. The MDC will promote inclusion and tolerance, they will never stop hoping as he said "hope is the fuel that drives and the glue that binds."