Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Africa Day

May 25 is Africa Day, a public holiday in most African nations in honor of our great continent (this explains why I've been feeling like I shouldn't be at work today;). To commemorate this holiday, here now is Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Africa Day address to the nation verbatim;

TODAY, we as Africans celebrate Africa Day and, collectively, we have much to celebrate. The tide of democracy and good governance is spreading across our beloved continent. Peoples’ basic rights and human dignity are being restored.
This pervasive concept of empowerment at the micro level is an integral part of Africa’s Renewal and is essential if we are to tackle poverty and inequality and meet the targets set out under the Millennium Development Goals.

The MDC’s vision for Zimbabwe is identical to the broader goals and objectives of the African Renaissance, enunciated under the progressive framework for action created by the AU and NEPAD. We want the people of Zimbabwe to have jobs, to be free from hunger and to have the skills and opportunities to realise their dreams and aspirations. We want for Zimbabwe what Africa’s progressive political leaders want for the continent: plural democracies build on the social democratic principles of solidarity, social justice, freedom and equality.

These progressive values guided liberation struggles across Africa. Regrettably, as in the case of Zimbabwe, these values have often been viewed in the post-independence era as subordinate to the exclusive forms of nationalism and narrow power interests pursued by ruling elites. The manifestation of such expedient political agendas has been increased poverty and the marginalization and disempowerment of the majority.

It is the struggle to restore peoples’ dignity and basics rights, and to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle, that defines the crisis in Zimbabwe. And this crisis is getting worse.

The aftermath of the stolen parliamentary elections has been characterised by a campaign of violent retribution against those suspected of voting for the MDC. The arrest in Harare of over 10,000 street traders over the past few days, and the destruction of market stalls and tuckshops, represents a central plank of this retribution campaign.

The Government’s claim that such action is in the public interest is disingenuous. Street vendors are not sabotaging the economy; it is the government which is sabotaging the economy through mismanagement and corruption. Teachers, doctors, nurses, factory workers and people from all walks of life have been forced into becoming street vendors as it has become the only means of survival. They are the victims and yet are now being punished for trying to feed their families and for being suspected of having the temerity to express their own political preferences.
A government that destroys the properties of people who are trying to make an honest living, is evil. It is people insensitive. Millions of Zimbabweans have been made poor and jobless by this regime. The people have sought ways to provide for their families. Not only have flea-markets and tuck shops been destroyed, the people’s belongings have been stolen by the government.

The government did not even have the heart to give people a notice period to salvage their belongings; it ploughed through their properties and looted their goods. That is unforgivable.

The MDC is fighting for these, and the millions of other oppressed and victimized people in Zimbabwe. We are continuing to mobilise the people around our peaceful agenda for change. Our policies, as the turnout at our elections rallies demonstrated, inspires the people with hope for the future.

We have entered a new phase in the struggle for change in Zimbabwe. This is the social democratic struggle that will take many forms. That phase calls for the participation of all the people of Zimbabwe, in the same way that all national effort was mobilized for the liberation struggle. As a collective we will overcome this evil oppression.

Change, while it may not occur in the short-term, is inevitable and the MDC is making good progress towards leading the people of Zimbabwe to achieve this goal. -Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC President

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