By Sunday Oyinloye
The President of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Nelson Chamisa has enjoined Zimbabwean youth to see themselves as game changers even as he laments that majority of his countrymen and women are still in shock “at the brazen manner in which their votes were stolen”.
Chamisa in a message on Heroes Month says no weapon can defeat the will of the people.
Below is the full text of his speech
It is exactly twelve months since disputed and stolen election of 2018. The majority of Zimbabweans are still in shock at the brazen manner in which their votes were stolen. Disputed elections continue to pose a major blow and betrayal to the fundamental ideals of the liberation struggle, whose main aim and clarion call was One Man, One Vote. Manipulation of the vote is indeed a negation of the sanctity and integrity of the right to choose for which so many of our people died in pursuit of that democratic right.
The non-racial Zimbabwe of today was born out of a strong desire, and a determined sense of sacrifice, by many brave young men and women, who put their lives and livelihoods at risk in order to deliver a free and prosperous Zimbabwe, for all who live and belong to it.
The liberation of Zimbabwe came through a protracted war of independence, so this month we are joined together as Zimbabweans in paying tribute to the valiant men and women, who fought for the liberation of their country, Zimbabwe. What brings and binds us together as Zimbabweans is far more important than what may separate us as a people.
Through this incredible sacrifice, we are moved to believe that with unity of purpose, fortitude and commitment, no weapon can stop a moment whose time has come. Our liberation heroes such as Josiah Tongogara and Nikita Mangena, always reminded us that victory was certain, those worlds have never been more appropriate and truer, than for this time that we are living in.
No evil force can overwhelm a people’s desire whose cause is just and righteous, and whose time has now come. In fact, so important is the Heroes commemoration, such that allocating a mere day for such a mammoth and important occasion is not enough.
In a New Zimbabwe, under a new people’s government, every day will be a Heroes Day, because we honour our heroes through how we live our lives and not through cosmetic, vacuous and inadequate celebrations that ignore our people’s suffering.
We believe that Heroes are found at all levels, and are not only political, because we find them in our communities looking after orphans and the disabled, an example set by the late great Jairos Jiri.
Our new government will declare a Heroes and Memorials month so that the nation is accorded adequate time to remember the sacrifices made, the courage exhibited, the bodies maimed and the lives lost in the struggles to liberate and democratize our beautiful Zimbabwe.
We will be setting aside a whole month to celebrate this significant epoch in the national story of Zimbabwe, these celebrations will be done and reflected through how we look after our people, especially the most vulnerable. There is nothing heroic or revolutionary about stealing money meant for pensioners at NSSA, and looting money meant for social services as we have seen happen for decades under the present government.
Heroism is about protecting our people and not about making empty speeches at a place that has been turned into a political party cemetery, yet funded by the struggling taxpayer in Guruve, Gwanda, Murewa, Bikita and everywhere in the country.
It is my wish for the whole month of August to be littered with community programs, town-hall meetings, village communions, dance, arts, film and various other festivities in remembrance of those patriotic Zimbabweans whose blood irrigated the tree of our political and economic emancipation.
These gallant sons and daughters of this land, whose sweat, toil and tears birthed an independent and democratic Zimbabwe, should be celebrated through works that reflect how they envisaged a free Zimbabwe.
Those of us who are the political alternative are fully aware of the fact that the democratic struggle that we are prosecuting is mutually inclusive and consistent with the liberation struggle ideals of Nikita Mangena and Josiah Tongogara.
We fully recognize that the unfulfilled part of their struggle desires is found in the lack of liberation and political independence outcomes, which are defined by the freedom to choose, and also by the availability of a better life for our people.
Theirs was a truly heroic struggle, but unfortunately their dream of a better Zimbabwe remains a dream deferred that we must now fulfill in order to complete the liberation struggle. The challenge for our generation is to fully address that conspicuous deficit, one that has brought untold suffering to our people. Our role as a democratic movement is simply to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle, whose aspirations and desires should never be ignored or undermined.
Our struggle as a democratic movement, the struggle we began with the iconic Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and others in 1999, is a patriotic struggle that stands right on the shoulders of the struggle waged by *Alfred Nikita Mangena, Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Magama Tongogara and Lookout Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira*to mention but a few.
We only wish to complete that unfinished National Democratic struggle by ensuring that the attendant freedoms and the full democracy that this iconic generation aspired for are fully achieved in our lifetime.
And indeed from this generation, they shall come forth with our own heroes, those who are sacrificing for the fulfillment of the Zimbabwean dream.
The spirit of heroism is within each and every one of us. That spirit of sacrifice, that sense of responsibility and duty towards others around and beyond us within our borders is what we are in pursuit of. We salute those who at times risk their lives to save others in one-way or another.
Each and every generation has its own heroes. We also have modern-day heroes who remind us that it is in our nature to reach out to others, to sacrifice for others and to do that which is good for our country. On this National Heroes’ Day, we resolutely salute them, as we do to our sportsmen and women; our musicians who through their hard work on the international scene continue shine a positive and bright light on Zimbabwe. Indeed, we also have everyday heroes in our military and police forces, our teachers, nurses, and countless responsible citizens who see sacrifice as a duty, and honour in service to our great nation. I am painfully aware that some of you may be in a fuel or bank queue, or have no electricity or water, or can’t get your passport, or are struggling with medical or school fees, or have nightmares with the rising cost of living and high prices.
Remember, every shortage is but a shortage of love. Every problem and shortages that we are encountering are a leadership deficit. Amidst the current hardships of water, power and cash shortages, I wish to take advantage of this occasion to salute all resilient Zimbabweans who are braving these painful realities under these difficult circumstances. Indeed, you are national heroes. Your sacrifices under these trying times need to be equally celebrated and acknowledged.
I urge you all the heroic people of Zimbabwe not to despair, better must come, and it will come if we are united in delivering a Zimbabwe for not only ourselves, but for future generations to come whose stock is constantly being looted by a corrupt, incompetent and nepotistic predatory group.
Let all Zimbabweans reflect on the sacrifices paid on this day. Let us all spend the holiday with our families and friends and share our aspirations and thoughts of a united and peaceful country. It is heart wrenching to note that war veterans who were at the centre of the struggle for our independence are living under squalid conditions and without any social or economic support from the State.
The plight of war veterans and their families is of immediate national concern. The men and women who fought for the independence of this country from colonial rule had a vision and aspirations. This vision has being shattered by criminal behaviour and selfish and personal pursuits for wealth.
Today, this once breadbasket of Africa is now a basket case. Surely, this stands out as a betrayal of the lofty ideals of the liberation struggle. Incredibly, Zimbabwe houses vast wealth, exceptionally talented Human Resources, rich minerals, fertile lands and natural wonders.
The opportunities for economic transformation and prosperity are limitless and immediately available if we have a people’s government; one that cares about the nation. The population of our young and very educated people makes an ambitious economic growth path more certainly achievable in our lifetime. The vision that has been set by our forefathers and yet betrayed by their successors is not far beyond our reach, but only if we start working now.
That work begins today by fixing our politics and governance deficits. Good governance and growth have long been penciled to go hand in hand with a nation’s success. However, we will not fix our politics without true and legitimate leaders, Zimbabwe is a long way from real transformation and sustainable growth as long as it is subjected to comical political arrangements meant to satisfy the greed and very few.
The Zimbabwe that our heroes dreamt, worked and died for is one in which no citizen would be a unsafe and insecure in the land of their birth. In that Zimbabwe, no citizen would die or be in jail on account of politics, power and political differences. It would be a Zimbabwe in which every citizen would have a decent job and wage, with all Zimbabweans having a fair share and equal opportunities to the wealth they create and equal rights that our heroes secured for us. This Zimbabwe, however, can only be built by a political leadership that places the highest premium on integrity and which is committed to the highest standards of public service, while recognising the importance of a partnership with the people they serve. We can best honour our heroes by providing this leadership in our various areas of endeavour, as we rededicate ourselves to the task of building a Zimbabwe that offers opportunity to its entire people, and where we all share and care for each other.
This is where we must begin today here in Zimbabwe. We are determined to return our country to legitimacy, democracy and prosperity. My fellow citizens, nothing short of a political solution through national dialogue will extricate our country from the jaws of impoverishment, poverty and suffering. We must have genuine comprehensive political and electoral reforms to transform our country and make it prosperous. To the entrepreneurs (vendors), the war veterans, the workers, youth and women’s groups, the marginalized groups, the civic and church groups, let us mobilize each other as peacemakers in the quest for freedom.
Let us not miss our turn to be genuinely heroic in pursuit of a better life. Let us sacrifice for a better Zimbabwe. Let us be the heroes of our time by bringing back that glitter, glamour and glory to our motherland. Our national heroes have left us a great heritage and legacy to build on; let us preserve it for generations to come.
None but us can fix this country. This is the purpose of our generation. The liberation generation discovered theirs, we as the transformation generation must play our part and act our duty by delivering a truly prosperous Zimbabwe. In conclusion, I wish to say to the youth of this country, you are the game changers and defenders of our country.
The cost of doing nothing far exceeds the cost of doing something. We must change our unmerited circumstances and harsh realities of joblessness, hopelessness and poverty.
The future is bright. Tomorrow is glorious!
Change that delivers.
Thank you and God Bless You.
*Happy Heroes Month.
Zimbabwe, land we love, land of peacemakers, Our motherland.