We meet again after a very bleak so-called festive season at a time when the national predicament is worsening every day.
The signs of national leadership failure are now even more glaring for everyone to see, with government now literally lurching from one crisis to the other.
With paralysis everywhere, the President, insensitive to the overwhelming national crisis, has delegated his appointed green lieutenants to manage the crisis whilst he goes on leave, to the extent of even extending the same.
For his age, it is understandable why our President would want to rest. But what he needs is not an annual holiday but to admit to his failure of leadership at this critical national hour of need. Surely, we cannot all be blind to the reality of his state of health, his age and his physical frailties.
The national crisis
As I said in my end of year statement 17 days ago, we are in the middle of a serious crisis.
National revenue has dwindled and government is struggling to pay its workers. There is no predictability on government policy as such policies are being changed every day.
In 2014, the economy contracted sharply, with GDP declining by between 10-14 percent, the same decline as during the economic collapse of 2008. The budget was $4,1 billion in 2014 while expenditure was $4,8 billion plus a revenue shortfall of $300 million, giving rise to a massive budget deficit of $1 billion or 22 percent of expenditure. This was funded mainly by short-term borrowings and creditors, giving rise to severe cash flow problems for 2015 and beyond.
The lesson is that Zimbabwe urgently needs to re-engage the international community for budgetary support if it were to meet essential social and other targets.
During 2014, FDIU inflows into Zimbabwe were only $160 million, compared to $5,7 billion in Mozambique. As a consequence, the liquidity situation has reached critical levels, with several commercial banks closing their doors since Zanu PF resumed control of the State in August 2013.
There is no respite in the ongoing financial collapse while business continues to suffer from the collapse of confidence as represented by the Stock Market which has declined by 40 percent since the election of 2013. Unemployment has continued to spiral in the past 18 months and is now a threat to national stability. Ten percent of the national workforce has been made redundant as companies continue to close.
The parlous state of State enterprises is a sign of a collapsing government, with even the Grain Marketing Board offering workers bags of grain in place of salary arrears. Most of them are indebted, while the majority of the poor people in the country will not access health facilities as government owes in excess of $3 million to public hospitals.
The national budget and the government’s much-vaunted blueprint, ZimAsset, have failed to inspire growth and a positive impetus in the economy. In fact, the blueprint has proved to be much ado about nothing.
The façade of reform
There have been changes in the leadership of both Zanu PF and the government by the appointment of two new vice presidents. Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko were added into the cockpit of both party and government. It is simply a cosmetic change without any substantial impact on the direction of the country.
The newly-appointed vice presidents have their work clearly cut out for them. But predictably, they cannot extricate themselves from Mugabe’s ruinous and disastrous legacy. They are entrapped in the same policy failure that has characterised Zanu PF governance culture in the past 35 years.
Attempts have been made by Mnangagwa, the Acting President and some of his acolytes, to brand themselves as reformists when in fact they are unrepentant hardliners.
There are those who are so naïve as to believe that token changes in the cockpit can lead to realignment of our politics and that those token changes can spearhead a reform agenda.
These are leaders who were not elected but appointed to their positions. They have no mandate from the people and will simply do Mugabe’s bidding.
If Mnangagwa were sincere about reform, he would have pushed for the implementation of the Constitution in his capacity as minister of Justice and leader of government business in Parliament.
Any leader who is keen on genuine reform would have prioritised the implementation of the people’s charter endorsed by Zimbabweans in a referendum.
These latest Mugabe appointees are desperate to brand themselves as different and yet we know they have little room to manoeuvre outside the dictates of the appointing authority.
In the case of the acting president, he has a tainted record that Zimbabweans will never forget. Defining the end-game
Never in the history of the MDC have we faced a national challenge to find a solution to the end-game. Following our very successful Congress, a clear roadmap to the endgame was adopted and the implementation of those resolutions is our immediate task.
The following are the five areas of focus for 2015:
1. National Convergence Conference
In line with our Congress roadmap, we in the MDC are going to initiate the convening of the National Convergence Conference.
After that conference, there will be a new roadmap, agreed across the political divide, to rescue this country from its current quagmire.
The national convergence conference will not be an MDC platform but a platform for all players in their diversity to agree on the national grievances and together chart the way forward for the country.
The idea of a national convergence conference arose after a realisation that the national crisis is affecting every Zimbabwean despite, our political, racial and ethnic differences.
We shall be calling political parties, civic groups, the church, war veterans and other independent groups and individuals to come together so that we can discuss the national crisis and agree on the way forward. This is an opportunity for all of us in our diversity to mobilise the national sentiment for a national solution.
2. Rolling out campaign to liberate people
As we have said before, we reserve the right to mobilise the people of Zimbabwe around the national grievances agreed under the convergence conference. There will also be an attendant global campaign to sensitise the region, Africa and the world on the crisis in the country and the need to return to legitimacy.
Stopping Zanu PF must not only be a national campaign. Liberating the people of Zimbabwe must be a global cause.
We have written to Sadc Heads of State warning them of a possible implosion in Zimbabwe. Sadc and the AU must appreciate that the declining economic situation and the implosion in Zanu PF as the party in government has far-reaching consequences for stability, democratisation and development in the region.
3. Implementation of the reform agenda
Subsequent to the national and global campaign, there has to be expedient and urgent implementation of the genuine reforms, including constitutional, electoral and other reforms agreed under the auspices of Sadc and the AU as key to the conduct of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
4. Campaign for national elections
Implementation of agreed key reforms should then be followed by free, fair and credible election that does not breed a contested outcome.
5. Economic and social transformation
Economic and social transformation is the fifth and last signpost that should be the responsibility of the legitimate government after the free, fair and credible election.
In conclusion, the MDC faces a historic challenge of completing the post-liberation democratisation agenda. We are aware of our historical mandate to deliver positive transformation in the lives of the people.
As I have stated often-times, we reserve our right as a party to mobilise the people of Zimbabwe to engage in legitimate and constitutionally permissible action to petition government on any of the national grievances affecting ordinary Zimbabweans in their diversity.
And yes, we dare not fail in that goal.
And yes, in our diversity we shall attend the national convergence conference designed to map the way forward for our beloved country.
In the MDC, we believe in this country becoming a dignified home to all its citizens.
Farmers, housewives, students, business people, labourers, the church and the unemployed deserve a dignified country with abundant and equal opportunities for all.
The MDC is calling for unity of purpose by all democratic forces. Now is the time for the broader democratic movement to unite and rally together in finding a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. We should not allow egos and petty differences to stand in the way of the noble agenda to bring change in the country and to positively transform the lives of the people.
We will not rest until we achieve that historical obligation well within our lifetime.
I thank you.