There were conflicting media reports yesterday following Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Press conference at which he spoke about elections in Zimbabwe.
Some reports said Tsvangirai agreed with President Robert Mugabe on the issue of elections, while others, including NewsDay, reported that the Prime Minister feared early polls could result in bloodshed and that his party would not accept unilaterally declared elections that would be held without the necessary reforms.
Because of space constraints, we have edited out some aspects of the PM’s address to journalists in Harare on Monday that had no bearing on elections in Zimbabwe.
We meet at a time of an impending food crisis, rising and renewed political tension in the country, increasing cases of violence and unnecessary political threats — when we want to anchor our country on values of peace and tolerance as we prepare for a watershed poll.
The inclusive government trudges on and we continue to strive, despite our political differences, to serve our country in these difficult circumstances.
As I have often said, the nature of our coalition is such it is always difficult to achieve maximum delivery especially after a misguided pronouncement of an election without necessary reforms as political parties slide more into competition rather than collaboration.
However, the onus is on us as leaders to continue to nurse this delicate transition so it does not implode to reverse the achievements of this coalition and the prospect of a peaceful election anchored on key reforms.
Two weeks ago, I travelled to London to address the Times CEO Africa conference.
Despite our bad politics, it is always encouraging to note there is a lot of interest in investing in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular. We are sitting on huge potential and our small responsibility is to sort out our politics and we will definitely rediscover the full potential of this great country.
In Mali, Africa was once again shamed by those in the military who deposed an elected government and threw the country into uncertainty.
We applaud the decision by Ecowas and the international community to call for the return of constitutional order and rule in the country.
Many African countries have their own cabals itching to subvert civilian processes and threatening to disrespect the will of the people.
The good news is time is not on their side and as we saw in the Ivory Coast, the world will not allow the bullet to triumph over the ballot.
In Senegal, an attempt by my friend Abdoulaye Wade to run for a third term backfired when the people chose to break with the past by electing a new leader.
And once again, as we saw in Zambia recently, there was peaceful transfer of power and we saw Wade conceding defeat and allowing the country to move forward.
I have since sent my congratulatory message to the new President and to the people of Senegal for projecting the correct image of a continent working hard towards entrenching a culture of democracy and respect for the will of the people. Well done, Senegal.
We continue to work towards the next election, albeit with sharp differences over the nature and complexion of that election.
There has been slow movement on reforms as our colleagues view any reform as equivalent to conceding power.
For us, reforms are a fulfilment of what we agreed upon and signed up to, both in the GPA and in the roadmap that was facilitated by Sadc.
We continue to insist any credible poll must be predicated by reforms and that is why last month, my party launched a document, Conditions for a Sustainable Election in Zimbabwe.
These conditions are not a pie in the sky, but minimum conditions even Sadc itself has adopted as basic for the holding of a free and fair poll in any country in the region.
We will insist on those conditions. We will fight for them. And indeed, we will urge Sadc to insist on its own conditions in Zimbabwe. We say so because of the emerging violence in the country.
A human rights group recorded the increase of violations from 365 in January to 413 in February.
The group expects these violations to further escalate in the coming months because of election talk that is not accompanied by mention of necessary reforms.
Chipangano continues to wreak havoc and I wish to deplore the comments attributed to Tendai Savanhu of Zanu PF who publicly threatened the elected MaronderaMP Ian Kay.
It is deplorable in this day and age one can publicly threaten an MP simply because of his race.
It is because of these statements, and the violence that continues to rock places such as Mbare, we insist on the right conditions for a credible poll.
We urge Sadc to keep an eye on developments in Zimbabwe. As a nation, we still await the deployment of three officials to join Jomic to monitor violence in the country and to ensure implementation of agreed reforms.
There have been misguided pronouncements about dates for elections and the holding of the referendum. I wish to state those dates will be determined by a process and not by a resolution of any organ of a political party.
As principals we expect a draft of the constitution, which is one of the key reforms before we hold any election.
And I wish to restate what I said in Parliament recently, that while individual political parties may claim to want an election without a new constitution, there is no such position in the government.
We all want the elections held yesterday with the provison they be conducted after the completion of the constitution-making process and the institution of those reforms we have agreed upon.
Surely, as the government, we cannot fund a process we are not keen to embrace.
So indeed we await the completion of this process and the institution of other reforms before we hold an election, whose date the President and I will agree upon in accordance with the law.
I urge all of us to help nurture this delicate transition. The next election is not about cheap rhetoric, misleading people and firing cheap broadsides at the region and the facilitator simply because one wants to placate the hardliners in their political party.
The next election is about respecting the regional effort and putting in place mechanisms to ensure we have a credible poll that will usher in a legitimate government.
Lastly, as we celebrate this Easter holiday, let us all think about the importance of sacrifice.