The following is an address by People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s president Tendai Biti to the Party on 22 August 2017.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was formed on the bedrock of the principles of solidarity, freedom and justice – ideals of social democracy. Of importance today is the value of solidarity. The PDP stated its belief in solidarity through unequivocally advocating for the coalition of opposition parties, as stated in the historic Mandel Declaration of the 26th of April 2014, where the Party agreed that “this struggle needs renewal, reinvigoration and re-energization…only a broad and united alliance of Zimbabweans can achieve the central objective of bringing democratic change to our country.”
We reinstated this belief in the creation of alliances in our ARREST document, where CANON C correctly titled Coalitions Against Dictatorship, states that “The biggest lesson of the last 3 decades is that no single individual or group on its own can effect political change. The PDP thus believes that only a united opposition, an alliance of democratic forces or a coalition against dictatorship will remove the dictator.” Thus, today more than ever, the PDP should demonstrate its belief in solidarity by continuing to show commitment to a coalition. A coalition does not only display solidarity with opposition parties, it reflects solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe in the quest to deliver a truly independent and democratic Zimbabwe.
There is no question that Zimbabwe is in a multifaceted structural crisis, politically, the ruling Party is on the verge of collapse arrested by factionalism and a toxic battle over the unresolved succession issue. Recent events connected to the alleged poisoning of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the lashing out of the War-Vets, unconstitutional remarks by the Commander of the Army Constantine Chiwenga, all lead to the inevitable implosion of the state.
Further it is so clear that Mugabe is no longer a fit and proper person to lead our country (not that he has ever been fit at any given time). Images of him in his slumber, resting his eyes in front of the international community bring the country into disrepute.
More embarrassing is the reality that Mugabe has been captured by his erratic wife, Mrs Grace Mugabe. Mrs Mugabe’s recent behaviour in South Africa and her inability to control her kids, is evident that the country is on auto-cruise to self-destruction, run and controlled by an exhausted, greedy and intoxicated cult.
On the other hand our people are suffering, 95% are unemployed and are selling tomatoes, second hand clothes and anything else that can be sold. 75% of our people are in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day. I was in Chitungwiza recently; people are surviving on tsaona which is a plate of mealie meal, a lid of cooking fat and three leaves of green vegetables.
There is no money in banks even for the few on salaries. Pensioners are sleeping in bank queues to access their meagre pensions.
They’re no drugs in hospitals and basic non-communicable diseases such as blood pressure and diabetes have become the major killers.
I was extremely disappointed to note that many parents have failed to pay exam fees for final exams that have been set for October 2017. In Midlands South for example, two-thirds of parents of O’ Level students have failed to pay exam fees. What is even more worrying is that many have failed to collect results because they owe the school for lost text books or levies, this is criminal.
We therefore have a duty to put these suffering people first, we have the duty to put Zimbabwe first.
Anything else including our own personal ambitions and dreams to become councillors or MPs becomes a false agenda.
The people must come first.
It is with this in mind that we have spent the last two years pushing the idea of coalitions and alliances. Right from the onset we were the principle drivers of the Coalition for Democrats, (CODE). I personally drew up the CODE constitution and indeed came up with the name, CODE.
When ZANU PF expelled Joyce Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa and others, we were at the forefront of seeking a coalition with the same. We understood from the onset that the post liberation struggle for democracy had been missing the liberation element. We even coined an equation the past + the present = the future.
We attended every single rally of ZimPF from Makokoba to Binga, from Masvingo to Bindura. Through reasons that were not of our making, a coalition did not materialize and it was clear that ZimPF now NPP, was not ready for us. I shall not remind members of the pain of losing our Vice President, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo to NPP or their snub of our first anniversary or their recent refusal to sign CODE inspite of their own unilateral application.
Given this, we increased the tempo of contact with the MDC –T that had been established by my public appearance with President Morgan Tsvangirai at the NERA demo on the 26th of August 2016.
There is no doubt that these images excited our people. Thus when it became clear that there was an option of reconstituting the old united MDC, with its three components; MDC-T, MDC-N and PDP, it became an option worth pursuing.
The reconstituted MDC is operating under the banner MDC Alliance.
On the 5th of August, the Alliance was launched at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields, Harare.
There is no question that this excited the people.
There is also no question that the regime and other subjective forces are resisting this reunion.
To me, as President of this Party, l have absolutely no doubt that we must pursue the trajectory of a reconstituted old MDC under the name and style of MDC Alliance. It is this Alliance that must persuade Mrs Joyce Mujuru and others to join the same.
This is my vision, and my belief.
The idea of unity is not negotiable. However the terms of our entry into the Alliance remain open and negotiated.
Our negotiators have a duty to negotiate a fair and equitable deal but fairness does not mean we will get everything we want.
We must understand that we are a party that is two years old and at our strongest we had 21 seats.
We have no right to reap where we have not sworn but equally no one has the right to demean our contribution.
Ultimately, the issue is we have to do the right thing from the point of view of putting the interests of Zimbabwe first and not our own ambitions.
This deal must take into cognisance the position of other opposition players and more importantly, it must make ZANU PF scared of the 2018 election. If the PDP fails to get into the MDC Alliance, the best winner is ZANU PF who will be freely marching to Parliament with a two-thirds majority, in 2018; a nightmare, too scary to even imagine.
Comrades, as l conclude, l want to end by assuring comrades that l am very much alive to the needs and aspirations of the Party, these will not be eroded by joining the MDC Alliance.
I am very much alive to the belief system of the PDP, this will not be eroded by joining the MDC Alliance. The PDP will remain an independent Party with its own structures, even if we are to run under the banner of the MDC Alliance. We are not being swallowed into the MDC Alliance.
The MDC Alliance framework is yet to be concluded, it will speak to values and principles of cooperation, it will speak to the modes of operation during and after the election and will certainly have a final seat distribution matrix.
The PDP has always been known for thought leadership. It has been known for providing solutions to critical problems.
Other parties call us the answer book.
Let the PDP be known for its willingness to free the people of Zimbabwe through selfless sacrifice, solidarity and unity of purpose. Let the PDP continue to be known for its discipline. Therefore comrades let not unity be the cause of disunity.
Remember fellow democrats that democracy is not easy, yet the beauty of it lies in a democrat’s ability to work, plan and win with a person that could ordinarily be considered a foe or an opponent.
I thank you, God bless the PDP leadership and God bless you ALL.
President Tendai Biti, leader of the People’s Democratic Party