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Morgan Tsvangirai's speech upon his inauguration as Zimbabwe's new prime minister

The Inauguration Speech of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe,
His Excellency, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai. as provided by his party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Your Majesty, King Mswati III, the Chairman of the AU Commission, Mr Jean Ping, President Mugabe, former President Mbeki, Your Excellencies, Honoured Guests, People of Zimbabwe,

Today is an historic day for our country. As we form this transitional government, we look back with reflection on the difficult journey that has brought us to this day, and look forward with
determination to the road that lies ahead.

To my fellow African leaders, there can be no turning back on the political agreement which each party has signed, knowing it is not a perfect agreement but still a workable one. An agreement that if implemented with good faith, will deliver a peaceful way forward
toward a stable economy, a new constitution and free and fair elections. Brothers and sisters in SADC and the AU, we are counting on you to be our partners and to ensure that this agreement is upheld as we face the challenges of rebuilding our country in the days ahead.

Though today's ceremony marks a very significant milestone on our democratic journey, it is only the beginning. On this day 19 years ago Nelson Mandela walked free from Victor Verster prison, an historic step on South Africa's long road to freedom.

But former President Mandela's release did not signify the end of his people's struggle for democracy. His personal liberation showed that the victory of freedom over oppression was near. But on February 11th 1990, make no mistake, freedom had still not arrived. Only with the
courageous effort and compromise by all parties was a peaceful transition finally possible.

With the formation of this transitional government, President Mugabe, Professor Mutambara and I have pledged, in the sight of God, to deliver to the nation a new political dispensation.

This is our promise to you, to our children and to the future generations of Zimbabweans. This is the debt that we owe to our liberation heroes and our democratic heroes who paid the ultimate price so that we could all live together, free from fear, hunger and poverty.

For too long, Zimbabwe has endured violent political polarization. This must end today.

For too long, our people's hopes for a bright and prosperous future have been betrayed. Instead of hope, their days have been filled with starvation, disease and fear. A culture of entitlement and impunity has brought our nation to the brink of a dark abyss. This must end today.

Economic collapse has forced millions of our most able to flee the country seeking menial jobs, for which they are often overqualified but underpaid. They have had to leave their children behind to be cared for by the elderly, who do not have the resources to feed them and watch in despair as these flowers of our nation wilt and die. This must end today.

People of Zimbabwe, I have a vision for our country that will guide me as Prime Minister. I will work to create a society where our values are stronger than the threat of violence, where our children's future and happiness is more important than present political goals and where
a person is free to express an opinion, loudly, openly and publicly without fear of reprisal or repression. A country where jobs are available for those who wish to work, food is available for those that are hungry and where we are united by our respect for the rights and dignity of our fellow citizens. This is the Zimbabwe that I am working towards.

To achieve this vision, my priorities are very clear.

Firstly, we must implement our democratization agenda.

Through parliament, the people's representatives in the MDC and Zanu-PF, will pass legislation to restore the people's freedoms, create the mechanism through which a people's constitution can be created, reestablish the rule of law and promote the independent media. Our liberation war was fought to provide political freedoms to all Zimbabweans and we intend to restore them as a matter of urgency.

As I stand before you, more than 30 innocent people continue to languish in jail months are being abducted and illegally detained. While I will not interfere in the judicial process, I will make it a priority to ensure that the law is upheld and that the justice system deals with their cases in a fair, equitable and transparent manner in the shortest possible time frame

People of Zimbabwe, I call upon all of us to put aside our differences, to begin a process of national healing within every community, to work across party lines and look forward together with hope, while learning from a sad past that has so devastated our nation and our people.

Our second priority is tackling the humanitarian crisis with every means possible.

In the immediate days ahead we will focus on the cholera crisis. We will urgently reduce both the number of outbreaks and the unacceptably high mortality level by tackling the causes of the epidemic.

We will also ensure that every Zimbabwean has access to emergency food aid regardless of tribal or political affiliation. In this regard, we will ensure that the people can access humanitarian food aid on a non-partisan basis. I call upon the chiefs and local councilors to
work together to ensure that all those that are deserving can access the help they require.

To all of the international relief agencies and donors who have assisted us, let me say thank you on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe. It will be the mandate of this government to do all we can to make it easier to help alleviate the suffering of every Zimbabwean as we tackle the humanitarian issues gripping our country. In this regard, I will ensure greater impact and efficiency in the distribution of emergency and development aid by appointing a senior member of my cabinet to coordinate emergency and development efforts. In addition to emergency food distribution, the transitional government will make food more available and more affordable by
removing all duties on foodstuffs imported into the country. In the short term, we will convene a food summit of all relevant stake holders to help us ensure that no Zimbabwean goes hungry. We will introduce incentives to resuscitate and rehabilitate the local food manufacturing industry and we will move towards self-sufficiency in food production beginning with the next agricultural season.

The third priority is to stabilize the economy.

Out of the 20 fastest growing countries in the world, 15 are in Africa. Indeed, despite the overall economic gloom in the world today, the International Monetary Fund predicts a growth rate of 6.3% in sub Saharan Africa in 2009. As the world slows down, much of Africa is still growing. This is good news for us as we all know, if we work together, Zimbabwe has the skills and resources to contribute to this hopeful trend.

To get our economy going again, we must get the country working again. This starts with an educated and healthy workforce. Our schools, once amongst the best on the continent, can be restored to that standard of excellence. Similarly, our hospitals must be places of healing, with
the staff and resources to prevent and treat disease.

 

The professionals in our civil service are the backbone of our government, making sure that policy decisions are carried out and delivery of government services moves efficiently and accountably. Today our public service has ground to a halt as many of our patriotic
government employees can no longer afford to eat, let alone pay for transport to their place of work.

If we are to successfully address our nation's humanitarian crisis, we must first address the urgent plight of our civil servants.

As Prime Minister I make this commitment that, as from the end of this month, our professionals in the civil service, every health worker, teacher, soldier and policeman will receive their pay in foreign currency until we are able to stabilize the economy.

These hard currency salaries will enable people to go to work, to feed their families and to survive until such time that we can begin to sustain ourselves as a country.

My Fellow Zimbabweans, as we work together to rebuild our country, all of us must do our part. This will sometimes require sacrifices. In this respect, I ask every school be re-opened, and that every member of the civil service is behind his or her desk on Monday providing service to Zimbabweans.

 

As your Prime Minister, I will ensure that there is a clear distinction between the party and the state.

As your Prime Minister I will be open and honest with you.

It will take time, commitment and unity of purpose to rebuild our great country. I appeal to all Zanu PF supporters and MDC supporters, to recognize the legitimacy and contribution of the other party to our nation's history and our nation's future and work together to restore our pride in our people and our country.

We will need help from the international community and I ask them to engage with us to rebuild our nation and to work towards reestablishing a relationship that is not based on humanitarian assistance alone.

People of Zimbabwe, we face many challenges but we are brave and resourceful. By uniting as a nation and a people we can succeed. If you match our efforts with your own, we will succeed, if you match our desires with your own, we will succeed, if you match our dreams for Zimbabwe with your own, we will succeed.

At each point in our proud history we have looked forward not backwards, we have stood for hope not fear, we have believed in love not hate, and we have never lost touch with our democratic values or sight of our democratic goals.

 

People of Zimbabwe, I ask you to support me as your Prime Minister and the efforts of our new transitional government. I ask you to share my vision for our great country, to work with me to rebuild our nation and to walk with me on this promising phase of our journey to a true and lasting democracy.

May God bless you and May God Bless Zimbabwe.

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