National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Calls on Zimbabweans to Support Protests

Tuesday 11 November 2008.

Statement by Dr Lovemore Madhuku issued on the morning of 11 November 2008 before being arrested later in the day.

From Tuesday, November 11, 2008 the NCA will be staging a number of protests across the country to register concern on the need for an urgent resolution to the country’s political crisis. The tragedies that we are facing as a people have reached disaster proportions, threatening to submerge the entire nation. The economic and social ramifications of this man-made disaster are dire: millions of our children have been denied the right to learn; we are all being denied basic sanitation – with clean water becoming a luxury. Sewerage flows the streets and preventable diseases such as cholera are ravaging thousands.

We all share in common shame the unfortunate story of our country’s regress from being a jewel, born filled with promise, to what it has become now: a sad spectacle, an example for others on what never to follow. We have watched hope disappear, as our fortunes and promise for the future diminish with each passing day. The economy has virtually collapsed: industry having shrunk 60% and all Zimbabweans having been left either unemployed or under-employed. Our mining sector is a breeding ground for corruption and plunder, uniting a cartel of local elite and rogue international corporations.

For long a time the incumbent holders of political authority have used the State as an instrument for expropriation, with resources meant for national development being siphoned and turned into personal fortunes. As the nation bleeds, they fatten. To deal with dissent to this misrule and abuse, the incumbents resort to violence and all manner of oppression. We are forced to agree to this betrayal.

This is the rot that we seek to stop, that we have spent the past years fighting against.

At the centre of the resolution to our problems is the urgency of restoring democracy and freedoms to all our people. This requires the crafting, by all Zimbabweans, of a democratic constitution that will guide and define the character of national life. No longer can we afford to surrender ourselves to the good whims and caprices of our leaders. We have learnt better that a nation can never prosper unless the poor and less powerful amongst it are equalized in law with its rich and powerful. Those who are privileged to lead society and its institutions must be no more powerful than those whom they lead.

The advancement of human dignity should be at the centre of all national aspiration. The status of women in our society should be improved and equalized to that of men. There is so much inequity and a lot of exclusion. It is not democracy when a State is not at the service of its citizens.

We have tried over the past years to advance the cause for, and the many virtues, of a democratic society. The past few months have seen the nation’s hopes being pinned on compromising these virtues with an unrepentant dictatorship. These negotiations continue, but the more the talks go on, the more our hopes for a just order diminish. We have already seen the contents of the September 11/15 Agreement and how it fails to represent the quest for national renewal and transformation. The agreement subordinates the whole nation to the same people who have brought us the misery. The constitution making process envisaged in the deal, for instance, is dominated by the political elite to the exclusion of all other citizens.

We have for long rested our fortunes on the international community and their support has been mixed. In some circles our cause has been well received, with tremendous support being given to our country. During this long season of despair, the only food for the hungry and medication for the sick has come from aid. This support comes with the hope and good wishes that one day we should be able to stand as a proud nation, able to feed our own; able to educate our own; able to prevent disease and treat the sick on our own.

Others, however, have sort to find a way of intellectualizing our misery, finding all manner of theory to explain how our misfortunes are unavoidable. Solidarity has been given to those who oppress the weak, either actively or through the mere lack of moral courage to stand for what is right and act in defense of the vulnerable.

As a nation, we have to come to terms with the fact that no amount of international support to our struggle will come to bear without local pressure. As citizens we must take back what we have resignedly outsourced: the right to save our country from the jaws of the brutal regime that has dominated us for far too long. This is something we should do with pride knowing that we are doing that which is just, that which history and generations will remember as a leap that made us citizens and not prisoners in our land.

Each citizen can play a role from whatever their vantage point. There are those of us who will march the streets; there are many who will refuse to pay rates to municipalities which have not reciprocated what they loot from citizens by failing to provide services; and there are many who will withhold paying royalties and taxes to an unaccountable regime. We need to organize and mobilize in ways we have never done before. The tools are vast and we will depend on our shared creativity.

This is a national cause. All Zimbabweans, across our political, religious and social lines must realize we have more to benefit by being free and having enforceable rights. We need to be governed by an accountable government whose mandate is to advance the dignity and welfare of all.

Zimbabweans, the start might not be encouraging but victory is certain. All momentous struggles have been won by recording and valuing the sum efforts of every battle fought. We should take pride in knowing that we are on the right side of history and victory is certain. Let’s join hands and reclaim the country we love so much.

Dr. Lovemore Madhuku

NCA Chairperson

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