Despite the desperate attempts of Robert Mugabe to hold onto power, it is now clear that the people of Zimbabwe have voted to end his Presidential reign.
In the face of adversity, the human spirit has triumphed over oppression.
I am proud that, over the last few years, the SDLP has played a small role in supporting the Movement for Democratic Change. With support from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie travelled to Johannesburg to provide policy advice to the MDC and exchange information and expertise about conflict resolution.
The SDLP also welcomed two representatives, Nomore and Precious, from the MDC to the North of Ireland to meet political representatives.
Unfortunately, Nomore, died before he could witness the MDC triumph. The Assembly, Irish Government and the European Union must now seize this opportunity to provide financial support to the potential new MDC government in Zimbabwe.
As Carmel Hanna MLA said during the Assembly debate on International Development on Tuesday: "The truth is that, in our very small corner of the world, we started down the road of a resolution of our centuries-old differences by widening the context of our problems and starting to look outwards. As a society and a community, it is now our turn to give something back to those who are in a worse situation than we are. In other words, it is payback time." We have a responsibility to help rebuild the new Zimbabwe.
CLLR TIM ATTWOOD