|The Zimbabwe Debate
Zimbabwe: Look East Policy Healthy - Mugabe
As we are aware, Independence Day is one of the special, indelible days in our history as a country, a day that cannot lose its value nor its importance, for it stands unchanging as a signal of our victory over imperialism, colonialism and racial subjugation. Because of this historic day, first celebrated in April 1980, our people cannot be regarded, much less, treated, as second –class citizens, in their land anymore.
Mugabe in China. The look East policy is adding value to Zimbabwe- Mugabe
Gradually over the years, in different, phased programmes, and as a united people, we have transformed that political independence which came on the 18th of April 1980 and raised it onto the next step of economically empowering our people. We are not dreamers anymore –we are now masters of our destiny. My gratitude and that of the leaders goes to the people of Zimbabwe, who have refused to be divided by the same enemy they encountered yesterday who, today, like the cunning wolf, comes in sheep’s clothing.
We can never forget the difficulties and the barbarous treatment that marked the road to the freedom we enjoy today. It was long, bloody arduous and protracted. It thus took commitment , focus and great sacrifices for our people to effect the complete liberation of this country which Ian Smith had, in his small mind, thought could never be ruled by blacks – certainly, not in a thousand years as he had proclaimed. Oh, yes, our sons and daughters backed by their mothers and fathers, scarred physically and emotionally, fought valiantly to dislodge the strongly fortified and arrogant racist settler regime. All of us in this country, whatever our ethnic and cultural backgrounds are proud inheritors of that legacy of total sovereign independence, with all its freedoms and ownership of natural resources.
Sovereign independence also imposes on us certain obligations and responsibilities as leaders and as ordinary citizens. Thus the security and welfare of every citizen needs to be guaranteed at every stage of our development. Every one of us has the right to life. In this regard, government must fight hunger. Government is aware that while the early rains initially raised the prospects of a good harvest, many parts of the country subsequently succumbed to a devastating dry spell. Provinces such as Masvingo, Matabeleland South and North, parts of Manicaland and Mashonaland East will require some food assistance. Government has accordingly decided that the Grain Loan Scheme and the Free Assistance Programme will be extended until next season in order to assist those of our people in food insecure areas.
As a precautionary measure, government has set aside funding for food shortage mitigation programmes in the affected areas. Government also continues to enhance social safety net programmes targeting children, particularly orphaned and vulnerable, children.
The initiative to create a peaceful environment has recorded some success and those leading the process should be commended for a job well done. Peace is an inevitable pre-requisite for sustainable development in the country. To this extent, all political party leaders should encourage their supporters to promote the spirit of peace, tranquility and harmony through social dialogue.
Finalization of the Constitution-making Process needs to be hastened. The Principals sin the Global Political Agreement will be examining the Draft Constitution so it can soon be put before the people in a Referendum marking the beginning of a definite process towards general elections this year.
Efforts to create the necessary environment for rapid and sustainable economic growth have been thwarted by the continued illegal sanctions imposed by Britain, the United States of America, the European Union and other Western nations. This has in turn frustrated the steady economic recovery efforts through impediments to Zimbabwe’s access to world commodity markets and critical concessionary funding facilities which are important for rehabilitating infrastructure, industry and the importation of essential industrial raw materials and spare parts.
It is in this context that we call upon those responsible for imposing these sanctions to urgently remove them unconditionally. On this very important matter, we should speak with one voice as a nation.
Notwithstanding the challenges we have endured, I am happy that the economy has continued to register positive economic performance. Last year, growth was estimated at 9.3 percent underpinned mainly by agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism and financial services. Production of major commodities in agriculture, which included tobacco, cotton, livestock and Soya beans, recorded a significant rise.
In manufacturing, capacity utilisation levels which averaged 38 percent in 2010 peaked at around 54 percent last year. This development resulted in the further availability of locally produced goods on the domestic market. To further stimulate industrial growth and development, government simultaneously launched the Industrial Development Policy (2012-2016) and the National Trade Policy (2012-2016) last month. The Industrial Development Policy will provide new impetus for industrialisation and sustainable industrial development by promoting value addition for both domestic and export markets and align the country with global trends. The National Trade Policy is expected to provide the framework for all trade negotiations and agreements for the country at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
Mining continues to be on an upward trend, as reflected by increases in the production of gold, platinum, diamonds and coal. We need more facilities for the local processing of our mineral output in order to maximise on value and to provide employment for our people.
As a major sign of confidence in our tourism industry, Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to co-host the 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls next year. Preparations to host this very important occasion are at an advanced stage. I would like to urge the nation to support the initiative as it carries immense benefits through new investments, employment creation and income generation. This year, Zimbabwe will conduct its fourth Census, from the 18th to the 28th of August 2012. The main aim of the Census is to provide demographic and socio-economic data required in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of development plans and programmes. I wish to call upon every Zimbabwean to fully support this process and ensure that we have a successful 2012 National Population Census.
The recent launch of the Presidential –eLearning Programmes at Chogugudza Primary School in Mashonaland East Province is clear testimony to Government’s commitment to providing quality education to our children. Throughout 2012 and beyond, Government will intensify the introduction of the Programme at our schools, tertiary institutions and universities.
The implementation of the indigenisation and empowerment policy continues to gather momentum through the implementation of various programmes such as the community Share Ownership Schemes which ensure that communities benefit from the resources found in their areas. Such Schemes have been established at Zimplats, to cater for Zvimba-Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu, the Unki and Mimosa Schemes in Shurugwi and Zvishavane and the Schweppes Employee Scheme. The Small and mediu7m Enterprises sector (SMEs) will continue to receive Government attention for the potential it has towards poverty eradication and the empowerment of communities.
Government takes the welfare of its employees seriously and is committed to improving their conditions of service in tandem with improvements in the economy. To this end, the Civil Service Housing Loan Facility has been re-introduced and will help civil servants to acquire houses and stands on a home ownership basis.
In the health sector, the number of people on anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/Aids increased to 410 000 last October. Malaria control programmes now cover 89 percent in 45 target districts while immunisation of children exceeded 85 percent. Loss of critical health staff such as doctors and specialist nurses to the private sector is adversely affecting health delivery.
To meet the growing demand for higher education, preparations have begun for the establishment of the Marondera University of Agriculture Science in Mashonaland East; Manicaland University of Applied Sciences and the Gwanda State University in Matabeleland South. In this way, we would have brought on board the three remaining provinces that were still to have a State university each.
Zimbabwe’s foreign policy objective is anchored on safeguarding the country’s hard-won Independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. In pursuit of these core values, Zimbabwe continues to strengthen and further deepen its relations with various countries in the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the African Union, Asia and Latin America through the framework of strategic bilateral Joint Commissions and regional cooperation meetings. The Look East policy is an important consideration on our agenda as it continues to bear fruit both politically and economically.
On the international front, Zimbabwe is concerned that some Western countries continue to abuse the United Nations Security Council and regional organizations in pursuit of subtle and dirty regime change agendas under the guise of supporting democracy, rule of law and human rights.
In this context, Zimbabwe will continue to call for the urgent reform of the United Nations Security Council to make it more representative of the majority of Member States.
The commitment of our defense and security forces to maintaining peace and security in Zimbabwe and beyond is always applauded. I wish to encourage them to carry on the good work in various local, regional and international peace-keeping United Nations and African Union assignments.
Now, as we look forward to the coming years, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to wish our dear nation a happy 32nd Independence Day Anniversary!
By H.E. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe.
Comment on this article!