Zimbabwe: Let unity be our watchword -- President
Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2008
Full text of the address by His Excellency the President, Comrade R.G. Mugabe, on the occasion of the 28th Independence Anniversary held at Gwanzura Stadium yesterday.
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Honourable Vice President Comrade Joseph Msika, Honourable Vice President Comrade Joice Mujuru and Baba Solomon Mujuru, Mai Muzenda, President of the Senate Mai Edna Madzongwe, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and Mai Chidyausiku, Members of the Politburo and Central Committee of Zanu-PF;
Members of the Senate and House of Assembly, Service Chiefs, Chairperson of the Harare City Commission Engineer Michael Mahachi;
Families of Heroes of Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle, War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Detainees and Restrictees;
Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Esteemed Foreign Guests and Visitors;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Comrades and Friends,
I am most delighted to welcome all of you to the main celebrations of our country’s 28th Anniversary of Independence; mainly, because various other gatherings with a similar theme are being held all over the country. Our political history is well known yet, with time, we feel more challenged to recall it, especially for those who appear ignorant of it or are deliberately engaged in reversing the gains of our liberation struggle. It was on the 18th of April in 1980 that, after a triumphant and unyielding struggle by our people, our great Nation finally shook off the chains of British racist settler colonialism and became free and independent assuming, thereby full sovereignty over the country and its resources.
We, not the British, established democracy based on one person one vote, democracy which rejected racial or gender discrimination and upheld human rights and religious freedom.
Literally overnight, Government began a process of transforming and expanding the range and nature of opportunities that had not been available to the majority of the people. In short, the advent of an independent Zimbabwe restored dignity to our people. That, Comrades and Friends, is the essence of our celebrations here, indeed, the very core of it. No challenge or hardship can ever overcome the sense of being independent. For that reason, let us take pride as we renew our independence joy in loudly proclaiming that Zimbabwe, this our Zimbabwe, shall never be a colony again.
An honest appreciation of where we came from is vitally important for us in order to understand the need, indeed the obligation, to jealously guard our sovereignty and freedom. This understanding bids us as Zimbabweans, across our different political party lines, to always uphold the supreme sacrifice paid by our heroes, both departed and living, in high esteem.
Today, we need to maintain utmost vigilance in the face of the vicious machinations by our detractors. Whereas yesterday they relied on brute force to subjugate our people and plunder our resources, today, they have perfected their tactics to more subtle forms, as they, through money as a weapon, literally buy some of our people to turn against their Government, and accept to be politically manipulated in abandoning their rights. This is what is called the advent of neo-colonialism.
We should all be clear that regime change does not only refer to the illegal removal of our present Government and those personalities seen as sympathetic to Government. Britain’s endgame is to erase the history of our Liberation Struggle and craftily devise ways of installing a puppet leadership that will restore white supremacy in our country. Let us be wary that their weapons of mass deception do not hoodwink us into reckless political adventurism that will only leave our land and its resources in the hands of our erstwhile colonisers. Every Zimbabwean should, therefore, count it joy, indeed, justifiable social justice, that the Land Reform Programme, which has given more of our people access to the means of production, is irreversible and a happy outcome of our democracy. Yes, our Independence should in every way be an opportunity and avenue to economically empower our people. With the passage of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, we will be able to now explore and utilise opportunities in the mining, manufacturing and tourism sectors.
We continue to face several challenges largely emanating from the unwarranted and illegal sanctions imposed on us by Britain and her cronies as punishment for our Land Reforn1 Programme. This is the more reason why our new farmers should aim for maximum productivity on their pieces of land. Barring the unpredictable cycles of the weather patterns, we need to profitably use the farms in order to address most of the challenges in the economy. We plan this winter season to apply this view as we maximise the growing of wheat. With better economic performance, we can improve our exports and hence foreign currency earnings; raise our capacity for social services delivery, especially in health, education and transport for the commuting public. The prevailing situation of planned shortages of basic commodities has given rise to corruption, further bleeding our economic performance.
In response to these challenges, Government has, in the last year, implemented several measures aimed at stabilising the economy and, therefore, containing some of the negative effects of the crippling sanctions. In order to work towards food security at the national and household levels, Government has vigorously pursued measures to augment the country’s food reserves by importing grain from neighbouring countries to boost domestic reserves. While the programme at times is slow, inflows of maize and wheat continue to be received.
Government has continued to strengthen agricultural production capacity by providing the necessary machinery and equipment to all categories of our farmers as demonstrated by the Agricultural Mechanisation Programme. The sector also continued to be prioritised in terms of resource allocation through the Agriculture Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF). Other measures such as the improvement of skills and farm management through compulsory farm training and the elimination of the abuse of inputs support are afoot.
Government feels concerned about the suffering of the people due to the contrived non-availability of some goods and also the extortionate prices of basic and essential commodities in the shops. To avert the collapse of industry, Government last year introduced a series of bold measures, such as the establishment of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission in order to ensure the realistic pricing of goods and services. Other interventions, led by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, have seen an improvement in capacity utilisation in industry, in some cases from as low as 10 percent to improved capacities of up to 65 percent.
Government has also intensified the implementation of the Look East Policy, which has resulted in the deepening of co-operation with countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and India. The benefits of this policy initiative have already been seen in certain sectors of the economy.
A sustained increase in productivity and the promotion of exports in the various sectors of our economy remains the key lever in efforts to tame inflation. Accordingly, I would like to encourage local companies to exhibit at this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in order to enhance their chances of becoming global players. Local industry should also take a long-term global competitive perspective and undergo a shift from being commodity exporters to exporters of value-added secondary and tertiary goods instead.
Our Nation, like the rest of the sub-region, has witnessed unprecedented power cuts due to a high demand for electricity. This has had negative effects on households and industry. Government has taken measures to expand the Kariba Power Station, with two additional units of 150 megawatts each while elsewhere, work has been taking place on the Gokwe North Coal-Fired Power Station, with a capacity to produce 1 400MW. A bio-diesel manufacturing plant, commissioned at Mount Hampden late last year, has already yielded over 100 000 litres of the fuel. A massive nationwide jatropha-growing programme to provide feedstock for this and future provincial bio-diesel plants is already underway, while the blending of petrol with ethanol is set to commence towards the end of this month, following completion of the refurbishment of the ethanol plant at Triangle.
Government remains concerned with the plight of both our rural and urban commuters owing to unreliable and escalating costs of transport. Zupco continues to provide a valuable service to both rural and urban commuters and this is expected to be strengthened by Government’s acquisition of 184 minibuses under the National Transport Enhancement Programme. Charging half of Zupco fares, this programme is set to further improve the public transportation situation. Each of the rural provinces has received 23 of these buses and the allocation is expected to eventually rise to 35 buses per province as the remainder of the buses are now available.
Government is keenly aware of the difficulties endured by the people in urban areas, in regard to accessing reliable and clean water supplies. In response to the problem, and to avoid costly chemicals, plans are afoot for Zinwa to enter into mutually beneficial partnerships to boost the local production of water treatment chemicals.
The country continues to experience high levels of skills flight, especially to South Africa, owing to the opportunities available there, and the prevailing challenges in our economy. This naturally impacts negatively on the quality of public service delivery. This is being addressed in a number of ways, which include the constant review of salaries and wages of public servants, programmes designed to retain critical skills, and the provision of accommodation and affordable transport. Government is currently building houses for civil servants under the Civil Service Housing Fund. Several co-operative schemes for enhancing housing accommodation are already in existence and many more are being planned.
In the health sector, some institutional accommodation for doctors and nurses will be provided. Indeed, it is in this context that I recently launched the Medical Sector Skills Retention Programme in Harare, to revitalise the health sector through the provision of modern equipment, drugs and incentives to medical personnel countrywide. Under the first phase of the programme, Government bought 510 cars for distribution to senior and middle level doctors, 97 ambulances, 88 generators and 52 buses, all worth US$8,7 million.
Parastatals have also been called to assist with housing provision, with NSSA currently leading the way. In the past 12 months, NSSA has serviced 699 high-density stands and constructed 143 houses under the Marondera-Rusike Housing Project and a further 394 medium-density stands under the Glaudina Housing Project near Snake Park. A total of 16 multi-purpose community centres are also being constructed throughout the country to facilitate co-ordination of community development projects.
Government has not ignored other social ills such as child abuse and the incidence of corruption. Accordingly, Government has put in place measures to strengthen a Child Abuse Prevention Programme in schools and in the community, while the fight against corruption and other economic crimes has intensified, as witnessed by the number of cases before our courts. The HIV/Aids awareness programmes have also been strengthened with a bias towards encouraging behaviour change.
On the international arena, we have continued to enjoy strong relations with our partners in the region, on the continent as a whole and with progressive nations throughout the world. We continue to deepen such relationships in the region through Sadc, and on the continent through the African Union. Our imminent chairmanship of Comesa should bolster our efforts to forge stronger ties within that community and with other regional communities.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank our Sadc family for clearly articulating our case on the harmonised elections we held last month. The elections, which were premised on Sadc guidelines and run by the independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission took place against the backdrop of the Sadc-brokered inter-party dialogue involving Zanu-PF and the two MDC political formations.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the various political parties, contestants and their supporters on displaying political maturity and tolerance in the period leading up to the elections. This peace and stability should be maintained as our law enforcement agencies will quickly restore law and order where these are threatened. In the same vein, I wish to register the country’s appreciation of the work done by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other Security Forces on ensuring that peace prevailed during the entire elections period. You have defeated the designs of those who still continue to agitate for anarchy and violence amongst our people.
The challenges we face as a Nation should fortify the heroic spirit in us and inspire us to even greater heights of sacrifice for our country and the long-term prosperity of our people. Through it all, we should emerge stronger, and more united than ever before. Let us nurture and promote the spirit of dialogue and collaboration in all our endeavours.
In conclusion, I wish to thank all our people for their resilience in the face of the prevailing harsh economic conditions. Let us continue to exhibit such fortitude of mind and allow for the peaceful conclusion of whatever remains of our electoral process.
Let unity and more unity be our watchword.
May God bless our Nation.
Amhlophe! Makorokoto! Congratulations on our 28th Independence Anniversary.
I thank you!
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