Resuming the National Development Agenda
By President ED Mnangagwa
Thank you, Zimbabwe!
Our harmonised elections have come and gone, in the process extending ZANU PF’s governing mandate. I want to thank and express my profound gratitude to all the Zimbabweans who voted for our party, ZANU PF, and for me as your President.
In the same spirit and most of all, I heartily thank all of you, fellow Zimbabweans and compatriots, for cultivating, keeping and defending the peace before, during and after our harmonised elections. That peace which you painstakingly built and defended, today durably abides, and holds out hope for peaceful elections in future. I am convinced that we have turned the corner, resolutely abhorring and putting behind us the baneful cycle of political violence which used to convulse past elections, thus stereotyping and besmirching our nation. Indeed, that sad and regrettable past has been a rough teacher; it has delivered hard lessons which now stand heeded by all actors in our political society. Well done, Zimbabwe!
Keeping the peace
As our late Vice President John Landa Nkomo always used to remind us, peace is begot by you, by me and by all of us, acting in concert, and in the national interest. Going forward, all of us must now commit ourselves to transforming this milestone in our electoral affairs into an abiding gain firmly built into our collective personality, until we begin to take for granted our peace in all our future elections.
As I indicated in my inaugural speech, I am President for all Zimbabweans. I embark on my second term anchored and straitjacketed by the philosophy of an approachable, listening, servant leadership, committed to serving all Zimbabweans in equal measure, and to developing our nation so no one and no place is left behind.
Vision 2030 straddles three political terms, the first of which began in 2018 and ended this year, just before our Harmonised Elections. We have just begun the second term, which ends two years shy of 2030, the year our Vision is scheduled to run its full, programmed course.
This makes the current term decisive in actualising the broad goals of our Vision. My commitment is to ensure that our Vision is realised two years ahead of its due date. It is a pledge and hope arising from a hard-headed look at what, together, we have been able to accomplish in the last five years which have gone by. The progress has been both foundational and phenomenal, thus justifying my optimism, and making the realisation of our Vision quite feasible. I know that with greater will and focus, we are able to quicken our development pace, thus hastening the realisation of all our goals.
Nyika inotongwa, igovakwa uye igonamatirwa nevene vayo!
Changing rural Zimbabwe
A key test to genuine realisation of Vision 2030 will be our rural areas, where over 60 percent of our people live. Our rural communities measure the depth and breadth of lack of even development, and the cost of rural exclusion in development. Shunned by successive colonial governments, our rural areas are a sample of denied development which gave rise to rural underdevelopment we inherited from colonialism.
Lifting millions out of rural poverty
Except all this need not remain so. We cannot continue to blame our colonial past for rural ills. It is as if we doubt our own agency as makers of an alternative history which lift our people and communities. Our nation must change course by taking responsibility over these rural backwaters which we now must challenge through a new model of development.
Time has now come to go beyond community development for a comprehensive programme of rural capacitation and empowerment. Towards the tail-end of the just-ended term, I broached the idea of rural transformation and empowerment through rural industrialisation. This is our panacea to rural underdevelopment. That idea’s time has now come and, going forward, rural Industrialisation must now become the centrepiece of our development plans. We must lift millions living in our rural areas out of poverty, as envisaged by our Vision. The People’s Republic of China, PRC, provides an inspiring example and salutary lessons.
Mobilising factors for rural development
All the factors for rural development through vibrant rural agriculture and rural industrialisation must now be put in place. These include water, electricity, irrigation systems, input support schemes, extension services, road network, access to markets, and, of course, adequate social services infrastructure.
These vital enablers should be in place in all our rural communities so that we begin our broad and encompassing programme of sustainable rural industrialisation, informed by factor endowments and activities possible in each community. Government will be a lead actor in this process, including in chaperoning community value chains which we now envisage under this policy.
Building a competitive manufacturing base
Tomorrow I shall be addressing captains of industry and leaders of business in our resort city, Victoria Falls.
Together, we should be able to agree on a common programme of economic action designed to take our nation forward, building on the gains recorded in the past five years. A lot was achieved, creating a firm pedestal for sustained economic growth. I will emphasise production and productivity in industry and across sectors, including vigorous pursuit of clear and efficient value chains which make our economy a competitive manufacturer and exporter.
Our mining sector continues to do well. We need to nudge it further forward, towards greater local value addition to enhance our earnings. Our tourism, too, continues to record buoyant growth, and to witness new projects. There will be greater investments on all our gateways and major roads, for ease of business and travel. Our railway system will be rehabilitated and equipped. Prudent fiscal and monetary policies will continue to be pursued for macroeconomic stability. All these issues and many others will come under spotlight at this retreat, so a comprehensive agenda is agreed upon and adopted.
New desire to engage, partner
My trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, informed by contacts I made with representatives of key partners, gave me great hope that our engagement and re-engagement policies are beginning to yield positive results. There is now an appetite to engage and partner Zimbabwe, including in hitherto coy Western capitals. Indeed, a growing realisation that the more than two decades of illegal sanctions have cost both sides enormously, and that such hostile policies must now give way to gainful bilateral cooperation. Zimbabwe remains a friend to all and an enemy to none. Equally, Zimbabwe will never forget its friends who stood by it through thick and thin. These will always enjoy a pride of place in our decisions and policies.
Believing in Zimbabwean talent
Particularly exhilarating were my contacts with leading Zimbabwean experts now working for key industries abroad. As groups and as individuals, they expressed their readiness to come back home and to share experiences and expertise which they have garnered over the years they have been abroad. One project deserves particular mention. A group of Zimbabwean scientists are very keen to establish a Biotechnological Hub back home. This is to be applauded. I promised them full support, including free land for the project. We must show faith, confidence and belief in our own people, many of whom drive key research and development projects in several multinational organisations. We must make them feel welcome back home so they contribute to Zimbabwe’s development.
Tackling urban food insecurity
Let me conclude by announcing a new programme we are set to launch for our citizens in urban and peri-urban areas.
Government has noted growing instances of food insecurity affecting urban and peri-urban households. To address this worrisome problem affecting these wage-dependent households, Government has now decided to extend its free agricultural input scheme to all households living in urban and peri-urban areas. Already, many such families have been working the land by utilising free spaces in and around our towns and cities for agricultural purposes, even then without Government support. Starting this season, that support is now forthcoming from Government so such households are not left behind and are made food secure.
Thank you, our farmers
To our farmers, big and small, the summer season is already upon us. We must begin preparations for yet another successful agricultural season.
I am very happy that our wheat farmers have done exceedingly well, guaranteeing us yet another record wheat crop. Many countries in SADC and on our African continent are already making enquiries in respect of different cereals.
Looking in the crystal ball, I see our agricultural exports growing in leaps and bounds; indeed, becoming a veritable foreign exchange earner for our economy. We must keep raising our targets, now that we have achieved the foundational target of becoming a food-secure nation.