Farirai Machivenyika-Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe celebrated 41 years of independence yesterday with President Mnangagwa calling on Zimbabweans to be inspired by the occasion to preserve the gains of the liberation struggle.
This year’s truncated event was held at State House in line with Covid-19 containment regulations.
Cabinet ministers, senior Government officials, service chiefs, traditional leaders and members of opposition political parties attended the event but there was no participation by the general public at State House with the majority of Zimbabweans locally and abroad following on television or online
The celebrations were held under the theme: “Zimbabwe at 41: Together, Growing our Economy for a Prosperous, Resilient and Inclusive Society”.
In his address, President Mnangagwa touched on socio-economic issues affecting the country.
“As a sovereign nation and people, the occasion of our Independence Day is a constant reminder of the need to preserve, safeguard and protect our liberation war heritage and the rich history of our country,” he said.
“This is the foundation and hallmark of our nation, today and forever. We are holding this year’s celebrations with jubilation as our nation continues to register successes on many fronts.”
Commemoration of the day was a celebration of the victory of the liberation struggle and that the construction of Mbuya Nehanda’s statue in Harare was a reminder to future generations of the need to be serving the country wholeheartedly with loyalty.
This year’s event was initially scheduled to be held in Bulawayo in line with the spirit of devolution, but for the second year running, that had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 public health requirements.
President Mnangagwa said gatherings would only resume when the pandemic was over, but said the country would emerge stronger in the fight against the disease.
“Zimbabwe is grateful for the financial and material support and solidarity from friendly nations and development partners in our efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. I also commend the local private sector, individuals, institutions of higher learning, churches and other stakeholders for their support,” he said.
He thanked the dedication and sacrifice of frontline workers and security services and congratulated Zimbabweans for abiding by the national lockdown regulations and measures.
The recently launched nationwide vaccination programme would continue until herd immunity was reached and reassured Zimbabweans on the safety of the vaccines.
President Mnangagwa said as the Second Republic, his Government would not betray the cause of the liberation struggle that made many sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the country.
“Therefore, the signing of the Global Compensation Agreement on July 29, 2020, is a re-affirmation of the irreversibility of land reform as well as a symbol of our commitment to constitutionalism, the respect of the rule of law and property rights.
“As Zimbabweans, we must now all work together for increased production, productivity and profitability of the agriculture sector,” he said.
The GCA was signed with former commercial white farmers for compensation of the improvements made on the land that was compulsorily acquired for resettlement and is expected to bring to finality the land reform programme.
The President said it was encouraging that this year’s summer cropping season would witness a bumper harvest due to the good rains received and the swift implementation of the Presidential Climate Proofed Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme, Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, Command Agriculture, Presidential Horticulture Programme and initiatives by farmers.
“Treasury has set aside ZW$60 billion for the timely payment of farmers by the Grain Marketing Board.
“The usual grain collection depots will be complemented by mobile and fixed collection points throughout the country,” he said.
Government was also implementing programmes to improve livestock, mechanisation of farms and irrigation development through rehabilitation of old schemes and dam construction as a way of boosting agricultural productivity.
“Despite altered economic growth projections due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the reform agenda under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme realised indisputable successes. The successor programme, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), is now underway. The translation of NDS1 into 16 languages will enhance national vision sharing and robust implementation of the NDS 1 strategy,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Government continued to realise budget surpluses, record continuous decline in inflation while the foreign currency auction system has also enhanced transparency and accountability in the distribution and use of foreign currency.
The manufacturing sector, President Mnangagwa said, had remained resilient despite effects of the illegal sanctions, natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Locally produced goods and commodities now constitute a larger share of our country’s market shelves,” he said.
“In line with Government’s private sector led development we applaud industry for its positive response to the Local Content Strategy. This is reflective of the positive national sentiments on our economic growth potential, anchored on the Second Republic’s consistent and predictable policy environment.”
The resuscitation of strategic industries such as fertiliser, iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, leather manufacturing, as well as food and beverages was being accelerated.
Efforts were underway to transform the economy from an exporter of predominantly primary products to higher nodes of industrial development.
Turning to mining, the President said the industry was projected to rebound by 11 percent this year. Guided by the Strategy to achieve a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, programmes that include increased exploration, expansion of existing mines, resuscitation of closed mines and opening of new ones, beneficiation and value addition were being prioritised.
“Since 2020, the energy and power sector has witnessed relative stability in the supply of electricity and liquid petroleum products. Our quest to realise energy sufficiency is, therefore on course,” added said.
President Mnangagwa said the Hwange Power Station expansion with the new Unit 7 and Unit 8 set to add 600MW to the national grid, was now 61 percent of complete while 280MW would be restored when the overhaul of Unit 3 and refurbishment of Unit 6 were completed.
The approval of a US$310 million facility from India Exim Bank would see work to extend the lifespan of the power station start in earnest. Several other renewable energy projects were in the pipeline or at various stages of development.
“Our country is encouraged and optimistic about the immense possibilities as a result of oil and gas exploration in Muzarabani. This project will broaden the country’s energy matrix and have far reaching benefits to the economy as a whole,” he said.
On tourism, he said the Covid-19 pandemic had negatively affected the sector but the ongoing National Vaccination Programme offered hope for revival while incentives were being offered to increase domestic tourism under the Tourism ZimBhoo Campaign, including the provision of a Government guarantee to improve access to finance for further development of the sector.
President Mnangagwa said sound national infrastructure was an essential building block for sustainable economic development and growth and so Government had launched phase two of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme to repair roads and bridges affected by the heavy rains this year.
“With bolts and bars, brick upon brick and stone upon stone, we are rebuilding our great country. We are harnessing and effectively deploying our local resources and human capital to upgrade and modernise the country’s infrastructure,” President Mnangagwa said.
On social services, the President said the provision of health, water and sanitation, education and public transport, among others, remained at the core of Government policies.
“Accordingly, my Government’s health sector reforms have resulted in improved regulation, accountability, transparency and work ethic within the sector.
“Devolution funds have enabled the construction of suitable primary and secondary health care and education facilities throughout the country. Work is underway towards establishment of specialist medical facilities, including in prime tourist resorts,” the President said.
Government would continue looking at the needs of the disabled and provide them equal opportunities so that they play their part in the development of the country.
Government was committed to freedom of expression as seen by the recent licensing of six privately-owned television stations and six language-based community radio stations. He urged the new licence-holders to project diversity and plurality in the broadcasting sector and advance national identity.