Ranga Mataire, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has implored Zimbabweans to remain united, cherish peace and defend the country’s sovereignty and independence, saying these cardinal principles should not be sacrificed.
The President also emphasised the need for citizens and political parties to embrace the spirit of dialogue, inclusivity and tolerance to foster nation-building and spur economic development. President Mnangagwa also rallied Zimbabweans to put aside political differences and unite in celebrating this year’s Independence Day, saying all opposition political leaders must be free and proud to partake in the Uhuru celebrations.
In an exclusive interview with our Harare Bureau at State House yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the Independence Day celebrations were exclusively for Zimbabweans to reflect on moving the country forward.
“No, for this Independence celebration we have not,” he said when asked if he had invited regional leaders for the event. “We have agreed that it must be ours alone, we need to consolidate our vision with our people and move forward. It is true that in future we may begin to invite our colleagues within Sadc or outside to celebrate with us, but for this one we have made a decision that we should do it alone.”
Asked if Government had invited members of the opposition, the President said all parties would be treated with “dignity and the respect they deserve” during Independence commemorations.
“These are Zimbabweans, they are part of the machinery of Government, they are part of the machine, they are in Parliament, they are part of the institutions of the country, they are most welcome and we will give them the dignity and the respect they deserve. That is that but those who decide not come we will not force them to do what they do not want to do. This is the duty of democracy.”
In a separate embargoed interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) ahead of independence commemorations on Thursday, President Mnangagwa said this year’s Independence theme “Zimbabwe @39: Embracing Devolution for Vision 2030”, embodies Government’s commitment to vigorously implement decentralisation of power to local communities. He said Zimbabwe was a constitutional democracy that respects the provisions on devolution.
“We have put some money, which is around RTGS$310 million, which translate to a huge sum that is given to each province to deal with priority areas which they themselves as a province, as a locality, as local communities, think are priority in their area; hence, the Government thinks globally over the entire country and says we think this is a priority in Manicaland, this is priority in Mashonaland East, this is a priority in Mat North, but the people in Mat North themselves if given a budget, they have priorities different from those structured or crafted by central Government,” said President Mnangagwa.
He called on Zimbabweans to remain united, cherish peace and defend the country’s sovereignty and independence.
“Our people, our citizens and proud Zimbabweans of this country: One, let us remain united. Two, let us cherish our peace. Three, let us defend wherever we are, night and day, our sovereignty and our independence – it cannot be sacrificed or sold.
“This came to us through sacrifice. Many of our brothers and sisters gave a supreme sacrifice of their lives for us to enjoy this independence and sovereignty we enjoy today. So collectively and individually, let us protect our peace; let us protect our unity; let us protect our country; let us protect our resources (and) let us love each other,” he said.
On the issue of the Midlands and Matabeleland disturbances of early independence referred to as Gukurahundi, the President said his recent dialogue with a group calling itself Matabeleland Collective was very useful. He said it was during the conversation with the group that authorities discovered that they were not against the Government of the day but wanted certain concerns addressed.
“These are citizens of the country. I discovered that actually, it was unfortunate that in the past we did not entertain such dialogue. It’s very useful. We learnt a lot from that dialogue and in fact the differences are not critical. There are issues that are discussed and together craft a way of moving forward. We discovered that in fact they are not saying they don’t want the Government of the day. They are saying the Government of the day is failing us in this area and that area. And this is a platform where Government can explain itself and be able to appreciate the needs and priorities of the areas.
“Now the question of Gukurahundi. We don’t see, personally, I don’t see anything wrong in debating it on television, newspapers, on platforms – let us debate it. It was so an open debate that at the end of the day, in fact, we feared nothing. There was nothing to fear about the debate. Actually, it’s critical that we have that debate and as a result of that conversation we had, we have created a matrix of implementation of the ideas, which I have already sent out to deal with issues that were raised. Some of the issues that were raised could have been resolved a long time back. There is no single issue, in my view, that cannot be discussed and a way forward crafted.”
Turning to the issue of sanctions, President Mnangagwa said the sanctions were rejected by the United Nations Security Council for being outside the framework of the United Nations Charter.
“I know that the American people and the people of Zimbabwe, there is no quarrel between them. The quarrel is between the administration and us in Zimbabwe but I believe that as we move on and we continue to inform the Trump administration that there is no need to continue to have those sanctions which are hurting the ordinary person in this country. They say they are targeted, its’s nonsensical to say that they are targeted. These sanctions affect every citizen in Zimbabwe, it affects the economy of this country. So they are not targeted.”
More than 400 companies, he said, had closed because of sanctions. He, however, noted that his current efforts to attract investment to Zimbabwe will help create jobs.
He said: “I am happy however that there has been a reasonable positive response worldwide especially in the area of mining, in the area of agriculture, in the area of manufacturing and in the area of tourism.”
Government, he added, had created the One-Stop Investment Service Centre, which to be launched soon. Already, he said at least 59 projects have been approved. President Mnangagwa also emphasised the need for Zimbabweans to remain united.
“When I took office I said let bygones be bygones, I must live by that principle. We must not look back and live in the past let us endeavour to live today and try to work today to make tomorrow a better place for all Zimbabweans. My view is that let us differ on how to run Government, how to build a bridge, how to build a school, how to craft policy and how to run agriculture, let us differ. But we should all remain united. Zimbabwe is a unitary state we must remain united. It is my view that dialogue between people who do not agree is a good thing, it’s a therapy between contestants. From day one, I have said let us talk about our differences and move forward.”
The Independence Day main celebrations will held at the National Sports Stadium. Prepations are underway across the country at provincial and district level.