Fungi Kwaramba Political Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has called for equal access to Covid-19 vaccines saying although the pandemic has caused major setbacks all hope was not lost.
In a pre-recorded address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) being held in hybrid format in New York, the President said the silver lining in the global plague was that the world now values the importance of forming a united front.
He said there shouldn’t be any room for discrimination as the world seeks to recover from the pandemic that has killed more than 4 million people globally.
This year the 76th session of the UN is being convened under the theme “Building Resilience Through Hope to Recover from Covid-19, Rebuild Sustainably, Respond to the Needs of the Planet, Respect the Rights of People and Revitalise the United Nations”, a subject the President said resonates well with the current needs of the world.
“The 76th session is convening against the backdrop of the persistent Covid-19 pandemic. However, all hope is not lost. Drawing from the collective milestones achieved to date, enhanced multilateralism and unity of purpose remain critical in mitigating this global health emergency.
‘‘The hoarding and inequitable distribution with the resultant uneven vaccination patterns across the globe is not acceptable. Vaccine nationalism is self-defeating and contrary to the mantra that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Whether in the global North or South, rich or poor, old or young, all peoples of the world deserve access to vaccines,” the President said.
In Africa, Zimbabwe leads the way through a free and voluntary vaccination programme that has seen more than 10 percent of the population being vaccinated by September as per the expectation of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Through partnerships with other countries and also tapping from its resources, Zimbabwe has largely been successful in curtailing the spread of the contagion, something that has ensured that the country’s economy will grow by more than 7,8 percent, the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need to build resilient economies and societies that are able to cope in times of shocks and hazards. The pandemic has necessitated the need for us to build back, better and greener, to emerge stronger.
“We must restore dignity and hope, particularly for our women, youth, and the vulnerable, who look to us for inspiration and assurance that their well-being and future remains at the core of all our endeavours,” he said.
Zimbabwe, the President said, like all world nations has not been spared by the effects of climate change, which have been accompanied by adverse weather patterns such as cyclones.
“For us in Zimbabwe, eradicating poverty and eliminating hunger remains a top priority. Climate change and resultant erratic weather patterns, growing populations, coupled with the effects of the pandemic on food supply chains, demand a shift from our traditional food production, processing, distribution, and consumption systems.
“My Government has established a firm foundation for sustained food production through the land redistribution programme as well as increased support for communal and small-holder farmers. This has led to broader and sustainable incomes for the majority of people living in rural areas who now contribute to the increased levels of household and national food and nutrition security.”
He told the Assembly that Zimbabwe is pursuing Vision 2030 to become an upper middle class economy by 2030 which will ensure sustainable development that leaves no one behind and which has since created decent jobs and reduced inequalities.
The President said expanded economic opportunities for all citizens regardless of location have already started yielding results, while increased health coverage and access to education will also lead to broader development.
“The Voluntary National Review further highlighted progress made in supporting productive employment, decent work, and the formalisation of the informal sector.
“My administration continues to entrench democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law through sound legislation as well as fair and impartial administration of justice. This is indicative of our strides to achieve sustainable development by 2030. We remain available to share experiences for mutual benefit.
“My Government recognises and applauds the complementary role that the private sector, development partners, civil society organisations and other stakeholders play in the realisation of SDGs in Zimbabwe.
“Speaking on challenges faced in achieving SDGs, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the vulnerability of our economy which is already crippled by the adverse effects of unilateral illegal sanctions imposed on my country. Sanctions have further worsened our capacity to respond to the pandemic for the good of our citizens,” he said.
The country is presently groaning under the yoke of illegal sanctions imposed by the United States and its Western allies.
To ensure that the world has an appreciation of the devastating effects that the sanctions have caused on Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa told the General Assembly that his administration has invited the UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights to visit the country next month.
“This will afford the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to witness first-hand, the devastating impact of these illegal sanctions on my country. We reiterate our call for the urgent unconditional removal of these illegal sanctions,” he said.
On October 25, Zimbabwe will be joined by other progressive nations across the world in a united call for the unconditional removal of the illegal economic sanctions that have choked the country’s development for over two decades now.
“We are committed to engagement, re-engagement, and peaceful co-existence, and to be a friend to all and an enemy to none as we build an equal partnership for win-win cooperation and a common future,” the President said.
Turning to global peace and security, the President said the terrorism, illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, transnational organised crime, cybercrime and illicit financial flows pose a threat towards realising sustainable peace, security and stability.
“We remain alarmed by the global rise in racial tensions, violence and hate crimes. Twenty years after the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the socio-economic and political structures that encourage, promote and justify racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances must be torn down.
“The recent adoption of the resolution establishing the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent is commendable. The Forum must inspire all of us to build a world which harnesses our racial diversities for global peace, harmony and sustainable development.”
The President also reiterated his call for the reform of the UN Security Council and slated attempts by some nations to encroach into some organs of the UN.
“The increased challenges facing the world today call for stronger solidarity and a renewed commitment to strengthen multilateralism, as a viable mechanism for achieving and maintaining peace, security, equality, justice, sustainable economic development and the protection of our environment,” he said.
On the 20th Anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the President said it was shocking that on this day racism still manifests.
“Yet again, we emphatically pronounce our abhorrence to the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is, however, disheartening that after two decades, there is now a shocking upsurge of new forms of racism, related discrimination and intolerance as well as supremacist tendencies.”