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Zimbabwe’s new president ED Mnangagwa’s inaugural address: Hope springs

LONDON — After decades of isolation, Zimbabwe’s new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa is desperate for his country to rejoin the world’s family of nations because “isolation has never been splendid nor viable.” In a potent presidential inaugural address today, Mnangagwa fulfilled hopes of the growing army of optimists. He promises to put the rejuvenation of Zimbabwe’s agriculture at the centre of a plan to create “job, jobs, jobs.” He has committed the once socialist country to becoming a market-driven economy which attracts foreign capital by promising that “all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe.” As part of this he committed to attacking corruption and applying “swift justice” wherever it is found: “Grief awaits those who depart from the process of clean business practices. We have an economy to recover and a people to serve.” Hope springs. – Alec Hogg

In acknowledging the honour you have bestowed upon me I recognise that the urgent tasks that beckon will not be accomplished through speeches. I must hit the ground running. We all need to summon and unleash in constant powers taking this great nation beyond where our immediate past president left it. For close to two decades this country went through many developments. Whilst we cannot change the past there is a lot we can do in the present and the future to give our nation a different positive direction. As we do so, we should never remain all stages of our past. I thus humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones. Greatly embracing each other in defining a new destiny of our beloved Zimbabwe.

The task at hand is that of rebuilding our great country and the principle lies with no one but ourselves to do so. I implore you all to declare that never again, never again should the circumstances that have put Zimbabwe in an insufferable position be allowed to recur. We must work together, you, me, and all of us who make up this nation. Ours is a great country adorned with rich resources and abound in many opportunities for everyone who considers Zimbabwe as a home. Whilst I’m aware that emotions and expectations might be high and be mixed, I have no doubt that over time we will appreciate the solid foundation laid by my predecessor, against all manner of these institutes towards building an educated, skilled and forgiving society.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s president elect, center, and his wife, Auxilia Mnangagwa, acknowledge the crowd as they arrive for his presidential inauguration ceremony at the National Sport Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Mnangagwa said democratic elections will be held on time next year and pledged to lead the revival of the economically distressed southern African nation. Source: Bloomberg

This is a formidable head start we’ve drawn from our past. A privilege upon which to build developments in the present and to erect hopes for the future. Fellow countrymen, Zimbabweans, as we charge our way forward we must accept that our challenges as a nation emanate, in part, from the manner in which we have managed our politics, both nationally and internationally. However, given our historical realities we wish the rest of the world to understand and appreciate that the policies and programs related to land reform were inevitable. Whilst there is a lot we may need to do by way of outcomes the principle of repossessing our land can not be challenged or reversed.

The dispensation of our ancestral lands was the fundamental reason for work in the liberation struggle. It would be a betrayal of the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives if we were to reverse the gains we have made in reclaiming our land. Therefore, I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform program to show that by demonstrating commitments to the utilisation of the land now available to them for national food security and for the recovery of our economy. They must take advantage of programs that my government shall continue to avail to ensure that all land is utilised optimally. To that end, my government will capacitate the Land Commission so that it is seized with all outstanding issues related to land redistribution. My government is committed to compensating those farmers from whom land was taken in terms of our law of lands.

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As we go into the future complex issues of land determining will have to be addressed, both urgently and definitively. We dare not predicate on this key issue. Events leading to this historic day attest to the fact that we are a unique nation. One which is clear about what it wants and what it does not want. Ordinarily many nations, including those in the developed world would not have ended with the sort of outcome we celebrate today. Credit goes to every Zimbabwean and my predecessor, who invested a lot towards a peaceful resolution of the challenges of the situation that had arisen in our country.

From events preceding this occasion we stand apart as a unique nation driven by neutral tolerance, peace and unity, which we have displayed in the past few weeks. This is a one-knitted world, indeed a proud page we have added to the science of conflict resolution and settlement. That peace and harmony should be characteristic of how we relate to one another before, during, and after the 2018 harmonised democratic elections next year. I’m committing to you today that these elections will be held as scheduled. Today, however, the Republic of Zimbabwe renews itself. My government will work towards ensuring that the peers of democracy in our land has strengthened and respected. We fully reaffirm our membership of the family of nations and express our commitment to playing our part in all regional, continental, and international organisations and arrangements in order to make our modest contribution towards a prosperous and a peaceful world order.

We subscribe and affirm the principle where all nations of the world are equal and sovereign partners working towards the maintenance of world peace as collectively challenged under the United Nations charter. Here, at home, we must however, appreciate the fact that over the years our domestic politics have become poisoned and rancorous and polarising. My goal is to persuade and preside over a policy and the right administration that recognises the strength in our diversity as a people. Hoping that this position, a world meant stance, will be reciprocated and radiated to cover all our crooks, organisations and communities. We dare not squander the moment. Whatever we do or choose not to do must be intended to benefit all our people.

Above all, we must always remember and realise that we hold and run this country in trust. It belongs to future generations, whose possibilities must never be foreclosed or mortgaged as a result of decisions of expediency. The values of unity and peace challenged by all Zimbabweans are the enduring foundations for the desired goal of development. It’s the third pillar of the trinity – unity, peace, and development inspired by my parties and peers. Our economic policy will be predicated on our agriculture, our command agriculture, which is the mainstay and on creating conditions for investment, land economic recovery that puts a premium on job creation.

Key choices will have to be made to attract foreign direct investment to tackle high levels of unemployment while transforming our economy. The main skilled Zimbabweans who have left the country over the years for a variety of reasons, must now come into the broad economic calculous designed for our recovery and take-off as a nation. Of course, the fiscal and the social infrastructure must be repaired and expanded to position our country in readiness for economic growth, employment creation, equity, freedom, and democracy, and for the provision for vital social goals, principally health, shelter, clean water, education, and other key social services. Our quest for economic development must be premised on our timeless goal to establish and sustain a just and equitable society, firmly based on our historical cultural and social experience. As well as on our aspirations for better lives for all our people.

Our system of economic organisation and management will incorporate elements of the market economy in which enterprise is allowed, encouraged, and protected. The fabulous natural resources we have as a country must now be exploited for the national good. We welcome mutually, gainful partnerships with international investors, whose presence in our midst must be valued and secured. The bottom line is an economy which is back on its feet. Only in that way can we recover this economy, create jobs for our youths and reduce poverty, for all our people who must witness real positive changes in our lives.

In the immediate future the liquidity challenges, which we have with the economy must be tackled head-on with real solutions being generated as a matter of urgency. People must be able to access their earnings and their savings as and when they need them. As we focus on recovering our economy we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline, which have been characterised in the past. Acts of corruption must stop. Where these occur, swift justice must be served. We have to aspire to be a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards. On these ideals my administration declares full commitment, warning that grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and a clean business.

To our civil servants – it cannot be ‘business as usual.’ You now have to roll up your sleeves in readiness and deliver. We have an economy to recover, a people to serve, each and every one of us must now earn their hour, their day, their week, and their month at work. Gone are the days of absenteeism, days of endured delays and forestalling decisions and services in the hope of extorting dirty rewards – those days are over. A new culture must now inform and animate our daily conduct. Our offices must speedily answer questions and generate solutions, awaited by our customers. Today our citizens, or well-meaning outsiders who want to join in our economic recovery – flexibility must be built in our operations so that the machine of government does not become one huge ponderous stumbling block to decisions that must be made and communicated expeditiously. The culture of government must change, and change now.

zimbabwe flag

Recognising the pivotal role that exports play in generated and much needed foreign currency, government will ensure relaxation of export procedures whilst vigorously ensuring the reduction of all costs associated with the conduct of international trade. Established structurally economic zones will be accelerated in order to attract investment and increase exports. The maintenance of economic stability and confidence amongst the transacting public, the local business community and foreign investors remains clearly to our reform agenda. My government will ensure financial sector viability and stability. We will put in place measures that in current savings through big deposits and other appropriate financial instruments, which brings fair rewards to depositors. The current built in culture where costs are levied on depositors must come to an end.

To reduce the high-country risk perception among existing and prospective investors, government will henceforth ensure that its domestic and internal debt obligations are serviced. This will apply to the whole of government, including local authorities and the state-owned enterprises. In addition, my government will proactively curb externalisation of foreign currency and the smuggling of goods. The country’ has got their management under control and  the systems will be strengthened. I intend to approach security issues from a broad human, physical and social perspective. All citizens must feel secure and enjoy a sense of belonging in their land. All activities that national security institutions aim to achieve must be focussed on overall human security. To include, among others, security from disease, hunger, and employment illiteracy and extreme poverty. We must pay equal attention to all these areas. Enhancing the capabilities of our security services so that they are able to deal decisively with all freights.

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Today, the Republic of Zimbabwe enters the second phase of it’s best. We emerge to fully affirm our belonging to the family of nations. We harbour no ill or belligerent intentions against any other nation. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is our home. We founded it from its beginning and we recommit ourselves to further its vision and ideals. As we gaze outwards from our SADC House, we fully realise that we belong in the bigger house and family, the African Union. Whilst we were not free at the best of the OAU, which had championed the total liberation of the entire African Continent from colonialism we were creators of scaling efforts of the OAU through its Liberation Committee. The African Union itself is the sequel to the OAU, and is our natural home and a collective resource as Africans. Zimbabwe pledges its membership and declares, here and now, that it will play its role to make a success of the AU. An important sub-state of the AU is the Commercial Economic Group of Nations. There we are committed to contributing meaningfully to the realisation of the AU Agenda 2063.

Zimbabwe’s journey since independence has provided us with many lessons, some pleasant, others not so pleasant. We have however, successfully maintained good relations with the preponderant majority of the Family of Nations. I stand here today to say that our country is ready and willing to start re-engagements with all the nations of the world.

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As we build a new, democratic Zimbabwe, we ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider their economic and political sanctions against us. Whatever misunderstandings may have happened in the past let these make way for a new beginning. In this global world no nation is, can, or need be an island. Isolation has never been splendid or viable. Solidarity and partnerships are and will always pave the way. We are ready to embrace each and all on the principles of mutual respect and common humanity. We will take definite steps to re-engage those nations who had issues with us in the past. Equally, we will take measures to ensure that we acknowledge and assure commitment towards settling our debts but of course, our resources remain first, especially at this stage, when we face a myriad of pressures but we count on the goodwill of those we owe to give us a chance. We remain committed to honouring the debts and to enter into new relationships.

I wish to be clear – all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe. We will wilfully abide by the terms of bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements, which we have concluded with a number of nations. I ask you to join us in exploiting our potential to make a difference in the lives of our people. The UN is the home of all the nations on this planet. We will contribute to the overall thinking and management of world affairs. Our plain talk arises from our deep convictions and desires to help build world peace. We join the rest of the continent in calling for reforms in the UN system, so the world body becomes truly representative and thus commands universal respect. Zimbabwe will continue to contribute to international peace and security, urgently granting of full statehood and freedoms in the Palestinian and the Sahara peoples. Let us, together, honestly address the sources of instability and terrorism in the main parts of the world, all within the framework of the UN.

Zimbabwean Gothic 2. More of Zapiro’s magic available at www.zapiro.com.

Honourable guests, and people of Zimbabwe, I wish to thank all of you here, and elsewhere who wish us a peaceful transition. For the time that I shall be president of Zimbabwe, I solemnly promise that I shall, to the best of my ability, serve everyone who calls and considers Zimbabwe their home. I encourage all of us to remain peaceful, even as preparations for political contestations for next year’s harmonised, free and fair elections gather momentum. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Brothers and sisters, the people of Zimbabwe, the task before is much bigger than competing for political office. Let us all play our part to build this great country together, as Zimbabweans. May God bless Zimbabwe. I thank you.

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