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President Mugabe's 31st Independence Day address
President Robert Mugabe
April 18, 2011

View this article on The Herald website

It is with a great sense of joy and unfaltering national pride that I warmly welcome you as we celebrate the 31st anniversary of our sacred Independence.

We are a people today fully enjoying the right to self-determination and to chart our own course in life. This day, the 18th of April is written in indelible ink as the day on which freedom came to this country.

And, our hard-won freedom is celebrated and honoured by all of us in the full knowledge that it did not come easily. Lives were lost, limbs painfully bore the brunt of racist Rhodesia's anger as untold suffering was inflicted on our innocent people.

It was through our oppressed people's resilience, their immense sacrifices and the armed revolutionary struggle prosecuted by their sons and daughters that Zimbabwe was born.

It is a joy and source of pride for me to say to you all, Happy 31st Birthday and Happy Birthday to all fellow Zimbabweans, wherever they may be, across the length and breath of the land of our forefathers!
Makorokoto! Amphlope!

We also thank the Good Lord who has helped to defend and preserve our great nation. Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, while the early rains gave us hopes of a good harvest, our farmers having done their best, many parts of the country unfortunately succumbed to a prolonged dry spell that has threatened our food security.

Government is, at the moment, assessing the situation in order to establish whether there will be need to import food, that is, maize. The phenomenal increase in the production of tobacco, from 58,6 million kilogrammes in 2009 to 123 million kilogrammes last year, together with increased harvests of maize, sugar and cotton, demonstrated the potential that agriculture has, and its importance to the turnaround and development of our economy.

During the course of 2010, the Global Political Agreement, with missed targets here and there, and outright misunderstanding on others, continued to be implemented. In its various facets, it laid the firm foundations for the prevailing political and macroeconomic stability in the country.

I am happy to report that the GPA principals will continue to do their best to give this country, our country, the political and socio-economic direction it needs to take. We are also grateful for Sadc's continued support in our efforts at ensuring the unfolding implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

Following the successful completion of the constitution-making outreach programme, Government now awaits the finalisation of the outstanding processes, ahead of elections, as is stipulated in the Global Political Agreement.

The establishment of peace and political stability is a fundamental requirement we should all work hard to achieve. We are a peaceful people and so we should, both collectively and singularly, pledge ourselves to achieving both a political and economic peaceful environment.

Our Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration should continue to be not only the promoter of our peace and stability but also its watch-dog.

Better economic performance last year saw continued economic recovery, stability and growth, which was largely underpinned by increased output in the key productive sectors of agriculture and mining. These witnessed growth rates of 33,9 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Mining also proved to be a fast-growing economic sector as reflected by increases in the production of gold, platinum, diamonds and coal, and few others. The firming up of international commodity prices also helped the upturn of mineral prices.

Furthermore, the manufacturing industry, which was operating at low capacity utilisation levels, averaging 32 percent peaked to levels of around 50 percent, thus improving the availability of locally produced goods, which are gradually replacing most imported basic commodities.

The improved supply of goods and services also contributed to the management of inflation, which was, on a month-on-month basis contained below one percent throughout the year, ending up within the targeted single digit annual inflation levels of 3,2 percent.

The country's tourism sector is also poised for full recovery following various initiatives implemented last year, when the tourism sector brought in 2,2 million tourists and earned the country US$880 million. This year promises to bring more positive results for Zimbabwe's tourism industry in line with the anticipated growth of between four and five percent in international tourist arrivals.

Improving revenues, which rose from US$0,97 billion in 2009 to US$2,3 billion last year, gave us improved funding for some of the critical national projects and programmes, particularly, those related to infrastructure and social services.

As we move ahead with our recovery and development agenda, we also remain alive to the many constraints that we still face. These include limited fiscal capacity, lack of substantial investments in capital projects and infrastructural development, limited external support as a result of the prevailing debt overhang, low levels of income in both public and private sectors, and the lack of adequate employment levels for our youths.

The need for adequate and reliable infrastructure and social services has remained a challenge on our development agenda. This challenge is central to the Medium Term Development strategy currently being refined by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.

To provide the guiding framework and modalities for the implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, (Chapter 14:33), Government gazetted the Indeginisation and Economic Empowerment General Regulations in Statutory Instrument 21 of 2010.

The statutory instrument introduced indigenous and economic empowerment sector specific committees as well as Community Share Ownership Schemes. This is intended to ensure the broad-based empowerment of our people whilst also ensuring that communities benefit from the resource endowment in their areas.

In a similar way, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector continued to grow in importance over the past year, exhibiting vibrancy in terms of its contribution to employment creation and the empowerment of communities. Government will continue to accord priority to this sector.

The performance of our State enterprises and parastatals remains a major concern to Government. Government has accordingly introduced various measures and reforms, including their restructuring, to ensure their viability, efficiency and effectiveness.

Among these initiatives was the recent adoption of the Corporate Governance Framework for the State and Parastatals which serves as a common point of reference on corporate governance issues. The fundamental objective of the Corporate Governance Framework is to promote the efficient and effective use of public resources whilst enhancing accountability.

The recent acquisition of a major stake in Ziscosteel by Essar Group of India is a demonstration of direct foreign investor confidence in Zimbabwe, and bodes well not only for the iron and steel industry and the generality of the economy, but also for the communities of Redcliff and Kwekwe in the Midlands.

With respect to the Public Service, Government is committed to continually review civil service salaries and other conditions of service. As most of you will recall, I met their representatives about two weeks ago for what I believe was a useful meeting.

I will be engaging my two fellow principals on how we can take action on the obviously low packages, which the least paid Government workforce takes home.

Government has made significant strides in the provision of water to the nation through the construction of dams, construction and rehabilitation of water supply stations, and drilling and equipping of boreholes. The rural communities have seen the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes around the country in order to improve their agricultural activities. This is an on-going exercise.

In areas of housing delivery and social amenities provision, Government has made commendable progress despite limited financial resources. Appreciable progress has been registered in the implementation of 11 housing delivery projects initiated last year, and financed through the National Housing Delopment Loan Facility. In order to alleviates the housing situation for civil servants, Government has revived the Civil Service Housing Loan Facility aimed at helping civil servants to acquire houses and stands on a home ownership basis.

Government is strengthening the education sector through various initiatives such as the provision of teaching and learning materials, following the launch of the Education Transition Fund in 2009.

Inspite of the many challenges that we face, our education system continues to be regarded as one of the strongest in sub Saharan Africa. It is this system that has led the country to achieve the highest literacy rate on the African continent and we are immensely proud of this achievement.

The Constituency Development Fund which was established last year for the development of constituencies has begun to yield results. The fund was established to implement community-based projects to alleviate poverty and improve the people's standard of living.

Each constituency was allocated US$50 000. Some of the projects today include the purchase of generators for clinics, renovations to schools, clinics, and teachers' accommodation, construction of people's markets, provision of grinding mills, construction of boreholes and a range of community income-generating projects.

Government remains committed to the welfare of all its citizens and, as far as possible, to providing support to families in distress, the elderly, people with disabilities, and orphaned and vulnerable children.

Today, we celebrate our Independence anniversary against the background of major successes in the implementation of our Look East Policy and rather disappointing results in our efforts to re-engage the European Union, the United States and other Western countries over their imposition of illegal sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe.

In this regard, I am happy to note that our people are making their voices heard against the sanctions in the Anti-Sanctions Campaign.

As we engage the international community in promoting and protecting our national interest, Government's foreign policy continues to be anchored on our desire to protect Zimbabwe's hard-worn independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In pursuit of these core values, we are guided by the principles of the sovereign equality of nations, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states, peaceful settlement of disputes and the right of self-determination of all peoples as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

Within our region, the Southern African Development (Sadc) has continued to give us unwavering support in our quest to be fully in charge of economic resources.

Sadc has also reiterated its principled position in condemning the renewal of the illegal sanctions imposed on us by the United States, European Union and other Western countries at the instigation of Britain.
We are truly grateful for the guidance and support that Sadc and the African Union are giving to our country.

It is fitting on this occasion, to pay tribute to our defence and security forces for their commitment in maintaining the peace and security of our free Zimbabwe.

The professional manner in which our forces acquitted themselves in various local, regional and international peace-keeping United Nations and African Union assignments gives us much pride as a nation.

As we celebrate this cherished National Day, let us remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and Independence. Let us today remember them for their steadfastness, tenacity and oneness of purpose.

I call upon all Zimbabweans to unite in pursuit of a shared national vision and to strive at all times for peace not violence, and to respect the unity and development of our nation.

Long live Zimbabwe! Long live our Independence! Happy 31st Independence Day Anniversary! Makorokoto! Amhlophe! Congratulations!

I thank you.

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