THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector
 
 
    HOME THE PROJECT DIRECTORYJOINARCHIVESEARCH E:ACTIVISMBLOGSMSFREEDOM FONELINKS CONTACT US
 

 


Back to Index

Speech at opening of Third Session of Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe
July 24, 2007

ONCE again it gives me great pleasure to address this august House on the occasion of the opening of the Third Session of the Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe.

This Session begins against a backdrop of positive developments that have the potential to make an indelible impact on the country’s socio-economic landscape.

Internally, the signing of the three sub-sector protocols symbolised an important step towards the realisation of the Social Contract by the social partners, a welcome development that indeed promises to usher in a new era of mutual collaboration in addressing national challenges. Indeed, "Putting Zimbabwe First", ahead of parochial partisan interests, remains the best approach in seeking a turnaround to our economy. In order to give relief to our people in the face of astronomical rises in the prices of basic commodities, Government has embarked on a price stabilisation exercise that seeks to return prices to the pre-June 18 levels.

On the diplomatic front, we are indeed gratified by some recent international developments namely, the appointment of Zimbabwe to chair the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development; our election as Vice Chair of Comesa in 2007, followed by our prospective hosting of the Summit in 2008; and the fact of our representing the Eastern and Southern African regions of the African Development Bank. These developments vividly demonstrate the confidence of our African partners in our country despite the hype of gloom and doom peddled by our Western detractors and their allies. The world is growing opposed to a unipolar world system that unashamedly tramples upon the rights of weaker states while resorting to self-serving notions of democracy and human rights as a veneer of legitimacy for their ill conduct.

It is for this reason that we dearly cherish the bold stance by Sadc member states in calling for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed against us and refusing to accept the hostile attitude of Britain and its allies to Zimbabwe.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

Our economy continues to face adverse challenges emanating mainly from the illegal sanctions and successive droughts whose effects in turn are, inter alia, foreign currency shortages, and erratic energy and power supply situations. In these circumstances, the inexplicable price and rent hikes, which were apparently welcomed and encouraged by our regime-change proponents compounded the situation further and thus invited Government intervention.

Government, however, remains committed to restoring price stability and normalcy to the economy. To this end, following the passage of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act by Parliament, focus is now on expediting the operationalisation of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission. Members of the Commission have already been appointed, while work on the requisite statutory instruments is being finalised. The Commission will carry out research, maintain a comprehensive nationwide statistical database to be used in the analysis of pricing and production costs across all sectors of the economy; as well as developing pricing policy models, frameworks and strategies, with the overall objective of harmonising incomes and prices.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

Agriculture remains the fulcrum of our economic turnaround. This demands that prime attention should be placed on maximising productivity in the sector through mechanisation, irrigation development and enhanced provision of technical and financial support. It is in pursuance of this objective that Government has now embarked on an aggressive five-year agricultural mechanisation programme. On 11 June 2007, I commissioned the supply of over 925 tractors, 35 combine harvesters, 586 disc ploughs, 463 disc harrows, 70 vicon fertilizer spreaders, 241 boom sprayers and 71 planters all acquired at a total cost of US$25 million. It was a historic event since it signalled the first phase of our agricultural mechanisation programme. This programme, together with Government’s ongoing dam construction and irrigation development programmes, will indeed place our agrarian revolution on a firm pedestal.

Furthermore, a US$200 million Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement between Government and the Exim Bank of China, together with other internal initiatives to enhance the capacity of the local fertilizer producers, has also helped in improving stability in the supply of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and chemicals. Government will also continue to offer technical and financial support to farmers through vehicles such as the Reserve Bank’s Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF) and other possible support windows in the financial institutions. With regard to livestock production, Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, has embarked on a massive restocking exercise that will see the Ministry of Agriculture and the central bank availing funding for the cattle-breeding programme to increase the national herd by more than two million over the next two to three years.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

As a nation, a vision serves as a compass and acts as a source of inspiration in energising our medium-to-long-term development efforts. Accordingly, after consultations with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, an updated version of the Vision 2020 Document is now in place. Work will soon commence to publicise and rally the national effort towards its realisation. Also in this context, Government is working on the Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy, a medium-term development programme to be implemented from 2008 to 2010. The programme’s objective is to bring about sustainable and balanced economic growth. This thrust should also benefit from ongoing consultations with the Sadc team on its recommended package of measures to turn around the economy.

To improve accountability and enhance efficiency in the use of public resources by Government ministries, the Public Finance Management Bill, and the Audit Bill, which provides for the creation of an independent National Audit Office in line with international best practice, will be brought for consideration during this Session. Furthermore, the Sadc Finance and Investment Protocol, which will foster harmonisation of the financial and investment policies within the region, shall also be brought to Parliament for ratification. Bilateral trade agreements with Iran, Indonesia and Namibia will be signed during this Session, while similar negotiations with Zambia and Angola are in progress.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

The mining sector’s profile as a growth node for the economy continues on an upward trajectory. This further reinforces the need for the nation to assert control over, and maximise benefits, from its mineral wealth. To this end, therefore, and in the light of the discovery of the Marange alluvial diamonds, a Bill to amend the Precious Stones Trade Act [Chapter 21:06] together with the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, shall be introduced during the Third Session. Furthermore, Parliament will, during this Session, be requested to ratify the Association of African Diamond Producing Countries (ADPA) Convention that was signed on 4th November 2006 in Luanda by African Diamond Producing Countries.

The Third Session will also see the tabling in this House of the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill which seeks to both amend the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act [Chapter 2:12] and the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13], and to harmonise the two Acts and provide for the manner of appointment of members of the Electoral Court, as well as to transfer assets from the now defunct Electoral Supervisory Commission to the new National Electoral Commission (NEC). This amendment will be brought to Parliament soon in order to effect changes before the 2008 elections and to allow time for interested parties to fully appreciate and comprehend our electoral laws.

The current Session will also witness the tabling of the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill that seeks to amend the country’s Constitution to reduce the Presidential term from the current six to five years; harmonise the Presidential, parliamentary and local government elections; expand the membership of the House of Assembly from the current 150 to 210; as well as expand and restructure the membership of the Senate from the current 66 to 84, all with effect from 2008. Harmonising the elections will reduce costs and enable Government to focus more on development issues.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

The transport and communications sector, which is without doubt a vital artery for the economy, has seen its efficient and effective operation being seriously undermined by rampant thefts and vandalisation of its infrastructure. Accordingly, the Railways (Amendment) Bill and the Railways Regulatory Bill, aimed at curbing vandalism of railway infrastructure, will be tabled during the Third Session. Vandalism has not spared the power sector either, and this has resulted in Zesa experiencing huge financial losses and the incessant disruption of power supplies to many of its customers. In order to curb these occurrences, a Bill to amend the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19] and provide for stiffer penalties shall be brought before this House during this Session.

As part of the local and global initiatives to guarantee sustainable management of the environment, Government will, during this Session, table before Parliament for ratification, the Sadc Protocol on Forestry; the Sadc Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement; the Sadc Protocol on Fisheries; the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; and the Montreal and Beijing Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

During the Third Session, the National Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill shall be tabled before this House, while the Co-operatives Society Act of 1996 will be amended to bring it into alignment with the revised policy on Co-operative Societies approved in 2005. Pursuant to the need to uplift the standard of life for our people in the rural areas, Government has embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of houses, market stalls, community centres, schools and rural health centres, community bakeries and business shells, among other projects.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

The country continues to lose large numbers of skilled and experienced personnel. To halt this unsavoury trend, Government will continue to review salaries and to provide assistance in regard to housing and transport for its workforce. In addition, action is already being taken to operationalise the Skills Retention Fund, which should assist in the retention of skills in critical shortage areas.

All is now set for the introduction of the Cadetship Scheme in terms of which assistance is to be given through the National Education and Training Fund to Zimbabwean students willing to join the Public Service upon completion of their training. Apart from helping to plug skill gaps in ministries and departments, the scheme will also help to instil in students the sacrosanct value of commitment to the service of their country. I am pleased to note that the response has been overwhelming, with not less than 20 000 applicants expected to be on the programme when universities open in August this year.

During this Third Session, the Education Act will be amended in order to bring finality to the perennial problem of school fees determination, while the Zimsec Act, the Sports and Recreation Commission Act, and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Act shall be reviewed to render them consistent with the current dispensation.
Government will this year present for adoption and ratification by Parliament the African Youth Charter, which outlines the rights, duties and responsibilities of State parties in addressing the economic, social, educational, cultural and spiritual needs of the youth. The National Youth Service Bill, which aims at upgrading the operations and management of the National Youth Service Programme, will also be presented before this Parliament.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

It is sad to note that old persons in our country are the only category of vulnerable groups without legislation to cater for their welfare. Accordingly, the Old Persons Bill, which caters for the well-being of old persons, who, in most instances, look after grandchildren orphaned due to the HIV/Aids pandemic and other causes, shall be tabled for consideration.

The HIV/Aids pandemic, coupled with the ever-increasing cost of drugs, poses a serious strain to the health delivery system. However, to date, the rollout of the anti-retroviral treatment programme has reached a satisfactory 62 000 persons against a target of 90 000 for 2006. Government is continuing with efforts to attain the target of 120 000 persons by end of year.

While the level of urban water-supply sources is generally satisfactory, the water situation in some of our big cities, especially Harare and Bulawayo, remains a cause for concern. I am pleased, however, that work on the construction of the Mtshabezi pipeline, which should augment water supply for Bulawayo, is soon to start, while work to boost water abstraction from the Nyamandlovu Acquifer is already in progress. With regard to Harare, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), has embarked on a programme to drastically reduce the loss of treated water through the repair and refurbishment of the water reticulation system. The long-to-medium-term solution, however, lies in expanding the city’s water pumping capacity and the construction of an additional water reservoir. In this regard, I am pleased to note that construction of Kunzvi Dam is now soon to commence.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

The issue of corruption is no longer one of mere criminality, but has instead become a fundamental moral question, requiring multi-faceted enforcement interventions. Accordingly, as part of the efforts to combat this scourge, courses on ethics and integrity shall be introduced throughout the whole education system, with a view to inculcating honesty in the citizens of the country. In addition, proposals to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act [Chapter 9:22], as well as measures to protect whistleblowers and other providers of information, vital for combating economic crimes that threaten our existence as a nation, shall be introduced during this Session.

In an effort to prevent and combat transitionally organised crime, my Government will bring to Parliament three additional protocols to the United Nations Convention Against Transitional Organised Crime for ratification. The first one is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The protocol seeks to protect and assist the victims of such trafficking, while maintaining full respect for their human rights. The other two are the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air and another Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their parts and components, and ammunition. In addition, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa will be brought for ratification during this Session.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

My Government will also bring to Parliament two Sadc protocols for ratification. The first of these is the Sadc Protocol on Extradition, which imposes an obligation on State parties to extradite any person within their jurisdiction wanted for prosecution or imposition or enforcement of a sentence in the requesting State. The second is the Sadc Protocol on the Facilitation of the Movement of People. The overall objective of this protocol is the development of policies aimed at the progressive elimination of obstacles to the movement of persons in the region.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

On the international front we continue to face hostility from Britain and some of her Western allies. Our detractors have redoubled their efforts to achieve illegal regime change in order to reverse our land reform programme. The violence and other acts of lawlessness we have witnessed in recent months, which were planned and executed in complicity with certain Western powers, were meant to create mayhem and hence a basis to place our country on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

We are pleased, Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir, that the international community saw through our detractors’ ploys and rejected the falsehoods propagated by the Western media against Zimbabwe. Their failure at both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council attests to the fact that the situation in Zimbabwe is clearly not a threat to regional, let alone international, peace and security. We, as always, are grateful to our friends in Sadc, the African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), for their principled and unwavering stand in support of Zimbabwe in the face of efforts to abuse these United Nations institutions.

Attempts to manipulate and abuse the United Nations and its institutions by our detractors serve only to reinforce the urgent need for the reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council, to make it more accountable and democratic. An unreformed United Nations will continue to serve the interests of the powerful few at the expense of the majority, who are mainly developing countries.

Madame President, Mr Speaker Sir,

We wish, once again, to applaud our security forces for continuing to fulfil their constitutional obligation of safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty with distinction. It will also be remembered that to further bolster the Defence Forces, Government recently gazetted the Defence (War Veterans Reserve) Regulations 2007. These regulations are meant to guide the conduct of those eligible war veterans who decide to voluntarily join the War Veterans Reserve Force.

In conclusion, let me say your task as parliamentarians during this Session is a mammoth one. It demands, as ever, sound and balanced application of your minds on the mandate bestowed on you by the country’s Constitution and indeed by the electorate out there. Ministries and departments will rely heavily on this august body as they seek guidance and power in implementing Government programmes in social, economic, political, bilateral, multilateral, regional and international matters. By putting Zimbabwe first, let us all shun retrogressive and self-destructive tendencies and work tirelessly to see Zimbabwe emerge as a strong, united, egalitarian and prosperous nation.
I wish you fruitful deliberations and have great pleasure in now declaring this Third Session of the Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe officially open.

I thank you.

Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.

TOP