Fungi Kwaramba-Political Editor
ZIMBABWEANS must jealously safeguard the prevailing economic stability, maintain peace and desist from illegal activities as the nation prepares to hold harmonised elections next year, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Addressing a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate at the majestic New Parliament Building in Harare during the official opening of the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa outlined major successes that have been scored by his administration since his last State of the Nation (SONA) address last year.
These successes are a result of discipline on expenditure by Government, pragmatic and progressive policies such as the Presidential Input Scheme and interventions to protect the consumer from predatory and speculative tendencies of a few rogue businesses that thrive on economic stability.
A battery of measures introduced by Government mid this year, that include the introduction of gold coins, have seen the economy not only stabilising, but recording growth, riding on marked investments in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
“The period since my last address to this Parliament has seen unprecedented socio-economic growth as well as the accelerated implementation of the National Development Strategy 1.
“Tight monetary and fiscal policy measures to stabilise the economy and curtail speculative borrowing and other rent-seeking behaviour, are bearing fruit.
“Gold coins valued at ZW$9,5 billion were sold as of September 30, 2022. Smaller denominations of the gold coins have been unveiled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to broaden access and inclusivity. Month-on-month inflation for September significantly declined to 3.5 percent from 12.4 percent in August, 2022. Every Zimbabwean must jealously guard this stability.
“Meanwhile, foreign currency earnings amounted to US$7.7 billion for the 8 months up to August 31, 2022. This reflects a 32.4 percent increase from the US$5.8 billion recorded over the corresponding period in 2021,” said President Mnangagwa.
Similar growth has also been witnessed in the agriculture sector where this year the Presidential Input Programme is targeting 3 million farmers for enhanced production of cereals, oilseeds and legumes.
“The programme will support five Pfumvudza/Intwasa plots per household, with specific crop input packages based on agroecological regions. The Zunde RaMambo/Isiphala SeNkosi Programme has been extended to also cover headmen and village heads. Our traditional leaders are constantly with our people at grassroots level. Hence, my Government will render all possible support to them,” the President said.
Given that the mining sector is on an unprecedented growth with investors coming in not only to extract but also value add and beneficiate the vast deposits of minerals such as lithium and gold, President Mnangagwa said the Government is tightening controls to ensure optimum outcomes.
“Government is decisively dealing with illegal mining and smuggling of precious minerals. All players in the sector are once again urged to operate legally and in an environmentally sustainable manner”.
With increased activity in both the mining and manufacturing sectors where industrial capacity utilisation is now at 66 percent up from 47 percent in 2020, the country is now facing increased power demand, with solutions already in place to meet the growing demand.
“The economy is growing faster than power supply. The Hwange Unit 7 is expected to be commissioned by year end. A further 300MW from Unit 8 is expected to come on-stream by the second quarter of 2023. Efforts are on-going to expand the country’s energy mix, with focus on renewable energy.”
The President also outlined various programmes and projects that his administration has implemented in the last few years, fulfilling his pledge of development that leaves no one and no place behind.
This is illustrated in the ubiquitous construction of infrastructure projects such as houses, clinics, roads and dams across the country, elevation of the country’s education to meet modern demands through the creation of innovation hubs and industrial parks in the education revolution dubbed “Chimurenga Chepfungwa”, as well as social safety nets for the vulnerable through programmes such as Beam that has benefited more than 2 million children.
On the diplomatic front, President Mnangagwa, whose pillar foreign policy is Engagement and Re-engagement, said the country has done exceedingly well on international platforms as its people excelled against all odds.
“Our diplomatic missions have been re-focused towards economic diplomacy and diaspora engagement to attract investment and mutually beneficial partnerships.
“The need for the unconditional removal of sanctions, which have constrained socio-economic growth for 11 decades, remains urgent and imperative. We are grateful to the African Union, SADC and other world leaders who made similar calls during the 77th United Nations General Assembly.
“Our country welcomes the invitation to attend the United States-Africa Summit in December, 2022 and emphasis remains on dialogue and multilateralism as the best option to resolve today’s global challenges.”
Reacting to the President’s speech, legislators from across the political divide said it clearly spells out the direction which the nation is taking under the leadership of President Mnangagwa.
Zanu PF Chief Whip Cde Pupurai Togarepi said every well-meaning Zimbabwean must embrace the President’s speech.
“I think the President hit the nail on the head, we need to engage with people throughout the world and have good relations with everybody as well as the people of Zimbabwe. We need to do our politics in a mature way and avoid unnecessary divisions and violence so as to maintain the current economic growth,” he said.
Opposition legislator, Mr Tapiwa Mashakada, who is also a former Minister for Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, said there is a need to safeguard the prevailing economic stability.
“The rebound of the economy is quite exciting, this was well spoken by the President and we need to indeed safeguard the current stability to ensure continued growth,” he said.
Buhera South legislator Cde Joseph Chinotimba said the development projects of the Second Republic are being seen across the country.
“We are seeing development everywhere, roads are being constructed, schools and clinics. The President spoke about the engagement and re-engagement policy and also spoke strongly against violence, this is a progressive leader who deserves another term in office,” said Cde Chinotimba.
Epworth legislator Cde Zalerah Makari said the future of Zimbabwe looks bright under the visionary leadership of President Mnangagwa.
“The President’s speech was warm, it was all-encompassing and informative and stately. He spoke about the importance of Zimbabwe coming together, the President is restoring Zimbabwe to its rightful status,” said Cde Makari.
On his part, Nyanga South MP Supa Mandiwanzira described the President’s speech as “brilliant” in that it was “not only well presented but tackled a lot of issues that are going on in the economy”.
“It was a progress report on how this Government is performing and from all that has been presented it is performing extremely well.
“The amount of projects and progress reports that the President has articulated demonstrates that there is growth that is taking place in this country and it is a very exciting prospect that the investments that His Excellency mentioned are coming into our country,” said Cde Mandiwanzira.
On the other hand, Norton independent legislator Mr Temba Mliswa praised the President’s speech as it tackled vices like early marriages and drug abuse.
“I am glad the President spoke about the drug and substance abuse, child early pregnancies and marriages which are happening and uncalled for. They must be dealt with decisively” he said.