‘Let’s proudly protect our national interest’ President Mnangagwa addresses delegates at the 2024 CEO Africa Annual Roundtable in Victoria Falls yesterday while flanked by the organisation’s board chair, Mr Oswell Bimha (left), and Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu. — Picture: Eliah Saushoma.

Nqobile Bhebhe in VICTORIA FALLS

ZIMBABWEANS should be proud of their country and celebrate its ability to achieve transformative developmental strides while remaining united, in defiance of the crippling impact of illegal sanctions imposed on the country in the last 24 years, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.

Addressing a plenary session at the 10th CEO Africa Roundtable conference here, President Mnangagwa said the enduring unity engendered under the yoke of sanctions, which defied the West’s expectations of internal turmoil, should continue being upheld by all citizens.

Instead of weakening Zimbabwe’s resolve to protect and preserve its national interest, which was expressed through the successful Land Reform Programme at the turn of the millennium, President Mnangagwa said the illegal economic sanctions have over the years emboldened the sense of unity among Zimbabweans, leading to a faster economic growth compared to nations free of sanctions.

He urged Zimbabweans to stay resolute, unwavering and to be proud of their national identity, while also advocating for mutual respect with the international community.

Despite sanctions, the economy has made significant strides, evident in numerous transformative achievements recognised by the World Bank and endorsed by numerous global investors and economic think tanks.

“We in Government feel very, very proud of our people. We are under sanctions. Why are we under sanctions? It is because we decided to have our own land united with its own people. Other countries who have their land united with themselves imposed sanctions on us,” said President Mnangagwa.

“Now under those sanctions imposed by those who do not want us to be ourselves, we have come so far, and we have milestones of development, which we have achieved since the imposition of sanctions 24 years ago.

“We are not where we were 24 years ago, we have moved on in spite of sanctions.”

President Mnangagwa said the purpose of imposition sanctions on Zimbabwe was to make the economy scream so the population of this country could go against the Government, thereby leading to the purported regime change.

“Fortunately, Zimbabweans remained united and our economy has even grown on a yearly basis more than countries that are not under sanctions. Because of the sanctions, we have become more united and more focused,” he said.

“We have grown our agriculture, manufacturing sector, ICT, under sanctions. Imagine if we didn’t have sanctions? So, let sanctions continue so that we continue to grow and grow. I don’t regret that we have sanctions, they have united us.”

President Mnangagwa reiterated that Zimbabwe would not be apologetic for taking its land back, adding that the route taken was justified and no academic literature prescribes how a land reform route is executed.

“Yes, we have elements who have wanted a different scenario, sanctions came to us because we reclaimed our land, which had been taken by the British.

“Those who went to school, tell me of a country that became independent, got its land back through negotiations? No, you grab it back, it’s yours,” said President Mnangagwa. 

“So, now it is being accepted that we took our land back, no more noises that Zimbabweans grabbed their land. Had we looked for textbooks that tell us how to take back the land, we would have never found such a textbook.

“Let us be proud of who we are. We don’t promote enmity with anybody, we are friends to all and enemy to none, that is our philosophy but in that process we don’t lose who we are,” he added. 

“Stand up and be yourselves, we do not develop in isolation, but we must relate with respect.”

President Mnangagwa said under no circumstances will Zimbabwe accept to be trodden upon and assured Zimbabweans of a continued growth trajectory under the Second Republic, which has shamed the country’s detractors with its solid progress track record.

“World Bank figures show we are growing, so what else do you want,” he said, drawing applause from the large gathering.

According to the 2023 fourth World Bank Zimbabwe Economic Update (ZEU) report, the country has one of the fastest-growing economies in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), with economic activity accelerating despite global challenges, a confirmation of the positive outcomes of the sound economic reform agenda being spearheaded by the Second Republic.

Since coming into power in 2017, President Mnangagwa’s administration has continued to implement comprehensive “ease of doing business” reforms in the form of fiscal and monetary reform policies, which have been boldly embraced by major stakeholders across the board.

Government has also invested heavily in infrastructure development in recent years. This includes the construction of new roads, bridges and power plants.

In line with the motto “Zimbabwe is open for business”, the positive domestic and foreign investor sentiment has seen the country boosting its production capacity across the key sectors, resulting in improved job retention, new employment opportunities and a higher percentage of shelf space in shops being occupied by locally-produced goods, in addition to increasing exports.

In the last five years, Zimbabwe has attracted investments running into billions of dollars, mainly in mining, tourism, manufacturing and services among others — buttressing the National Development Strategy (NDS1) ideals while building momentum towards realising an upper middle-income society by  2030.

President Mnangagwa however, said he was not advocating for Zimbabwe to be isolated from the international community.

“I am not advocating for Zimbabwe to remain an island, but as we interact with other nations in the region and internationally, we still remain who we are,” he said. 

“In that process, you won’t be able to please everybody, but let me assure you, if you take this philosophy one day you will be respected for being who you are.

“Britain, although it’s a small island, the British are very proud that they are British. Why are you not proud to be Zimbabwean in spite of the fact that we are a small economy?

“Why should we look down upon ourselves? That island, which former President Mugabe said to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, ‘keep your cold England and I will keep my Zimbabwe’, dominated the world in spite of the fact that it is a small island, because they are compact,” said President Mnangagwa.

“They ravaged countries that were not compact. So, we must remain compact as Zimbabwe and no one will destroy us. Therefore, while we maintain that we need to be ourselves, we must relate with others but in that process let us treat each other with dignity and                                acceptance.”

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