23 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Lesotho PM Jets in On 3-Day State Visit

Photo: Flicker
Lesotho's prime minister Thomas Thabane (file photo) will officially open this year's 102nd Harare Agricultural Show on Friday.

LESOTHO Prime Minister Mr Tom Motsoahae Thabane arrived in the country yesterday afternoon on a three-day State visit.

He was received at the Harare International Airport by President Mugabe and senior Government officials.

These included Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of State Security Sydney Sekeramayi, Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya-Moyo and service chiefs.

PM Thabane received a 21-gun salute and inspected the guard of honour.

He touched down to a rousing welcome from hundreds of people who had gathered at the airport yesterday afternoon to witness his arrival.

The two leaders later had a meeting at a local hotel that lasted almost an hour.

The President then hosted a banquet in honour of PM Thabane at State House.

President Mugabe congratulated PM Thabane on his recent election.

He said PM Thabane's election was a testimony to the trust and confidence the people of Lesotho have in his leadership skill.

"In the same vein, we also pay tribute to the people of Lesotho for the smooth and peaceful change of government, which attests to your ever maturing democracy.

"It is a development that gives us great satisfaction as member-states of the Southern African Development Community."

President Mugabe said the people of Lesotho were happy with PM Thabane's service in previous senior capacities in government.

He was formerly the principal secretary for health before holding various portfolios including in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

"For yours is indeed classic and living proof of working your way up the government ladder. Clearly, you have been a patriotic and true servant of your people," he said.

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe hoped to tap into PM Thabane's experience in further developing the two countries' strong relations.

"As you will be aware, our countries share strong historical ties dating back to our own days of the liberation struggle.

"We remember with fond memories the assistance that Lesotho rendered to Zimbabwe during those days, particularly in the education sector.

"Your country educated a significant number of our citizens who were here to occupy key positions in our Government when we attained independence in 1980."

He noted the assistance Lesotho rendered to Zimbabwe while under pressure from former apartheid South Africa.

"Against this strong background of our historical and mutual assistance, when the genial people of Lesotho faced political challenges in the 1990s, we found it only just and fulfiling to give our assistance in order to help reconcile them.

"It is from these strong bonds, forged and lived over the years that we want to develop a strong co-operative relationship for the good of our people."

President Mugabe said there were numerous areas of possible co-operation between Zimbabwe and Lesotho that needed to be revived.

He identified new ones in such areas as manufacturing, agriculture, energy, mining, education and health sectors.

He said the country should reinvigorate the trade agreement between the two countries through policies that enhanced trade.

President Mugabe said while the Global Political Agreement was progressing well, it had received some knocks, but the parties resolved most of the issues and were finalising the draft Constitution.

The President hailed the support of countries in the region, including Lesotho and other progressive members of the international community and the hardworking people of Zimbabwe that have seen Government anchoring the economy on the road to recovery.

"As already intimated, we owe our recent progress to the invaluable contribution of our regional organisation, Sadc which has remained solidly in support of Zimbabwe's objection to the illegal western imposed sanctions.

"They are an albatross around our necks and like, millstones, they weigh heavily against our people's development efforts."

He expressed hope to the recent changes of leadership in the African Union Commission that he said would further strengthen the body.

"We hope that the new thrust will always put at the forefront, our guiding principles requiring us to provide African solutions to African problems.

"This is what will make our organisation more responsive to emerging security and political threats."

President Mugabe reiterated the call that the United Nations remained guided by its charter while serving all its members.

He said the UN, especially the Security Council, should be democratised to serve the pinnacle of international justice with clear objectives and programmes to preserve international peace.

He said the abuses in North Africa should not be repeated. PM Thabane said his delegation felt an aura of inspiration visiting the resilient people of Zimbabwe.

"We are reminded that for almost a century, from 1890 when Cecil Rhodes first settled in this African city of Harare, until 1980 when Zimbabwe defeated colonialism and attained political independence, the people of this sister country never knew peace and tranquility.

"Their heritage was stolen, their farmland and resources usurped by colonialists and they were subjected to the most brutal political and economic exclusion ever meted out to a people.

"But the people of Zimbabwe resisted colonial rule from the beginning. If their first Chimurenga of 1896 was suppressed by unparalleled brutality, that did not deter them from launching the second Chimurenga 60 years later, a bitter war of liberation that ended with the defeat of colonialism and the subsequent independence of Zimbabwe 32 two years ago.

"Your personal contribution and leadership in that struggle, Mr President, is now a matter for the annals of history."

He expressed Lesotho's confidence in President Mugabe's calibre and vision as leader that Zimbabwe would overcome its challenges to be among the best economic performers in Southern Africa.

PM Thabane said Lesotho was following, with keen interest, sympathy and admiration.

He said Zimbabwe under President Mugabe's leadership has asserted its right to sovereignty while restoring the people's dignity and resources taken away by colonialists.

"History will record that the people of Zimbabwe were lucky to have you as a leader at that critical time in the history of their nationhood.

"I dare say you were the only leader, at that moment in history, with sufficient political credentials, stature and tenacity to withstand the pressures that were unleashed by those who wanted to prove that Zimbabwe was wrong to assert its independence, and to fully reverse the injustices of colonialism."

He said Zimbabwe may have gone through economic difficulties but the region acknowledges with administration the solid foundation that the policies have built for development of Zimbabwe and future generations.

He expressed confidence that Zimbabwe would emerge out of political uncertainty.

PM Thabane called for leaders to put Zimbabwe's interests ahead of their own to overcome their differences.

He said the GPA was inconceivable but through President Mugabe's political maturity, leadership and diplomatic skills, "and thanks to the cooperation of your partners, today there is light at the end of the tunnel..."

Zimbabweans, he said, would solve their own problems.

"Our region has consistently stood together to reject externally imposed solutions that seek to undermine the sovereignty and independence of Zimbabwe.

"Despite the limited relaxation of sanctions by countries of the European Union, we continue to call for the lifting of all sanctions against this sisterly country," he said.

PM Thabane is expected to tour the National Heroes Acre today before traveling to Victoria Falls.

He will officially open the Harare Agricultural Show tomorrow.

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