The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'Work Together to Maximise Economic Potential'

WESTERN diplomats and security chiefs from the region yesterday said prospects of turning around the economy were bright and urged Zimbabweans to collectively work hard to achieve its potential.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 34th Independence anniversary celebrations in Harare yesterday, United States of America Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Bruce Wharton, said Zimbabwe has great potential to improve the economy.

"This country (Zimbabwe) has enormous potential. If you look at the economy's performance between 2008 and 2009 for example, the economy grew by 28 percent in a few months.

"This shows that the future of Zimbabwe can be very bright if all the stakeholders work hard," said Mr Wharton.

Mr Wharton, whose country intensified its economic sanctions regime on Thursday, added that US was committed to promoting development in Zimbabwe.

"At independence some 34 years ago, my country made a commitment to support development projects in Zimbabwe and that commitment remains strong. I am here to re-express our commitment and solidarity with Zimbabwe," he said.

Mr Wharton congratulated Zimbabwe for attaining independence on behalf of the US government.

He, however, did not say how his professed hope for Zimbabwe's economic turnaround fitted into the economic sanctions regime his country intensified on Thursday, when it added one company and several Chinese nationals doing business in Zimbabwe to a travel and financial blacklist

Ambassador Matthew Neuhaus of Australia, concurred saying Zimbabwe was promising.

"The economic future of Zimbabwe is very promising. You have a very well-educated young generation who are capable of working hard to take this country forward.

"We have stood beside Zimbabwe through difficult times as well as better times and partnering in development assistance and investment.

"We hope that this year we may see improvements in economic policy which allows us to do more," he said.

DRC ambassador to Zimbabwe, who is also Dean of African diplomats, Ambassador Mwanananga Mwawampanga, hailed Zimbabwe for the achievements made after independence.

"Despite the trials and tribulations, Zimbabwe is still kicking and alive.

"We, as brothers and friends of Zimbabwe, are very happy about the way you have gone through the first 34 years of independence.

"The years 2008 to 2013 were trying times for Zimbabwe but you managed to come out with flying colours. We have to congratulate you for that," he said.

Ambassador Mwawampanga urged Zimbabweans to unite and work hard to improve the economy.

"Now is the time for Zimbabweans to come together and rebuild the economy of this country, which is very resilient and has a lot of potential.

"It is just a matter of sitting down with level heads and work hard and this country's economy can take off like a rocket," he said.

Inspector General of the Namibian police, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, said Zimbabwe and Namibia share a common history, it was now time for the citizens to reclaim control and ownership of their resources.

"Our countries are very rich but the economy is still not in our hands. We are now both fighting the economic wars.

"We are really comrades in arms. We have to be united and work together to achieve economic independence," he said.

Lt Gen Ndeitunga hailed Zimbabwe for reclaiming its land, describing land reform as a giant step towards economic independence.

"Zimbabweans are now owners of their land. We congratulate Zimbabwe for achieving this and other accolades within the first 34 years of independence," he said.

Lt Gen Ndeitunga said Zimbabwe-Namibia solidarity dates back to the liberation struggles when their guerillas were trained together in Tanzania, Zambia and other parts of the world.

Tanzanian Land Forces Commander Major General Salim Mustafa Kijuu, said despite economic embargoes, Zimbabwe must soldier on.

"Despite the economic embargoes by the West, Zimbabweans have to work hard. They have to unite and work together. They should not give up because one day they will win," he said.

Major Gen Kijuu said Tanzanians and Zimbabweans had strong ties that should be maintained.

"Our friendship is historical and it dates back to the days of Chimurenga. As Tanzanians and Zimbabweans we are brothers and we will stay like this forever," he said.

MDC-T senior party official and Warren Park legislator Engineer Elias Mudzuri said independence was important for all despite having different political views and opinions.

"We all fought for the independence of Zimbabwe. It is not correct that when you belong to a different political party you are out of the realms of what happened to Zimbabweans.

"We are part of what happened to Zimbabweans and we fought in order to liberate this country.

"We have to reflect on what our fallen and living heroes fought for. It is an important day for all of us despite having political differences," said Eng Mudzuri.

War veterans' leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda, said the liberation struggle was still on despite attaining independence.

"We were colonised and suppressed for many years, but we have managed to recover our land and our independence.

"Now we are in a struggle to recover our national resources, that we make our national resources work for our people.

"We should be able to dig our own minerals, make products out of them sell them so that we earn a lot of money.

"The struggle is still on because the pattern of life is ever-changing," he said.

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