Zimbabwe: President to Hit Ground Running

25 November 2017

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sworn in yesterday as Zimbabwe's second Executive President since independence in 1980, has said his Government will, with immediate effect, implement sweeping measures across sectors to stimulate economic growth and create employment.

Among the many measures, President Mnangagwa promised a sturdy re-engagement with the international community saying "isolation has never been splendid or viable". Locally, he pledged to tackle the cash liquidity challenges head-on, act on corruption, relax export procedures, ensure maximum utilisation of land and protect foreign investments, among other policies.

In his acceptance speech after taking the Oath of Office before thousands of people at the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was "renewing itself" and should never remain hostage to its past. He appealed to Zimbabweans to let "bygones be bygones" and embrace each other in defining the new destiny.

"Our economic policy will be predicated on our agriculture, which is the mainstay and on creating conditions for an investment-led economic recovery that puts premium on job creation," President Mnangagwa said.

"Key choices will have to be made to attract foreign direct investment to tackle high levels of unemployment, while transforming our economy towards the tertiary. The many skilled Zimbabweans who have left the country for various reasons must now come into the broad economic calculus designed for our recovery and take-off.

"The fabulous natural resources that we have as a country must now be exploited for national good, through mutually gainful partnerships with international investors whose presence in our midst must be valued and secured.

"The bottom line is an economy which is back on its feet and in which a variety of players make choices without doubts and in an environment shorn of fickle policy shifts and unpredictability. Only that way can we recover this economy, create jobs for our youths and reduce poverty for all our people who must witness real, positive changes in their lives."

To tackle liquidity challenges, President Mnangagwa said, real solutions were urgently needed.

"People must be able to access their earnings and savings as and when they need them. We must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past. Acts of corruption must stop forthwith. Where these occur, swift justice must be served to show each other and all, that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators. Grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and clean business," President Mnangagwa said.

To civil servants, President Mnangagwa said: "It cannot be business as usual. You now have to roll up your sleeves in readiness to deliver. We have an economy to recover, a people to serve. Each and every one of us must now earn their hour, day, week and month at work.

"Gone are the days of absenteeism and desultory application, days of unduly delaying and forestalling decisions and services in the hope of extorting dirty rewards. The culture in Government just has to change, unseating those little 'gods' idly sitting in public offices, for a busy, empathetic civil service that Zimbabwe surely deserves."

President Mnangagwa said the establishment of Special Economic Zones would be accelerated to attract investment and increase exports. He said the culture by bankers of levying depositors should end as "it contradicts the reasons at the heart of banking as a business".

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe harboured no ill and belligerent intentions against any nation and was prepared to work with all countries, including those that have been hostile to it.

"I stand here today to say that our country is ready for a sturdy re-engagement programme with all nations of the world. As we bear no malice towards any nations, we ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider their economic and political sanctions against us. Whatever misunderstandings may have subsisted in the past, let these make way to a new beginning which sees us relating to one another in multi-layered, mutually beneficial ways as equal and reciprocally dependent partners.

"In this global world, no nation is, can, or needs to be an island, one unto itself. Solidarity and partnerships are and will always be the way."

President Mnangagwa added: "We are ready to embrace each and all, on principles of mutual respect and common humanity. We will take definite steps to re-engage those nations who have had issues with us in the past.

"Equally, will take measures to ensure that we acknowledge and begin to show commitment towards settling our debts and enter into new partnerships."

President Mnangagwa said the land reform programme could not be reversed, as it would be a great betrayal to those who fought in the liberation struggle. He exhorted beneficiaries of the programme to optimally utilise the land, adding that the Land Commission would be capacitated to deal with all outstanding issues related to land reform.

"My Government is committed to compensating those farmers from whom land was taken, in terms of the laws for the land," he said.

"Complex issues of land tenure will have to be addressed urgently to ensure finality to the ownership and management of this key resource, which is central to national stability and sustained economic recovery."

On domestic politics, President Mnangagwa said the 2018 harmonised elections would proceed as scheduled and peacefully.

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