President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said economic growth will be his top priority in the coming year, adding that Government had set performance targets for each ministry in that regard. The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) said this while delivering his inaugural State of the Nation Address at a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
He laid out various initiatives towards economic recovery that include combating corruption and promoting good governance, revamping and or disposing of non-performing parastatals, robust re-engagement with the international community, infrastructure renewal, revamping health delivery and the holding of a credible election next year. The President warned land barons in urban areas, saying local authorities should return to proper town planning procedures and desist from setting up unplanned settlements.
"My Government has made the growing of the national economy a top priority. Key levers of this policy thrust have been covered in my Inauguration Speech delivered on 24th November, 2017 and in the 2018 National Budget Statement presented to this august House on 7th December, 2017," President Mnangagwa said.
"In line with my pledge to prioritise policy implementation, my Government has taken it upon itself to operate on the basis of a clear set of performance targets to be implemented by each ministry within a 100-day cycle as we seek to realise the aspirations of our people within the shortest time possible," he said.
The President implored public officers to use resources economically and efficiently to achieve the intended goals. He said Government had taken a keen interest in the operations of State enterprises to improve accountability and honesty in service delivery. "Government is putting in place concrete and comprehensive instruments in line with our new market economy thrust.
"We are determined to remove any policy inconsistencies to make Zimbabwe an attractive destination for capital. The operationalisation of the One-Stop-shop Investment Centre is now proceeding with renewed impetus," he said. He also said Government was carrying out a comprehensive review in the harmonisation of investment laws and policies to boost the drive for foreign direct investment.
"Government will soon unveil a robust engagement and re-engagement programme with the international community in our continued bid to rejoin the community of nations. My Government is committed to open Zimbabwe up to investment by building a free and transparent economy which benefits Zimbabweans and is welcoming to outsiders," President Mnangagwa said.
He added: "In line with the quest for increased job creation, there is need to expedite the establishment of the National Productivity Institute. The Institute will serve to promote the competitiveness of local industry. Closely related to the foregoing is the need to exploit existing social dialogue platform, the Tripartite Negotiating Forum, where Government, business and labour should collaborate and jointly implement the agreed social contract."
He added that success of the new economic thrust would rely on rehabilitation and development of public infrastructure and other enablers such as energy, transport, housing, water and information communication technologies. The President also said successes in the 2017 agricultural season would spur economic growth in 2018 targeting financing for maize, small grains, wheat, tobacco, cotton, livestock, fisheries and wildlife production while the mining sector was expected to contribute significantly to economic growth.
"I wish to commend the small scale-artisanal miners, particularly in the gold sub-sector, who have positively responded to facilities and incentives extended by Government and have now contributed to levels higher than that of corporate gold producers," he added. President Mnangagwa bemoaned the high rate of corruption that he said had contributed significantly to the challenges bedevilling the country. "Corruption remains the major source of some of the problems we face as a country and its retarding impact on national development cannot be overemphasised," he said.
"The goal of my Government is to build a new Zimbabwe based on the crown values of honesty, transparency, accountability and hard work. In this new era measures are being taken to vigorously spearhead the e-Government programme, not only as a means to keep in step with the ICT revolution, but also to fight corruption," he said.
President Mnangagwa added that there would be no sacred cows in fighting corruption, with offenders set tp face to the full wrath of the law. He once again bemoaned the recent wanton increases in prices of basic commodities saying this was promoting imortation of cheaper imports which would hurt efforts to develop local industry. President Mnangagwa said his Government was committed to democratic values and promised a free and fair election in 2018.
"Allow me to reiterate that my Government is committed to entrenching a democratic society driven by respect for the Constitution, rule of law, mutual tolerance, peace and unity. To this end, Government will do all in its power to ensure that the 2018 harmonised general elections are credible, free and fair," he said.