AS has become our ceremonial tradition in August, we gather here today to remember, and pay tribute to, the living and fallen heroes of our liberation struggle, whose blood, sacrifices and untold suffering, brought us our most valued freedom and independence.
Today, as we come together around various sacred shrines across the breadth and width of Zimbabwe and provincial and district levels, we commemorate with a deep sense of humility, and yet with much national pride and honour, and courage and bravery of our liberation heroes, who gave their all to fight, and defeat, the unjust settler colonial regime.
As we recall the many lives lost, the maimed and scarred lives of survivors of that protracted armed struggle, we indeed have cause to celebrate our sovereign independence and freedom, which enabled us to reclaim our cherished land, our national sovereignty thus promoting and enabling the empowerment of our people in the occupation and ownership of their natural resources.
Today, let us as a nation, reaffirm the core values that guided our liberation struggle such as the selflessness and that willingness, commitment to paying the supreme sacrifice for the greater good of our people; the bravery, courage and resilience and that enduring spirit to suffer hardships for one’s country; and finally the unity of purpose to safeguard our culture, customs and nationality.
Fellow Zimbabweans, as we mark the first anniversary of the 31st July 2013 harmonised elections, successfully held under the provisions of a new homegrown Constitution, we rejoice that the resounding victory enjoyed by Zanu-PF put paid, put paid, put paid, once and for all, to the evil machinations of regime change that were being pursued by our erstwhile colonisers, working in cahoots with local misguided political charlatans and quislings.
Let us forever cherish the culture of peace that we generated and promoted in our country. Lasting peace is important, not only for the social cohesion of our nation, but also in ensuring a sustainable framework for national development. I, therefore, wish to acknowledge the role we have all have played, whether as political parties, or as churches and religious institutions, civil society organisations and the general citizenry in enabling this culture of peace and freedom. Peace, peace begins with me, peace begins with you, runyararo, runyararo, runyararo.
Ladies and gentlemen, in pursuit of fulfilling the ruling party’s promises to the electorate, Government has begun in earnest to implement the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
This national economic blueprint is intended to expedite national development through the leveraging of proceeds from domestic natural resources combined with available international resources. This has enabled us to begin to implement various projects and programmes.
This will inevitably promote, with increased investment, more employment opportunities, ultimately improving the standards of living of our people.
Zimbabwe’s economy remains one of the most resilient economies in the region, characterised by low levels of inflation at the moment.
Under the Food and Security cluster of Zim-Asset, the attainment of food security remains Government’s top priority. During the 2013/14 season, that is the last season, maize production reached, we are told, at least 1 456 153 metric tonnes, a 46 percent increase compared to the 2012/13 agricultural season. The Government Inputs Programme has contributed significantly to an increase in food production of maize, small grains, potatoes and sugar beans and many other horticultural produce.
Tobacco and cotton continue to be the leading agricultural cash crops. To date, more than 180 million kilogrammes of tobacco have been sold and generated some US$574 million. With respect to cotton, we expect some 147 360 metric tonnes during the 2013/2014 season, an 11 percent increase compared to the last season.
As a result of the good rainfall received in the 2013/14 season, our livestock will have adequate grazing in most parts of the country.
However, we stay ready to assist livestock farmers in drought-prone areas with drought mitigation programmes if that becomes necessary.
In order to support our farmers, steps have been taken to grant them security of tenure. In this regard, Government launched the A1 settlement permit programme on the 2nd of July this year. It is Government’s target to issue the permit to at least 8 000 A1 farmers by December this year and many more in 2015. A2 farmers will also continue to be issued with the 99-year leases.
One of the major contributors to the country’s GDP, the mining sector, from time to time, receives measures to improve its efficiency.
Currently, local diamond cutting and polishing are the sector’s major targets, while value addition in gold, platinum, chrome and nickel is also being vigorously pursued.
Manufacturing continues to face a myriad of challenges such as low capacity utilisation and obsolete machinery. Through the Cost Drivers Analysis Study, Government seeks to raise the competitiveness of our products and services, and the stepping up of resource mobilisation.
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (what we in short call the MSMEs) Policy, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Act are intended to create a conducive and enabling operating environment for sustainable development and growth of the MSMEs sector.
Government is, therefore, committed to further develop the sector, which makes a huge contribution to the country’s economy, through employment creation and income generation.
While Government seeks to maintain the highest literacy rate in Africa, it also continues to promote ICTs and e-learning, to improve education standards. Government is also committed to ensuring that each province in the country has a university. This in pursuit of its goal, since independence, of providing university education to the majority of our people.
Despite limited resources, Government remains committed to giving maximum support to the health sector. We are on track to achieving the HIV-related MDG goals by 2015, and in equipping national health facilities so as to provide appropriate high quality diagnostic services.
Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress in the provision and rehabilitation of infrastructure. In the energy sector, Government has committed financial resources towards the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing power infrastructure in order to achieve optimal performance. The country has increased its output to averages of 650MW for Hwange, 750MW for Kariba and 100MW for the small thermal stations.
As a result, the country’s power stations have increased output to averages of 650MW for Hwange, 750MW for Kariba and 100MW for small thermal power stations – I am reading that once again.
Work on the Kariba Power Station expansion project, estimated to cost some US$318 million, started in June 2014, to be commissioned by the year 2017, will see an additional power generation output of some 300MW. Meanwhile, Government is continuing with the Rural Electrification Programme, in its concerted efforts to improve the economic well-being of the rural populace.
In an effort to improve road infrastructure, the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare road is now at 80 percent to completion. In addition, the Government has floated tenders for 14 road projects and one bridge within the framework of the joint venture/Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, Government is committed to the proper management of our environment, water and climate resources. Government seeks to ensure that Zimbabweans have access to good quality water for domestic, industrial, agricultural and recreational use.
In this regard, Government has embarked on various water development projects such as the Tokwe-Mukosi, Marovanyati, Gwayi-Shangani, and Semwa dams.
The proliferation of unplanned and illegal settlements remains a manifestation of the need to develop robust strategies that will see the housing backlog being addressed. In order to achieve this goal, Government has operationalised the 2012 National Housing Policy with a view to coming up with a national housing delivery programme that has clearly defined goals and roles of players in the sector.
We are delighted that Zimbabwe is highly reputed as a safe and secure tourism destination of choice. The recent launch by Government of a National Tourism Policy will, therefore, provide a guiding framework for the development of tourism in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has steadily maintained its role of fulfilling regional peace and sustainable development. We depend on our security and defence forces for the maintenance of our peace and security as a free and sovereign country. We dare not drop our guard. We will, through various continental and international fora, contribute to the creation and maintenance of a peaceful international environment.
Although Defence Forces Day is only due tomorrow, allow me to pay tribute to our defence, police, prisons and security services for their unflinching, relentless and dedicated service in guaranteeing and maintaining peace and stability in our country.
Our humble assumption of the chairmanship of Sadc will see us steering this august body through the promotion, articulation and safeguarding of Sadc principles and programmes. Zimbabwe remains committed to working with, and through the United Nations, the AU and Sadc, in pursuit of global peace and development.
Comrades and friends, I call upon all Zimbabweans to unite and work together as a nation for the development of our country, the only one God-given Zimbabwe we have and belong to.
Tibatane tose kusevenzera nyika yedu, mhuri yedu yeZimbabwe. Tichiisa zvinangwa zvavo mberi kwete zvedu muserufu, zvavo, zvevamwe, kudanana, kushandirana, kunzwirana tsitsi, ndozvatinoda.
I now wish you all successful celebrations and memorable and safe National Heroes and Defence Forces holidays. I urge all road users, all road users and all drivers, all drivers to always exercise maximum caution.
I want to thank you.