Honourable Vice President, Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa and Amai,
Honourable Vice President, Comrade Phelekezela Mphoko and Amai
The Minister of Harare Metropolitan Province, Honourable Miriam Chikukwa and other
Ministers here present,
The President of the Senate, Mai Edna Madzongwe,
The Speaker of the National Assembly,
Advocate Jacob Mudenda,
The Chief Justice, Honourable Luke Malaba,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Our Traditional Leaders,
Families of Heroes of the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle,
War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex- Detainees and Restrictees,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Esteemed Foreign Guests and Visitors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and Friends.
Today I heartily congratulate all our people who have gathered throughout the country to celebrate, as united Zimbabweans, our country’s 37th Independence Anniversary. To a free and sovereign Zimbabwe, I say Makorokoto! Amhlophe! Congratulations!
On our Independence Day, we remind ourselves that our people, trained in the battlefield or in “keeps”, detention centres, prisons, or even villages, endured untold suffering at the hands of colonisers, in the arduous struggle to liberate Zimbabwe. Today we want to pay tribute to all our heroes and heroines, all our people who, united, resolute and courageous, together fought the protracted revolutionary war, which ushered in our National Independence in 1980.
Fellow Zimbabweans, all the sacrifices we endured were not in vain, we attained our Independence and now enjoy our freedom and independence. In 2000, we launched our Land Reform Programme and took back our land which now is under our full control and is for us to work on, build on and profit from.
But the assignment is not yet complete. It still is incumbent upon us all to translate into true meaning that freedom, sovereignty and independence. As Government, we should continue to pursue development programmes and socio-economic policies that consolidate our true Independence.
Thus, Government has since Independence put in place a number of programmes that are targeted at the transformation, sustenance and revitalisation of our country’s economy. Through the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), our country’s economic blueprint since 2013, we aspire to achieve self-determination and economic growth.
The agricultural intervention programme we embarked upon in 2016 is another case in point. It is a broad-based programme that seeks to transform our economy. It is two-tiered: Command Agriculture, which targets farmers who have irrigation facilities, and the Presidential Input Support Programme, which subsidises inputs for our small-scale and peasant farmers, so they could speedily recover from the 2015-2016 drought which had crippled them. So the agriculture sector is now going to grow by the projected figure of 12 percent.
Whereas we were happy to have received above-normal rains in the 2016-2017 summer season, beginning mid-February 2017, the larger part of the country experienced heavy and incessant rains that surpassed all previous years, resulting in severe flooding. Sadly, this led to the loss of several people mainly due to lightning strikes, drowning and landslides, with hundreds more being left injured and homeless. Roads, bridges, schools, clinics and dams were extensively damaged.
In order to pave way for the mobilisation of resources to attend to this challenge, and in line with the Civil Protection Act, Government, on 2nd March 2017, declared a State of Flood Disaster.
The mining sector remains crucial to the Zimbabwe economy, with the sector contributing more than 50 percent of exports and 16 percent to the country’s 2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is a lot of work which is going on in that sector, not least the reorganisation whose completion we impatiently await. Going forward, much is expected from this important sector. It must play its part towards this overall development vision we have. I am happy our small-scale producers are working hard, and selling their output lawfully, through designated national channels.
With respect to the manufacturing sector, Government continues to implement specific policy measures such as the management of imports, investment approvals, fiscal incentives and the Buy Zimbabwe campaign initiative, with a view to spur industrial development, and refocus the productive sectors of the economy towards value addition and export orientation. These efforts have resulted in an increase in the manufacturing sector capacity utilisation from 34,3 percent recorded in 2015 to 47,4 percent in 2016.
The tourism sector is poised to realise a positive growth trajectory, as it now focuses on development of community-based tourism enterprises in the country’s provinces. The ministry’s new thrust is to have communities participate directly in tourism, through their managing and developing the broad range of unique and diverse products and services that they host and produce in their local areas.
The major road system, on which the country’s economic development is heavily dependent, has recently taken a definite trend towards improvement. This is in spite of the heavy rains that have played havoc on the roads. We are pleased that the long awaited Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road is finally going to start. The project, which is set to have significant positive subcontracting arrangements to indigenous companies, will be to the value of US$400 million. It is also set to boost local production of sourced materials, and is poised to create employment for our people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises play a very significant role in the overall economic growth of our country, particularly in the creation of employment for the majority of our people. In view of this, Government has implemented policies that enhance the business environment in which SMEs operate. In 2016, Government, through the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, a ministry introduced after attainment of our Independence, exposed 1 700 micro, small and medium enterprises through exhibitions to both local and international markets.
Comrades and Friends,
We all should be pleased that since January 2016, the country achieved a 15- month period without load-shedding. Power supplies, which as we all know, have a strong bearing on the performance of industry, have recently become stable due to a number of factors. These include the improved generation from local power plants and imports from ESKOM of South Africa and Hydro Cahora Basa (HCB) of Mozambique.
To further increase and stabilise electricity generation, several other projects are being pursued in the short to medium term. Among them are the Kariba South Expansion Project, now at 78 percent complete, and is set to have units commissioned in December 2017.
In the health sector, Government has made great strides in improving the health of the nation. Recently, the ministry procured new medical equipment which should see our hospitals offering better services that are much closer to the people. The special equipment ranges from dialysis machines, Computerised Tomography (CT) scan machines and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines for both central and provincial hospitals. The Mpilo radiotherapy centre for cancer will soon be operational and this will help relieve the pressure on Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Regarding education, the Curriculum Framework 2015-2022 for Primary and Secondary Education provides a broad range of learning areas that respond to the needs of every learner. The new curriculum, an improvement on the previous one, has a broad skills and competence-driven menu from which learners can identify their areas of strength. The Curriculum Framework 2015-2022 will support and sustain the transition from school to the world of work.
In order to align the current primary and secondary school curricula changes, a parallel Teacher Education Curriculum Review exercise was undertaken in 2016. The capacitation of teachers’ colleges and those teachers already in the field is ongoing, so that all can meet the requirements, and gain the confidence in implementing the new primary and secondary curriculum.
In order to promote the sporting industry in the country, Government has developed a Team Zimbabwe Selection Policy that provides an opportunity to all Zimbabweans, irrespective of gender, race, colour or creed. Sportspersons are to be selected on merit to represent the country at national, regional and international competitions, in the various sport disciplines.
In pursuit of providing decent housing for all, Government has fully serviced 52 000 stands, and also completed housing units, thereby surpassing the Zim-Asset target of delivering 25 000 stands/ completed housing units. In this regard, the development of stand-alone, self-sustaining new urban centres is expected to significantly reduce the national housing backlog.
The nation applauds the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and all other security services for their continued commitment to carrying out their constitutional mandate of safeguarding the country’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, peace and stability. Last February, the security services, as they have done before, played a critical role in rescuing marooned and displaced persons in the flood-affected areas.
Additionally, in 2015-2016, security forces also deployed their manpower and vehicles to assist in the distribution of grain to drought-affected areas. Furthermore, they conducted their usual community assistance programmes that were targeted at assisting under-privileged communities, through construction and rehabilitation of public facilities such as schools, roads and clinics.
Comrades and Friends,
As we today celebrate our hard-won Independence, I urge you to remain vigilant, remembering that the enemy is ever ready to pounce on any signs of laxity on our part. We celebrate, as a united people, who should, at all times, hold dear peace and tranquillity, the cornerstone requirements of our national economic development. Even as we prepare for our general elections next year, let us do so as true patriots, sons and daughters of the soil, who value the one and only precious Zimbabwe that we have.
Once again let me say:
Happy 37th Birthday Zimbabwe!
Long Live Zimbabwe!
Long Live our Freedom and Independence!
I thank you.