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Mugabe outlines government programme

Below is the full text of President Robert Mugabe’s speech at the official opening of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, September 17, 2013:
Madame President of the Senate,
Mr Speaker, Sir,

Honourable Members of Parliament,
I welcome you all to the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe. The Session comes soon after our harmonised elections, which were held in an environment of prevailing peace and tranquillity.

The Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe will be seized with the task of aligning the existing various pieces of our legislation to the new Constitution. There will be need to come up with new legislation to give legal underpinning to the new structures and institutions provided for in the new Constitution. Additionally, the Eighth Parliament is expected to deal with outstanding legislative business, of the Seventh Parliament.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,

In recent years the performance of the agriculture sector has continued to be depressed owing mainly to recurrent droughts, erratic rainfall patterns and a lack of adequate funding. This trend, in turn, has weighed down on the performance of the entire economy, given that agriculture is the mainstay of our economy.

As part of strategies to mitigate the risks caused by droughts, Government will emphasise increased reliance on irrigation agriculture, and on water harvesting and conservation techniques. To alleviate the plight of our farmers who constantly bear the brunt of adverse weather conditions, Government will empower the farmers through the provision of inputs support and marketing incentives. We must employ strategies that avert our country from developing an over-reliance on food imports and handouts from donors.

Government will hasten the operationalisation of the Commodity Exchange of Zimbabwe, which is intended to serve as a market where farmers can market and fetch fair prices for their produce. Government will also expedite the completion of various strategic water development projects. The water projects have been boosted by Zimbabwe’s successful bid to host the Zambezi Water Course Commission, whose objective is the promotion of equitable and efficient utilisation of the water resources along the Zambezi Water Course. Pertaining to livestock, I wish to note that the Zimbabwe Livestock Drought Mitigation Programme, under which farmers in drought-prone areas are being assisted to save their livestock, will be continued in earnest.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The Land Commission Bill, to give legal underpinning to the establishment of the Zimbabwe Land Commission, will be brought to this House for debate during this Session. The Commission will take over the tasks and role previously performed by the Agricultural Land Settlement Board.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
Our economy continues to face numerous challenges characterised by declining production levels, high costs of production, company closures and high unemployment. As such, the pursuit of sustained economic recovery and growth is uppermost on the Government priority list.  In this regard, Government will, as it prioritises the implementation of sustainable pro-poor economic development initiatives hinged on the consolidation of macro-economic stability, effect the revival of key sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing.  This will require vigorous mobilisation of the requisite funding. As part of this thrust, the Banking Act Amendment Bill, which seeks to strengthen regulation of new forms of banking, will be brought for debate during this Session. Amendments to the Insurance Act, the Pension and Provident Funds Act, and the Insurance and Pension Commission Amendment Act, which collectively seek to enhance pension and insurance sector operations, will be up for debate during this Session.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,Advertisement

To address the challenge of declining capacity utilisation in the local industry and the widening trade deficit, Government will mobilise funding for the revival of closed and distressed strategic companies.

The Consumer Protection Bill and the Zimbabwe Quality Standards Regulatory Authority Bill, which seek to protect the rights of consumers and to foster fair trade, will be tabled in this august House during this Session.

In addition, efforts to promote both domestic and foreign investment will be enhanced within the context of the country’s indigenisation and empowerment laws. In particular, Government will pursue Public Private Partnerships and establish the Sovereign Wealth Fund as vehicles for mobilising resources for the critical programmes of public infrastructure, irrigation and rural development. During this Session, the Public Private Partnership Bill and the Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill will be brought to this august House for debate and consideration.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The mining sector is poised to play a greater catalytic role in the country’s industrial development process. In pursuance of this, consultations were held with stakeholders, on a Mining Development Policy and the promulgation of a new Mines and Minerals Bill. The prime objective of the envisaged legislation and policy framework is to boost mineral development and maximize benefits accruing to the country from its rich and diverse mineral endowment. The Bill will be discussed in this House during this Session.

Pertaining to the power sector, I am pleased to note that the power supply situation has significantly improved this year, owing to continuous rehabilitation works at the country’s power stations. The expansion of the Kariba and Hwange Power Stations, for which tenders have been awarded to Sino Hydro and China Machinery and Equipment Company, is expected to yield an additional 900 megawatts into the national grid.

Preliminary work on the construction of the 1 600 megawatts Batoka Hydro Power Plant has also started. Exploitation of the abundant solar energy will also be stepped up, following the receipt of over 500 mobile solar units from the People’s Republic of China. The coming on board of these projects will certainly bring about sustainable improvement in the overall power supply situation and enable the country to mitigate adverse effects arising from regional energy supply shortages.

On a related note, final steps will be taken to fully operationalise the ARDA-Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant which, alongside various private power-generating initiatives, should significantly augment the country’s power supply. Measures are afoot to ensure that during the first quarter of 2014, the blending of petrol with ethanol will have reached the E20 mandatory blending levels. Such a move will ensure fuel self-sufficiency, and more importantly, the project will trigger incremental job creation, thereby guaranteeing decent livelihoods for local communities and other citizens.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The tourism sector’s contribution to the country’s economy continues on an upward trajectory. With Zimbabwe and Zambia currently basking in the after-glow of their successful co-hosting of the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly, it behoves me therefore, to sincerely commend all stakeholders in Government and the private sector, whose collaborative efforts secured this landmark achievement. As we look ahead, therefore, we should strive to build on the momentum generated from the success of this premier event by replicating our mutual collaboration in other areas of our socio-economic development.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
Sound transport infrastructure is crucial in all national development activities. In this regard, my Government will continue the upgrading and dualisation of the national roads infrastructure through public-private partnership arrangements. The Border Posts Authority Bill, which will facilitate the efficient movement of all forms of traffic at the country’s border posts, together with a Bill to facilitate the takeover of the collection of toll fees from Zimra by Zinara, will also be tabled before this august House.

I am pleased to note that the turnaround of the national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, is now on a firm pedestal. Already, full reintroduction of domestic operations has been achieved, as well as the reintroduction of a second frequency for the Harare-Johannesburg route and of the Victoria Falls-Johannesburg frequency. Efforts to open up routes in the region, including to the DRC, Malawi and Tanzania, in a bid to improve connectivity within the region, are currently under way.

In addition, plans for the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway have reached an advanced stage.
On the environmental conservation front, Zimbabwe continues to pursue the establishment of sustainable transfrontier arrangements with its neighbours. In this regard, treaties for the establishment of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation and the Greater Mapungubwe Conservation Parks will be brought to this august House for ratification and accession. Furthermore, three multi-lateral agreements aimed at enhancing the contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development and human well-being will be tabled during the Eighth Session of Parliament. The agreements will include the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their utilisation; the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
Citizens in some of our urban centres, especially Harare and Bulawayo, have for quite some time endured unreliable water and sanitation services. This challenge stems mainly from the lack of capacity in some of the local authorities, the poor state of sanitation and water-related infrastructure, and excessive growth of our urban population.  I am pleased to note that disbursement of a US$144 million loan facility from China for the upgrading of Harare’s water and sanitation infrastructure will commence soon. In addition, the city will, in collaboration with an identified partner, implement a revamped water service delivery plan. The plan will see the construction of three new dams and additional water treatment plants over a period of seven years. This is expected to significantly improve water supply in the city. It is my hope that such turnaround initiatives will be replicated in Bulawayo and other cities.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
This august House shall also deliberate on the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill which will facilitate consultation, negotiation and co-operation among Government, Business and Labour. A Bill on the harmonisation of the country’s Labour Laws and their alignment with the International Labour Organisation Conventions acceded to by Zimbabwe, will also be tabled before this Parliament. Furthermore, the currently fragmented Occupational Health and Safety legislation will be consolidated and aligned to internationally accepted standards.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The new Constitution imposes on the State the obligation to take concrete and reasonable measures to prevent the spread of diseases and to treat health care as an inalienable right for every Zimbabwean citizen. The Health Services Act, the Medical Services Act, the Public Health Act, and such other pieces of legislation, will therefore be urgently amended to reflect this perspective. Over and above, Government will continue to work on the improvement of the conditions of employment of our health workers.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
Although Zimbabwe continues to outpace other countries in literacy, there is, however, need to transform the structure and curriculum of the country’s education system in order to adequately meet the evolving national development aspirations. This should see greater focus being placed on the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including a prioritisation of youth empowerment and entrepreneurship development. As part of efforts to broaden access to higher and tertiary education, Bills for the establishment of the Gwanda State University and the Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology shall also be tabled in Parliament during this Session.
Continuous advances in the field of Information Communication Technology present boundless opportunities for Government to be more connected to citizens, and for the improvement of business processes. On its part, Government is implementing an e-enabled programme which will see the automation of Government business management, and thereby obviating the bureaucratic logjam normally associated with manual processes. Benefits to accrue from implementation of the programme include the increased efficiency and quality of services to the citizens; broadening of access to public services by citizens; and reduction of revenue losses and incidents of corruption that tend to flourish under conditions of bureaucratic red tape.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The need to revamp our ailing parastatals into high-performance and competitive entities is more compelling. Considering that the entities have the potential to contribute about 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, the enterprises should serve as engines of socio-economic development. Accordingly, Government will be adopting measures aimed at systematically addressing the capacity weaknesses inherent in the management of most parastatals and local authorities. To reinforce this thrust, heads of all parastatals and local authorities will henceforth be required to sign performance contracts and to adopt the Results-Based Management approach in order to engender accountability for results and ensure efficient service delivery.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
My Government attaches great importance to the empowerment of its civil servants. To this end, work to upgrade infrastructure at Civil Service Institutions of Training and Development is in progress. Furthermore, Government is fully cognisant that our civil servants continue to discharge duties under difficult working conditions and low remuneration. Steps will therefore be taken to review their wages and salaries, as well as revive the provision of other non-monetary benefits.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
My Government will exercise zero tolerance to the scourge of corruption. Accordingly, structures to combat corruption shall be bolstered through the establishment of the National Prosecution Authority as prescribed in the new Constitution. This independent body is set to take over the functions previously performed by the Criminal Division of the Attorney-General’s Office. The composition of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission will also be aligned to the new Constitution, while Anti-Corruption Commissioners will be required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and to also publicly declare their personal assets.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
Numerous complaints have been raised over alleged abuse of resources from the Constituency Development Fund by some Members of the previous Parliament. To engender transparency and accountability in the handling of the resources, a Constituency Development Fund Bill shall be tabled in Parliament during this Session. Members of this new Parliament should take note that the law will descend heavily on all those who will abuse the Fund.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
Implementation of the country’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment laws is to be pursued with renewed vigour. This is in order to ensure that our people become significant stakeholders and not mere bystanders in the running of the national economy. To this end, the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund will be capitalised so as to give impetus to the implementation process. Government should mainstream indigenisation and empowerment programmes.  Indigenisation and Empowerment legislation will be reviewed and strengthened during this Session. In addition, a monitoring and evaluation mechanism will be put in place to ensure the proper management of Community Share Ownership Trusts.

Furthermore, following extensive consultations with representatives of the Public Service, Apex and Civil Service groups, the Zimbabwe Public Service Investment Trust was established. The Trust is the primary vehicle by which members of the Public Service will collectively participate in the Government’s indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The Micro, Small and Medium Policy Framework is currently being reviewed in order to enhance its employment potential and its capacity to eradicate poverty. Through co-operation with the Indian Government, Common Facility Centres are being established for purposes of imparting entrepreneurship skills to young unemployed graduates from our higher and tertiary institutions of learning. The graduates from these incubation centres will be assisted in starting up businesses of their own. A Savings and Credit Co-operatives Societies Bill to regulate the activities of these entities will be brought to this august House for debate, while the Co-operatives Societies Act will also be amended during this Session in order to align it with the other laws of the country.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
On the diplomatic front, we will continue to redouble efforts in promoting the political and economic interests and the image of Zimbabwe in the region and beyond. We will continue to play our part alongside other nations in the creation and maintenance of a peaceful regional and international environment. During the last Session of the Seventh Parliament, Zimbabwe acceded to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

A Bill to domesticate this Protocol has been drafted and will be presented before this august House. Once the Protocol is ratified, our country should be in a position to effectively deal with the heinous crime of trafficking in persons. With the elections now behind us, we look forward to meaningful and effective collaboration with all the progressive members of the global community. We indeed stand ready to work even with those who, before, were at odds with us. On the other hand, Zimbabwe will continue to demand the immediate and unconditional removal of the illegal sanctions imposed by some Western countries. Regionally, we will continue to play an active role in the African Union, Comesa and Sadc where we have recently been elected as Deputy Chair. We will therefore have the honour of hosting the Sadc Summit of Heads of State in August 2014, when we assume the chairmanship of the grouping.

Madame President,
Mr Speaker, Sir,
I wish, at this juncture, to thank our Security Forces for safeguarding the nation’s territorial integrity. Indeed they continue to raise the country’s flag very high as our true ambassadors on several United Nations peace-keeping missions. I also wish to extend my sincere gratitude to all Zimbabweans across the political divide for continuing to attach a high premium to the values of peace, nation building and love of our country. We should thus always cherish and jealously guard our national sovereignty for the sake of both ourselves and our future generations.

Let us therefore find strength in our diversity, and seek to play our respective roles in raising our country high on the perking order of the world community of nations. As we stand united under our national flag, singing and echoing from the heart the themes so beautifully encapsulated in our national anthem; let us proudly end up by saying

Long live Zimbabwe!
Long live our Unity in Diversity!
Long live our Peace and Sovereignty!
Madame President,

Mr Speaker, Sir,
On this note, allow me to commend these matters for your consideration and to declare this First Session of the Eighth Parliament of the Republic of Zimbabwe, duly open.

I thank you!