Mugabe says ready to work with West

The new Zanu (PF) government is ready to work with western countries to revive the economy, President Robert Mugabe said today while officially opening the 8th Parliament since independence in 1980.

Mugabe said, with elections now behind, his government looks forward to meaningful and effective collaboration with all progressive members of the global community. “We indeed stand ready to work even with those who, before, were at odds with us,” Mugabe told Parliament.

He however said on the other hand Zimbabwe would continue to demand the immediate and unconditional removal of restrictive measures imposed by some Western countries against him and some members of his inner circle in the early 2000s.

The US, EU and some Western countries imposed the restricted measures over Mugabe’s bad human rights record.

Mugabe said the 8th Parliament will be expected to deal with legislative business left incomplete by the 7th Parliament and come up with a legislation that would legalise new structures and institutions provided for in the new constitution.

He admitted that the farming sector which must be the mainstay of the economy remained depressed due to underfunding, recurrent drought and erratic rainfall patterns.

To mitigate the risks caused by droughts and other negative factors, government would assist with increased irrigation, water harvesting and conservation facilities, he said. Mugabe promised farmers inputs support and marketing incentives.

To bring the economy back to its feet, Mugabe said government would prioritise the revival of keys sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing.

He admitted that the economy continued to be characterised by declining production levels, high costs of production, company closures and high unemployment.

To address the challenge of declining capacity utilisation in the local industry, government would mobilise funding for the opening of closed and distressed companies.

Foreign and domestic investment will be promoted within the context of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation and empowerment laws, he added.

Due to restrictive local funding, government will resort to Public Private Partnerships and establish the Sovereign Wealth Fund for mobilising resources for programmes such as public infrastructure, irrigation and rural development.

To provide legal framework to means of reviving the economy, several bills such as The Public Private Partnership Bill, The Sovereign Wealth Bill, Mining Policy and The Promulgation of a new Mines and Minerals Bill, The Consumer Protection Bill and The Zimbabwe Quality Standards Regulatory Authority Bill will be tabled in the 8th Parliament.

Also to be tabled would be The Land Commission Bill, The Banking Act Amendment Bill while there will be some amendments to the Insurance Act, The Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Act and The Pensions Provident Funds Act, among others.

Mugabe noted that the expansion of the Kariba and Hwange Power Stations whose tenders had been awarded to Sino Hydro and China Machinery and Equipment Company, would produce some 900 megawatts for the national grid.

Construction of the 1 600 megawatts Batoka Hydro Power Plant is underway, according to the president. To help ease the power crisis, Mugabe said, Zimbabwe recently received some 500 mobile solar units from the People’s Republic of China.

The ARDA-Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant is also expected to be fully operational soon. The exclusively Zanu (PF) government would continue with the upgrading and dualisation of the national roads infrastructure as the cornerstone of economic development.

President Mugabe appreciated what he described as the turnaround of the National carrier, Air Zimbabwe, which has resumed domestic flights and increased trips between Harare and Johannesburg.

Government expects the $144 million loan facility from China to ease water and sanitation problems in Harare.

Mugabe told parliament that the new constitution imposes on the State the obligation to take preventive measures against the spread of diseases and treat health care as a right for every Zimbabwean.

“Relevant medical Acts would be urgently amended to reflect this constitutional requirement,” said Mugabe. Government will also transform the structure of the country’s education curriculum to meet needs of the economy.

The education curriculum would slant towards science, technology, engineering, mathematics and prioritisation of youth empowerment and entrepreneurship development.

During the 8th Parliament government will implement an e-enabled programme and do away with bureaucratic systems which promoted corruption, said Mugabe, adding that ailing parastatals will also be revamped ‘since they have the potential to contribute over 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.”

Civil servants’ working conditions, wages and salaries will be a priority issue for the Zanu (PF) government. Mugabe promised to fight corruption across all sectors of the economy through the National Prosecuting Authority.

The indigenisation policy which analysts and observers say scares away investors, according to Mugabe, will be pursued with vigour by his government. According to provisions in the policy, foreign owned companies are required by law to cede 51 percent shares to locals.

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