President speaks on land

The Land Reform Programme, which redressed colonial land imbalances by giving land to black Zimbabweans at the turn of the millennium is irreversible and what the Government is doing now is implementing the dictates of the Constitution, President Mnangagwa has said.

Addressing members of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) at State House yesterday, the President said there won’t be any vacillation on the land issue.

“Let me restate that the Land Reform Programme is irreversible. To this end, there is no vacillation. The current processes with regards to land issues entail the implementation of provisions of our national Constitution, in particular, Section 295 as it relates to black indigenous Zimbabweans. I urge all farmers to remain focused on preparing for a successful 2020-2021 season,” he said.

Not more than 37 white former commercial farmers who were protected by bilateral agreements between Zimbabwe and their Governments will benefit from the latest statutory instrument which brings finality to the irreversibility of the Land Reform Programme.

The rest of the white former farmers will be compensated, for developments they made on the farms and not the land under the Global Compensation Deed signed by the Government and their representatives last month as the Second Republic fulfils provisions in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, just like white former farmers who were protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs), a handful of black former farm owners, who lost their pieces of land during the revolutionary Land Reform Programme will also have the option of returning to their former farms depending on circumstances on the ground.

On Monday, the Government announced that it will offer land back to black farmers whose land was compulsorily acquired during the land reform programme and white former farmers whose farms are protected by BIPPA.

The position taken by the Government to fulfil the dictates of the country’s Constitution prompted some within the opposition to claim that Zimbabwe was reversing the land reform programme.

The President told leaders from different political parties that the country is now accelerating the pace towards economic stabilisation and growth and reiterated that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe as is being purveyed by detractors.

POLAD is an interactive platform for opposition political parties to engage with the Government so as to come up with a shared national vision.

Updating POLAD members on progress made in fighting Covid-19, the President said although there has been a worrisome spike in the number of infections attributable to local transmissions, there has been a corresponding rise in the recovery rate, which is now at 80 percent.

“The loss of 206 people to date is regrettable. Every effort is being made to ensure that all citizens are safe hence the need to continuously vary the lockdown measures.

“My compatriots, it is in line with enforcing these measures that some sections of society have cried foul. In the wake of the arrest of some elements whose actions sought to not only incite the public to gather against the set rules but also bordering on subversive allegations of a crisis have been made mainly in social media platforms.

“I wish to unequivocally state that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe as elections were held in July 2018 and a winner was declared in

terms of the country’s Constitution. All contestants were invited to join this dialogue in the national interest.

“The door is still open for those outside. Government continues to make huge strides towards development all round, using limited resources,” he said.

The President also updated the political actors on the progress that Zimbabwe has made in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, such as identifying health facilities to handle the global scourge.

“The country is still under lockdown and enforcement measures continue to be streamlined in line with the level of the threat. Government continues to urge citizens to strictly adhere to the set requirements to guarantee their safety. The safety of our frontline staff remains at the core of our efforts and just this week Government released US$2.4 million to procure the much needed PPE, delivery of which commenced on August 27, 2020”.

The President added that of the pledged $2.985 billion, $1.6 billion has been released to ministries, Government departments and agencies to cushion them from the effects of the global plague that has caused a worldwide economic recession.

“Besides causing challenges to our development, Covid-19 has also provided opportunities for growth towards self-reliance, particularly in the health sector. Our universities and tertiary institutions have led in this regard with most PPEs now being manufactured locally.

“Our local industry has also been quite forthcoming, leaving us to import only the high level PPEs for use in highly infectious environments,” he said.

Another silver lining on the dark Covid-19 cloud, includes the development of Africa’s first virtual communication and collaboration platform, the Glue Virtual Platform, that was devised by the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services (ICTPCS), a project that was conceived by Zimbabweans based locally and in South Africa.

“The platform is expected to reduce the continent’s dependence on platforms developed elsewhere. Various locally-developed software is also at various levels of development and testing in Government,” he said.

Yesterday, the POLAD meeting was attended by Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya as per the request of the opposition leaders who were updated on the various initiatives that are being undertaken by Government to stabilise the economy and ensure growth.

On the economic front, the President said Zimbabwe, with its limited resources continues to register significant growth notwithstanding the continued existence of illegal and punitive economic sanctions that were imposed by the country’s detractors to punish the country for daring to repossess its land.

“Government has gone out of its way to institute innovative measures to spur the country’s development. This is evidenced by the various infrastructural projects that are evident as you traverse our major highways and communities in terms of schools and health centres.”

With the Government under the Second Republic spending within budget, the projects, that are being carried and which have transformed Zimbabwe towards realising Vision 2030, to become an upper middle class economy, are for the most part funded locally.

“An $18.2 billion package was awarded in the 2020 budget to support industry, including the sports and arts sectors to mitigate the Covid-19 induced hardships. The Social Welfare Programme was enhanced to cover micro-small and medium enterprises too.

“Also, much progress has been made towards the achievement of a US$12 billion Mining Industry by 2025. My recent visit to Hwange revealed unassailable progress in the implementation of the coal hydrocarbons development plans where it emerged that the country has over 5 000 megawatts of power in the pipeline, which should see Zimbabwe not only becoming self-sufficient in electric power generation by 2023, but also a net exporter of electricity.”

The projects that the President visited in Hwange are private sector led and testimony of the fact that the country’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” policy is bearing fruit as investors flow all the while creating jobs.

In pursuit of Vision 2030, agriculture, tourism and mining are expected to contribute towards the realisation of a US$25 billion economy by 2025.

Apart from the US$8.2 billion Agriculture Recovery and Livestock Growth Strategy, Zimbabwe is also pursuing a US$5 billion Tourism Strategy along with the Mining Industry Strategy which is expected to contribute US$12 billion, with signs on the ground showing that this could be achieved well before 2025.

The President told leaders of opposition parties that Government has come up with pro-people initiatives such as the Pfumvudza agriculture concept, meant to climate-proof agriculture and enhance yields.

Furthermore, the Second Republic has also secured agriculture implements from Belarus and John Deere, to improve production and productivity, the President said.

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