Main News Opinion & Columnist

Better days are coming: President

President Mnangagwa addresses the nation at State House in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Address to the nation by His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde E.D Mnangagwa yesterday

Fellow Zimbabweans; I address you today a month into the year which we believe will be prosperous and peaceful.

As Government, we continue to bolster our national resolve, determination and action plan towards arresting the impact and spread of the COVID-19 outbreak within our country.

The more infectious second wave which has touched the whole world has not spared Zimbabwe.

For over a month now, a dark cloud hovered over our nation as we painfully endured increased rate of loss of senior comrades in the Party and Government, professionals across various sectors, colleagues, friends and our beloved ones due to the pandemic.

Advertisement

Thankfully, the spike which shot up during the festive season into January, is beginning to ease.

On behalf of my Government, I would like to applaud you my fellow countrymen and women, for your resilience and continued adherence to COVID-19 lockdown measures and the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.

Your care for one another, positive attitude and public health behaviour has brought about a relatively flattened curve.

Together in unison and through our actions and our deployment of scientific options and prayer for our beloved nation, there is light at the end of the tunnel; we will win this war against COVID-19. We have not lost hope for a better future, we keep moving on.

You will recall that following the first case of the COVID-19 virus in March 2020 a comprehensive nationwide response strategy, which rested on drastic first front preventive measures, was deployed.

This initial strategy included a national lockdown complemented by the World Health Organisation public health protocols such as the washing of hands with soap under running water, and/or the use of sanitisers, social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks. These measures were necessary and impactful.

Through unity and the spirit of being each other’s keeper, we survived the pandemic’s first wave with remarkably low infections and fatalities. Sadly, the second wave has been dire and more infectious.

Amidst this global public health crisis, our scientific community is working hard, with significant breakthroughs being registered. Globally, there are now a handful of vaccines which are already in use and a few more at different stages of development. This has enhanced worldwide prospects for the mitigation of the pandemic, including within our nation.

Our overall National Response Strategy has reached a stage where we can now introduce vaccines as a second front preventative measure.

As such, COVID-19 vaccines which have been scientifically ascertained to be safe, will soon be introduced. These will be State-funded and free. The National Vaccination Strategy will continue to be guided by the best available scientific evidence and the safety of all Zimbabweans remaining a priority.

Advertisement

A national vaccine deployment framework has also been finalised. The initial objective is to inoculate at least 60 percent of the population to achieve population immunity. The first phase of inoculation of the vaccine will see our hard working front line workers, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions being prioritised.

Nevertheless, Government is aware that vaccines do not provide 100 percent protection or impart immunity. With this in mind, the present World Health Organisation public health protocols remain critical in the second phase, and must continue to be adhered to at all times, even after vaccines have been administered.

Government has set aside the requisite financial resources for the purchase of vaccines. In line with our policy of pooling national effort and resources, Government will also partner the corporate world and other players in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and related consumables. The recent meeting I convened with our business sector yielded notable and commendable results.

Allow me to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt and sincere gratitude to the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency, Xi Jinping, the Government and people of China for their kind donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

We applaud China for taking a leading role in contributing to our national vaccine deployment strategy and for its consistent humane policy of treating COVID-19 vaccines as global public goods. This kind gesture is in addition to the numerous donations, support and interventions made by China since the outbreak of the virus. It further attests to the fact that the People’s Republic of China is indeed a true friend of Zimbabwe, whose relations has been enhanced to strategic partnership and cooperation.

Over and above this support, the partnership under the African Union Global Fund COVAX Facility and other bilateral arrangements will see our country secure sufficient vaccines.

I would like to express our Nation’s deep indebtedness to all our frontline staff in the fight against the pandemic. Their continued exemplary dedication, sacrifice and commitment to duty is commendable.

To you, my countrymen and women, I want to remind you that the war is not yet over. We must renew our vigilance at all times so that we consolidate the current downward transmission trend through masking up, washing hands and practicing social distancing.

This is also in keeping with the exhortations made in the Bible in Exodus 30 verses 18-21 which talks of washing of hands and Leviticus 13 verses 4, 5 and 46, which talks on social distancing and Leviticus 13 verses 4 and 5 on quarantine.

Government will be making regular assessments of the situation to achieve the intricate balance between saving lives, livelihoods and our economy.

Advertisement

Fellow countrymen and women; since the advent of the Second Republic, we have strived to establish a culture of hard honest work, unity of purpose among the many different interests in our great nation. We are indeed diverse, but one.

Now we can proudly say that we are a stronger nation, more united and peaceful. We have stood together in the midst of many challenges from the economy, to droughts, cyclones and now this pandemic.

Our experiences have toughened us and should indeed embolden us for the tasks that are ahead towards building a prosperous nation. Let our spirits not be dampened or deterred by sideshows.

We are writing our history and charting our own course. Success and the realisation of the vision for economic growth, prosperity, development, modernisation and a better quality of life for all our people, is on the horizon.

Through the rapid implementation of the National Development Strategy 1, and buoyant agriculture and mining sectors; we remain positive about the prospects of notable economic growth in 2021.

To date, our flourishing progress has seen stability of the foreign exchange rate and prices of our goods and services. As a responsible and patriotic people, I urge all of us, across all economic spectrums, to persistently play our part in maintaining this stabi

My administration will continue along the path of a balanced budget and a balanced economy which gives due attention to all areas of our economy and society.

This will be consistently informed by the principles of equalisation and devolved development which has so far led to transformation of the social and infrastructure landscape in our rural areas.

This approach has been resourced so that every province, district, ward or suburb in our country, in both urban and rural areas experiences quality social services and increased economic opportunities. Government is, however, deeply concerned with the illegal expansive construction in wetlands and river basins as well as the construction of houses without the provision of requisite infrastructure such as road, water, sewer and electricity.

The current excellent rains received across the country has exposed and lay bare the extent of the associated problems in unplanned settlements in our urban, peri-urban and growth points.

Henceforth, relevant Ministries are being constituted into working groups that will focus on social service delivery as well as arresting the negative impact of the chaotic, unplanned illegal settlements in growth points, towns and cities.

Meanwhile, alternative spaces have to be urgently identified and developed for relocation of families with houses built on wetlands and other undesignated areas. The Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, along with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies must immediately identify such areas and ascertain the quantum of affected households.

Furthermore, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), should identify and designate all wetlands around the country as unsuitable spaces for human settlements. Going forward, boundaries marking rural and urban land must be enforced or redrawn according to relevant laws.

The redress of this undesirable and worrisome situation is being urgently and decisively undertaken across all local authorities. The current urban local authorities have all failed us.

Fellow Zimbabweans; the current agriculture season is promising to result in a bumper harvest and food self sufficiency, with provinces having received above normal rainfall. Inflow to major dams has been good, with some reaching full capacity. This in-turn positively impacts our irrigation potential in the coming seasons.

Government stands ready to strengthen the confidence of investors and business alike. We are also consolidating our export and bilateral investment promotion strategies given the enhanced economic integration under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

The momentum witnessed in the past few years which saw increased local capacity utilisation and optimal production and productivity across all sectors, must continue. Ministries and Agencies are available to facilitate the convenient flow of trade and exports which will ultimately benefit our people and the nation as a whole.

Fellow Zimbabweans; let us love our country and do that which is right, and in our National interest. With our goal of growth and prosperity in focus; corruption, criminality and delinquency should be permanently expunged from our society in favour of peace, harmony and lawful conduct.

The preservation of our democratic principles, constitutional values and the rule of law must be upheld by all citizens, with no exceptions.

Those in the criminal justice system and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission are urged to decisively and swiftly bring perpetrators of crime and corruption to book.

On the international relations front; Zimbabwe is committed to remain being a good neighbour to all and making a positive contribution within the comity of nations, for a better world.

In the spirit of multilateralism and guided by the ideals of the United Nations Charter; we will esteem and extend mutual respect to all nations. Our country in-turn expects the same from other members of the global community, as we together advance sustainable economic growth, democracy and a more peaceful world.

As I conclude, I once again urge us all to remain resolute and hopeful. This pandemic and the constraints, insecurity and anxieties it has brought along will surely end. Let us not despair, Zimbabwe is rising. Together we will cross the finish line and achieve Vision 2030. For now, we must carry on looking after each other, protecting the vulnerable and protecting our loved ones.

God bless you all.

God bless Zimbabwe.

I thank you.

HERALD