‘Honouring obligations top priority’

Wallace Ruzvidzo Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE is committed to honouring its obligations to bilateral and multilateral creditors even as it is weighed down by the unjustified burden of economic sanctions, President Mnangagwa has said.

Sanctions notwithstanding, the country has been addressing the debt overhang, a testament to its commitment to servicing the debt.

Speaking at a New Year reception he hosted for Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations at State House in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the support of the international community remained essential in Zimbabwe’s endeavours.

“The Government of Zimbabwe is committed to honouring its obligations to bilateral and multilateral creditors. To this end, in 2023 Zimbabwe made significant progress in addressing the debt overhang.

“I pay tribute to our high-level facilitators, His Excellency former President Joachim Chissano and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, who continue to advance this process under the structured dialogue meetings.

“The support of development partners who have embraced this dialogue process is most welcome and appreciated,” he said.

While progress has been made in Zimbabwe’s debt restructuring efforts, President Mnangagwa said it was “regrettable” that some individual countries were pushing for reforms founded on their conditions and preferences.

Such stances, he said, had seen the country reeling under punitive Western imposed measures which all but threatened the country’s developmental prospects.

He expressed gratitude for the support rendered by the African Union and SADC in calling for the removal of sanctions.

“I take note that, while progress has been made, the continued insistence by individual member States for Zimbabwe to fulfil reforms based on their conditionalities and preferences is regrettable, and underlines the need for greater goodwill and honesty in the process.

“Notwithstanding the progress, Zimbabwe continues to bear the brunt of illegal sanctions. These sanctions continue to weaken our efforts to chart our development path without undue interference,” President Mnangagwa said.

“I express my gratitude for the continued solidarity which Zimbabwe has received from SADC, the AU and progressive nations in our fight against the illegal sanctions. I once again call for the immediate and unconditional removal of the sanctions.”

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was ready to strengthen co-operation and partnerships with all friendly countries at all levels.

This, he said, would see through the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as respective countries’ national goals.

“The Government of Zimbabwe is ready to strengthen co-operation and partnerships with your respective jurisdictions at the level of Government-to-Government, business-to-business and people-to-[eople. This will allow Zimbabwe and your countries to deepen all areas of co-operation for the realisation of the SDGs and national priority areas for the benefit of our people. Together, in unity of purpose, we can achieve more.

“We are pleased to highlight that, in line with our engagement and re-engagement policy, Zimbabwe has opened new missions in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Equatorial Guinea. We envisage that this direct representation will facilitate greater economic interactions with host countries,” said the President.

Under the Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra, the President said the country stood ready to welcome foreign investments from the diplomatic corps’ respective jurisdictions.

“On the economic development and investment front, we look forward and stand ready to welcome capital from your jurisdictions. Zimbabwe is Open for Business.

“Through the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, investment processes are now more efficient in line with international best practices. To further strengthen the enabling economic environment, the backbone infrastructure with regards energy and power is continuously being developed. The Hwange Units 7 and 8 expansion project has had a positive impact.

“In mining, the recent discovery of gas, oil and vast lithium deposits as well as our value addition and beneficiation drive are all propelling our efforts to become an upper middle-Income Society by 2030,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe requires the support of the international community to secure a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and emphasised the country’s commitment to peace and dialogue in times of conflict.

This comes in the wake of disturbances in the Middle East that have seen the loss of lives and destruction of infrastructure.

“Meanwhile, we look forward to your support in various areas, including Zimbabwe’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the period 2027-2028.

“Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none. We, therefore, reaffirm our commitment to peaceful co-existence and dialogue as a means to resolve conflicts around the world.

“We continue to call for lasting solutions to challenges in the Middle East and full implementation of UN resolutions with regards Western Sahara,” he said.

Zimbabwe, said President Mnangagwa, was committed to putting in place critical enablers for regional and continental trade and engagements.

This has seen the Second Republic embark on a massive infrastructure development drive.

“Infrastructure development remains key to enhancing our connectivity as a land-linked country. Hence, the prioritisation and modernisation of cross-border infrastructure development projects remain priority areas of my Government. Equally, Zimbabwe is determined to put in place the critical enablers to accelerate the regional and continental integration agenda.

“To this end, the ongoing rehabilitation of roads and ports of entry is earmarked to contribute to the shared aspirations of SADC and the African Union.

“The expansion project of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport has enhanced our passenger capacity, while providing the supporting infrastructure for tourism and transport services. I express my gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for this signature project,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said his administration was also working on ensuring Diaspora participation in the country’s economic development.

“Under the Second Republic, no one and no place is being left behind. My Government is, thus, scaling up the involvement and participation of our Diaspora in the national development agenda.

“Efforts are being targeted towards ensuring that the economic dividends of our Diaspora, coupled with their diverse skills and experiences, spur modernisation, industrialisation and sustainable development.

“These efforts, combined with the contribution of local industry, foreign direct investment and other strategic partnerships, are positively impacting on our economy,” he said.

As the incoming Chair of SADC, President Mnangagwa reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s commitment to furthering the AU’s Agenda 2063.

“As you may be aware, Zimbabwe will host the 44th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in August this year. As the incoming Chair of SADC, I reaffirm my commitment to furthering goals and aspirations of our region, in line with the AU Agenda 2063. I look forward to your support in this regard.

“I also invite you to participate and support my Government in hosting the 56th Session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which begins next week,” he said.

The President expressed gratitude to various development partners for their support as Zimbabwe continues to consolidate its food security.

“We are grateful for the co-operation from various development partners to augment our domestic efforts to realise sustained food security, while also building greater community resilience and adaptive capacities.

“Further, my Administration acknowledges the bilateral and multilateral efforts that saw our country contain the outbreak of cholera earlier this year,” he said.

President Mnangagwa also expressed the country’s sympathy with countries affected by climate change induced natural disasters.

He said Zimbabwe stood ready to scale up efforts to mitigate the phenomena’s negative impacts.

“We gather at a time when climate change-induced disasters continue to destroy our environments, economies, lives and livelihoods. Natural catastrophes are affecting several countries. Zimbabwe empathises with affected jurisdictions both on the African Continent and beyond, who continue to lose livelihoods and property as a result of climate change.

“To de-risk the effects of this undesirable phenomenon, concerted multilateral efforts must be scaled up under the architecture of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Zimbabwe is ready to play its part in this regard,” said the President.

In a speech read on his behalf by Egyptian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Salwa Mowafi, the Dean of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations, Mr Jose Ela Ebang Mbang, said Zimbabwe was making invaluable contributions at all levels.

“We recognise the significant contributions of the Republic of Zimbabwe in regional, continental and international quarters. Indeed the world needs Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe needs the world,” said Mr Mbang who is also Equatorial Guinea Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava said Zimbabwe was committed to continuously nurturing relations with other countries under the engagement and re-engagement diplomatic drive.

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