Full Text of the President's Speech at Opening of Parliament 28 October 2014

PRESIDENT MUGABE’S SPEECH

AT THE OPENING OF THE SECOND SESSION

OF THE EIGHTH PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

28th October 2014

Madame President of the Senate,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

Honourable Members of Parliament,

I welcome you all to the Official Opening of the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

In fulfillment of its constitutional mandate, Parliament will, during the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament, place great emphasis on the alignment of laws to the Constitution and the reviewing of existing and enacting of new legislation that lends support to the attainment of the goals of socio-economic development in general, and to those of ZIM ASSET in particular.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

It is also hoped that while the New Income Tax Bill will be enacted during this Session, the Insurance Act and the Pension and Provident Funds Act will be amended to address deficiencies in the current legislation and align them with international best practice. The Debt Management Bill, which provides a framework for addressing the national debt problem, shall also be tabled during this Parliamentary Session.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

Our people could have been prejudiced in terms of their pensions and insurance in the change-over from the Zimbabwe dollar to the United States dollar currency. Government is therefore launching a Commission of Inquiry to establish the processes and methods used to convert pension and insurance policy values from the Zimbabwean to United States dollars. The findings of the Commission and the recommendations thereof should assist in restoring public confidence in the local pensions and insurance industry.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The agriculture sector, the mainstay of our economy, registered positive growth during the 2013 – 2014 agricultural season. This greatly improved household food security for our people. Experts have predicted that the 2014 – 2015 rainy season should also be a favourable one. This augurs well for our efforts to reinforce the sector’s recovery. Government will, once again, provide crop and livestock input packs, as well as tillage services to communal, resettlement, small scale, commercial and A1 farmers. It will also be necessary to address the high cost of fertilizers, water and electricity, so as to improve the competitiveness of our agricultural system.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

Global trends point to the growing involvement of the private sector in the provision of public infrastructure and services. To facilitate the implementation of the joint venture infrastructural projects envisaged under ZIM ASSET, a Joint Venture Bill shall be tabled before this Parliament. In addition, the Procurement Act shall be amended to render the public procurement process more efficient, transparent and in consonance with other policy initiatives and developments in the technological front.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The mining sector is projected to play a leading role in the recovery and development of the national economy. The sector is a source of investment, employment creation, raw materials and export earnings. To boost its potential, priority shall be accorded to value addition, product beneficiation and the fostering of utmost transparency and fairness in the mining and sale of minerals. In pursuance of this, therefore, work on the establishment of diamond cutting and polishing centres, a Zimbabwe Diamond Bourse, a Platinum Refinery and a Ferrochrome Smelting Plant, is already in progress.

While the Mineral Exploration Promotion Corporation is being set up to replace the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, prime focus is placed on mineral exploration and promotion. All our artisanal miners are to be registered and closely supervised, to ensure that they stick to environmentally friendly mining practices and to minimize leakages of minerals.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The successful implementation of the ZIM ASSET hinges on the provision of adequate energy to all sectors of the economy. To this end, therefore, various initiatives to boost power generation are at varying stages of implementation. These include the Kariba South Expansion Project; the ZPC/Sinohydro Hwange Thermal Power Station Units 7 and 8 Project; and several other smaller projects which, when complete, should yield a total of 5 000 megawatts by 2020.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The revival of the industrial sector remains a pressing need for Government and other stakeholders. The sector’s performance is currently constrained by, among other factors, unreliable and costly utilities, lack of affordable long-term finance, weak business linkages and dependency on obsolete machinery and technology. We are also aware of concerns over the implementation of the country’s tax system, which is perceived to be stifling business growth. The matter is being attended to. Government, in collaboration with some development partners, is working on measures to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Special Economic Zones shall be introduced as a vehicle to stimulate foreign direct investment, technology transfer and employment generation. Labour laws are being reviewed in a bid to improve business and investment conditions in the country. Furthermore, the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill, which seeks to render the Tripartite Negotiating Forum more effective, accountable and responsive to the development needs of the nation, will be tabled in this House during this Session.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The tourism sector continues to be a vibrant economic growth node. In addition to on-going marketing programmes with the traditional source markets, efforts are being made to boost tourist arrivals from other source markets, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. Already, Government has succeeded in raising the generalised Approved Destination Status with China to a full-fledged Memorandum of Understanding. The KAZA Zimbabwe-Zambia Univisa Pilot Project, is to be launched in the context of the SADC Univisa regime, this in order to boost the sector’s performance.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

Poor transport infrastructure has been a drawback in the country’s socio-economic development process. I am, therefore, pleased to note that the upgrading of the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare Highway, the Harare International Airport Road Dualisation Project, and the construction of a new four-kilometre runway and terminal building at Victoria Falls International Airport, are progressing well. Implementation of the other road infrastructure projects, covered under Memoranda of Understanding recently concluded with the People’s Republic of China, will soon take off.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

Information Communication Technology is a vital source of economic competitiveness. Institutions have to be compliant or risk falling by the wayside. On its part, Government will soon launch a revised National ICT Policy to facilitate ICT development and management across all sectors of the economy. The Electronic Transactions Bill, the Cybercrime Bill, and the Data Protection Bill will be enacted to provide legal underpinning to the Policy.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

Having taken the position that our people should not be reduced to mere appendages in the economic processes of their country, we made the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act an integral part of our statutes. However, it is depressing that some of our people have turned themselves into mere fronts for foreign investors, thus defeating the fundamental objective of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme. Decisive action shall indeed be taken to address these negative developments and to strengthen the general enforcement of the relevant legislation. Companies that pledged funds under the Community Share Ownership Schemes are advised to honour their commitments.

The Government will continue to refine the measures to facilitate the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises into big formal businesses. This thrust will be buttressed by the promotion of joint venture partnerships in the provision of suitable workspace and amenities for players in this vital sector.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, Government attaches great importance to youth development since the youth are the custodians of the nation’s future. Accordingly, youth desks shall be established in all ministries in order to ensure that youth development programmes are mainstreamed in all national development policies. Resources permitting, every local government rural district area shall have at least one youth vocational training centre.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The economic melt-down, precipitated by the illegal sanctions imposed on our country for close to two decades, has severely weakened the country’s health service delivery system. The Public Health Bill, which seeks to promote quality health service delivery, shall be tabled during this Session. Our efforts to support the Ministry’s recovery are set to be boosted by the US$89 million loan facility concluded with China Exim Bank for the procurement of medical equipment, ambulances and other accessories. Eventually, specialist surgical operations will be performed locally, thereby obviating the need for Zimbabweans to incur huge costs through seeking such services abroad.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

To provide access to university education for all eligible Zimbabweans, Government has established a State university in every province. During this Session, therefore, Bills for the establishment of the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences, and the Gwanda State University will be tabled in this august House. Work on the establishment of the Pan African Minerals University of Science and Technology in Harare is at an advanced stage.

Furthermore, the Primary and Secondary School curriculum is also being reviewed so as to align the country’s education system with the national development needs. This should see greater emphasis being put on the learning of science, technology and mathematics. The e-learning programme, in conjunction with the Presidential Computer Programme, is also being introduced at all school levels.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The provision of adequate water and sanitation services remains a problem for some of our major urban centres. The on-going Harare water rehabilitation programme, under the US$144 million China Exim Bank loan facility, is progressing well. The programme, scheduled for completion in 2016, is expected to increase the city’s water pumping capacity to 630 mega litres per day. Construction of the Mtshabezi Dam to augment water supply to the City of Bulawayo should move at a faster pace, following the conclusion of financing facility with the Chinese Government. The water and sanitation upgrading programme will also be rolled out to other centres and rural service points.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

As part of efforts to address the huge housing backlog, Government recently launched the National Housing Delivery Programme, which will deliver 313 283 residential stands nationwide. We also acknowledge the efforts of other stakeholders who are complementing Government efforts in this noble exercise. There is, however, need to address the issue of the costing models in order to ensure affordability of residential stands and houses for the generality of our citizens. Government also expects Local Authorities to comply with the guidelines and procedures for regularising some of the illegal settlements which have sprouted, mostly around major urban centres.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

The country takes pride in having been awarded the opportunity to host the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under 20 Youth Games from 5th to 14th December, 2014. The Games, which will draw participants from twelve SADC countries, should stimulate the recovery of the City of Bulawayo, especially in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

During this Session, Parliament shall also consider the Bill for the transformation of the National Defence College into a National Defence University. The University will provide higher education and training in national policy and strategy formulation for senior military and civilian leaders under the discipline of national defence and security. Let me take this opportunity to applaud our Security Forces for their unwavering commitment in safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity, peace and security.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

On the diplomatic front, as always, we stand ready to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with all members of the international community, on the basis of mutual respect and sovereign equality. We continue to call for the reform of key organs of the United Nations, to accord all its members an equal voice, in keeping with the basic tenets of international law and democracy. We indeed stand opposed to the unilateralism of some nations, who act as if they hold the royal rod over other mortals. We also continue to relentlessly demand the total removal of the illegal sanctions imposed upon us.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir,

As we forge ahead, as a nation, let us remain united in our quest to build a foundation for lasting peace, which, without doubt, is the precursor to, and stimulus for, sustainable national development. Indeed, as Members of Parliament, we bear on our shoulders the interests and hopes of all our people. We should, therefore, discharge our esteemed mandate in a manner that does not erode their stock of trust in us. The Legislature will, therefore, demand total commitment and participation from all of us, from the Executive to members of the public.

Allow me now, therefore, to commend these matters for your consideration, and to declare this, the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe, duly open.

I thank you.

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