Levi Mukarati/Patrick Chitumba/Munyaradzi Musiiwa in Mvuma
THE Government’s business-friendly policies have restored confidence in Zimbabwe’s economy as seen in the surging number of investors flocking into the country, President Mnangagwa has said.
The President expressed satisfaction with the way Zimbabwe was now attracting high-value investors, among them Russian billionaire, Mr Dmitry Mazepin, who was in the country last week to explore fertiliser manufacturing and mining investments. President Mnangagwa was addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters here yesterday.
The President said, “We are now saying Zimbabwe is open for business, Zimbabwe is open for business.”
He said soon after he became President, he visited South African President Jacob Zuma as the chairman of Sadc, and also had the opportunity to meet business people based outside the country who promised to invest back home.
On foreign relations, President Mnangagwa said British Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May, an hour after his inauguration in November, sent her envoy to discuss possible re-engagement with Zimbabwe.
“One hour of the new dispensation, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mrs Theresa May sent her minister saying let’s go back to the old ties. I told him that I was still to come up with a Cabinet and then work on our relationship. Another Minister was sent to me and so we agreed to restore relations with Britain but the issue of land reform is not reversible. So Britain will have to open its doors on that condition because they are the ones who closed them in the first place,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said reports by the media that Harare was going to give back land to former white owners were false. He reiterated that there was no way the Government would take back the land from the previously marginalised black people and give it back to whites saying that would be tantamount to selling out the liberation struggle.
“When the media report, they say we are going to give back our land to the white people, no, that is not correct. Gains of the land reform programme are not reversible. Now we are under this new political dispensation and we are saying we are open for business. The last 18 years saw the country remaining isolated and received sanctions from the West. But we thank you Zimbabweans for remaining resolute, for remaining united. We were given a choice of either taking back our land or getting sanctions and we chose to get our land and faced sanctions and you remained resolute,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa said the coming in of Prime Minister May reminded him of 1979 when Britain was being led by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher whom he said played a crucial in the Lancaster House Conference which culminated in the independence of Zimbabwe.
“During the 1979 Lancaster House Conference, there was Margaret Thatcher. Now we have Prime Minister May and relations (between Harare and London) have started (to improve). Then came the likes of (Tony) Blair and our relations were strained. So I think Britain should be ruled by females and our relations will be cordial,” he said.
The President said Government has put in place the Land Commission to do a national audit of how land was parcelled out to the masses. President Mnangagwa said multiple farm owners will lose some farms while those with very big farms will have them downsized.
“We want to allocate land to landless people and some are set to lose farms while others will be downsized. Now we are giving out 99-year leases which are bankable. We are an agro-based country and Government decided to support the agriculture sector through programmes like the Command Agriculture and Presidential Input Support Scheme,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said now that Zimbabweans had land at their disposal, it was time that the Government assisted them in modernising operations, equipping them with modern machinery and value addition of crops such as cotton.
The President said the harmonised elections will be held by July urging the ruling party supporters to go and register to vote. He said new political parties were sprouting all over like mushrooms while others were disintegrating because they had no rich history of the liberation struggle.
“We all know that the only party that has gone through a long journey is Zanu-PF, a journey which can be described, a journey from the liberation struggle to empowerment of people. There is no other party with such a rich history and a lot small opposition parties are now sprouting all over like mushrooms but Zanu-PF will continue ruling. So we urge you to vote wisely,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the country was going to hold peaceful elections.
“We want a peaceful election; we want a peaceful election. We want a united people, non-violence, non-violence. There is no reason for Zanu-PF to be violent. There is no reason for any other political party to be violent. There is no reason for any Zimbabwean to be violent. We are a peaceful people. Go and look at the transition in November last year where hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people came to Harare, marched in Harare peacefully and not even a single window of the shops was broken. It was peaceful.”
He went on, “The entire (African Union) said to me, when we were at the Summit, that they are proud as an African continent, they are proud that Zimbabwe showed that an African country can resolve its problems peacefully.
“Because we are going to have a peaceful election, a free election, a transparent election, why would we not allow our election to be observed? Generally, Sadc observes our elections, the AU observes our elections.”
“This time around, I am opening (it to) the (European Union) and the United Nations to also come and observe our elections. There is nothing to hide.”