President Mnangagwa opens up on dialogue with Nelson Chamisa: I will remain a listening President

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Statement by His Excellency President E.D. Mnangagwa at the New Year’s Reception for Members of the Diplomatic Corps, State House, Harare, 14th February, 2019

The Honourable Vice President Cde K. C. D. Mohadi;

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Hon. Dr Lieut-Gen. (Rtd) S. B. Moyo;

Honourable Ministers here present;

The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr M. J. M. Sibanda;

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador James Manzou;

The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Mawampanga Mwanananga; as represented by Ambassador Neeto;

Your Excellencies Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations;

Senior Government Officials here present;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Comrades and Friends

Good afternoon to you all and I warmly welcome you to this belated New Year’s reception. Ordinarily we should have celebrated the New Year much earlier, but tight schedules and other priorities got in the way. Be that as it may, I am delighted that we have finally found time to meet as family and friends, united by a common objective, that of strengthening and consolidating our relations for mutual benefit.

Let me from the onset highlight that the successful holding of peaceful, democratic, transparent, credible, free and fair Harmonised General Elections in July 2018 under a more open democratic environment; heightened the aspirations and hopes of our people. It is in that spirit that we must continue to chart a better future for Zimbabwe.

Your Excellencies,

As you are aware, my Government adopted a robust engagement and re-engagement policy anchored on transactional economic diplomacy, through which we seek mutually beneficial relations with all nations, despite previous misunderstandings and misgivings.

Business delegations continue to exchange between our countries, resulting in the upscale of investment interests across the country’s major economic sectors, especially in mining, agriculture, energy, tourism and infrastructure.

To capitalise on these new economic opportunities, my Government has continued on a determined drive to transform the operating business environment.

We are restructuring a system and an economy which has been downtrodden under illegal sanctions for too long. We are rebuilding an economy which has failed under sanctions for too long. We are rebuilding a new Zimbabwe.

But in order to succeed we are aware that we must make tough decisions, such as balancing our Budget, bringing in investors and attracting FDI so that we create more jobs for our people. The world needs to once again, believe in the new Zimbabwe.

The 2019 National Budget, “Austerity for Prosperity”, reflects our economic ambition, to become a middle income economy by 2030. To achieve this national milestone, my Government will continue to foster enabling and inclusive economic governance that is anchored on macro-economic stability, financial engagement, social development and the economic empowerment of the entire citizenry.

Only in unity can we make it through this period of austerity. As many of your own governments will know, tough decisions hurt. But just as tough medicine often has short-term side effects; the long- term result is to cure the patient.

The Zimbabwean economy has been a suffering patient for too long. But now is the time to medicate that patient for a permanent cure, even if it hurts!

Your Excellencies,

Our ongoing economic reform measures will continue to be complemented by political reforms. On the political front, we are proud of the strides we have undertaken to fully entrench democratic values and constitutionalism in the country. Amongst the milestones we achieved was the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections on the 30th of July 2018, where our citizenry was able to freely exercise their political choices.

We are particularly delighted that we have scored a first in the use of the “Biometric Voters’ Registration System (BVR) and “Polling Station Based Voters’ Roll (PSBVR)”.

We have shared our successes and experiences in the use of both the “BVR” and “PSBVR” with countries from the region and beyond. We will, going forward, further strengthen our electoral processes, as guided by the lessons learnt in 2018.

Meanwhile, violence has no place in our midst. My administration esteems peace and democracy. We believe that human life is sacrosanct.

Violence is a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe. It must be criticised by all parties. It is time to make things right.

The implementation of the recommendations of the “Motlanthe Commission Report”, into the August 1st Post-Election Violence, is progressing well. Sadly, we yet again witnessed the ugly flare of the scourge of terror and violence throughout the country’s urban centres on the 14th January 2019, in the disguise of mass protests and demonstrations.

What was indeed worrisome is the premeditated nature of this unprecedented violence, including active participation by extraneous foreign hands in collaboration with local surrogates, disguised as political, civic, labour, academic and non-governmental groupings.

The demonstrations were therefore neither civil nor peaceful and were bent on effecting a regime change. There were violent riots: Politically motivated, premeditated, well organised and coordinated.

Let me reiterate that, in the new Zimbabwe, everyone has the right to protest; peacefully. Everyone has the right to voice their opinions, peacefully. And everyone has the right to criticise me and my Government; peacefully.

Following the vandalism, violence and associated looting, the security forces had to step in. What followed is still being investigated. I, however, will be very clear. The army and the police are here to serve the people of Zimbabwe, to protect the people of Zimbabwe, to uphold and enforce the law of Zimbabwe.

Any evidence of rogue police officers or soldiers taking the law into their own hands, will be dealt with, and they will face the full force of the law.

We will not condone any illegal, criminal acts or civil delinquency, no matter who the perpetrators are.

On the 6th February 2019 I invited the leaders of all political parties and former Presidential aspirants in the 2018 presidential elections to an unconditional dialogue aimed at narrowing our political differences and drawing a common socio-economic future and political path for our country.

All the Presidential candidates who have the maturity and sense of leadership joined us. I call on those who refuse to take part in the national dialogue to stop grandstanding and playing games with the lives of people of Zimbabwe. Let us join together and work for a prosperous and united Zimbabwe.

Continuous dialogue within our nation is an exercise I am determined, as President, to see through. What unites the people of Zimbabwe is more than what could ever divide us.

Your Excellencies,

Allow me to state that, as a constitutional Government, we abhor any ill-conceived machinations which negate every grain of International Law and in particular the upholding of the principle of sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states. Zimbabwe abides by this principle and expects all nations to do the same.

Hence, our future interactions should be forced on creating a viable and sustainable relations across all spheres of human endeavour in which we all have a stake for the shared prosperity of our respective peoples.

As nations of goodwill, we truly value your cooperation and support and look forward to furthering our respectful and mutually beneficial relations.

In conclusion, we hope that 2019 will afford us all, some more opportunities of reinvigorating our actions on the ground in the pursuit of common good, economic prosperity and world peace. I urge you to give the new Zimbabwe a chance. Stand with us. Stand with us as we toil to chart a new course for our nation, for the people of Zimbabwe. We are open and transparent; we have nothing to hide.

We have opened up the media space and the democratic political space in general. I will remain a listening President. My arms are outstretched and my door is open. We hear your criticisms and when it is fair, the insights are noted or implemented. But we are restructuring, reforming and rebuilding an entire system, an entire nation. Rome was not built in a day.

As we battle through these growing pains, I urge you all, to be our partners in building a better tomorrow for our people. With your help and support we will build a new Zimbabwe.

May I invite you to now join me in toast:

To the strengthening of bilateral relations between our capitals and people

To your good health

To success and prosperity in 2019

I thank you.


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