Heads of state and former heads of state, former Vice President…ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, countrymen:
I feel deeply humbled by the decision of my party, ZANU-PF, inviting me to serve our great nation, the Republic of Zimbabwe, in the capacity of President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, with effect from today. I admit that I hold no particularly unique qualification which sets me apart from the deep pool of able citizens of our party and our land, who otherwise could have been chosen to occupy this onerous office. But even as I make constant reference to may party, ZANU-PF, I am not oblivious to the many Zimbabweans from across the politico, ethnic and racial divide, we have helped make this day and as if legitimate expectations from the office now I occupy. The decision of my party is merely for the purpose of political identification as I intend, nay, am required to save our country as the President of all citizens, regardless of color, creed, religion, tribe, totem or political affiliation.
Let me at this stage pay special tribute to one of and the only surviving founding father of our Nation, comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He led us in our struggle for national independence. He assumed responsibilities of leadership at a formative and a very challenging time at the best our nation. That is to be lauded and celebrated for all times. Whatever errors of commission or omission that may have occurred during that critical phase in the life of our nation, let us all accept and acknowledge his immense contribution towards the building of our nation. To me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader. We, thus, say thank you to him and I trust that our history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founding fathers and leaders of our nation.
Let me also recognize in a very, very special way the presence in our midst of senior statesmen of our region and continent, led by his Excellency, former President Kenneth David Kaunda of Zambia. He remains the only living member of the foundation of frontline states grouping which is synonymous with the decolonization process in our region. We honor him as indeed we remember all his colleagues now departed. The statesmen who are with us today show a story of success — may I repeat that — show a story of succession which speaks well of our continent. It is a narrative that must get bolder and bolder as generations hand over to succeeding ones or in amity.
In acknowledging the honor you have bestowed upon me, I recognize that the urgent tasks that beckon will not be accomplished through speeches. I must hit the ground running. We all need to summon and unleash in constant towards taking this great nation beyond where our immediate past President left it. For close to two decades this country went through many developments. Whilst we cannot change the past, there is a lot we can do in the present and the future to give our nation a different positive direction. As we do so, we should never remain hostages of our past. I, thus, humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones, readily embracing each other in defining a new destiny of our beloved Zimbabwe.
The task at hand is that of rebuilding our great country. It principally lies with none but ourselves to do so. I employ you all to declare that never again, never again should the circumstances that have put Zimbabwe in an insufferable position be allowed to recur or overshadow this process. We must work together, you, me, all of us who make up this nation. Ours is a great country, endowed with rich resources and abounding in many opportunities for everyone who considers Zimbabwe as a home. Whilst I am aware that emotions and expectations might be high in the midst, I have no doubt that over time we will appreciate the solid foundation laid by my predecessor against all manner of vicissitudes towards building an educated, enlightened, skilled and forgiving society. This is a formidable head-start we draw from our past a plinth upon which to build developments in the present and to erect hopes for the future.
Fellow countrymen, Zimbabweans, as we chart our way forward, we must accept that our challenges as a nation emanate in part from the manner in which we have managed our politics, both nationally and internationally. However, given our historical realities, we wish the rest of the world to understand and appreciate that the policies and programs related to land reform were inevitable. Whilst there is a lot we may need to do by way of outcomes, the principle of repossessing our land cannot be challenged our reversed. The dispossession of our ancestral land was the fundamental reason for waging the liberation struggle. It would be a betrayal of the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives if we were to reverse the gains we have made in reclaiming our land.
Therefore, I exhort beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme to show their deservedness by demonstrating commitment to the utilization of the land now available to them for national food security and for the recovery of our economy. They must take advantage of programs that my government shall continue to avail to ensure that all lands are utilized optimally. Through that end my government will capacitate the land commission so that it is ceased with all outstanding issues related to land redistribution. My government is committed to compensating those farmers from whom land was taken in terms of our laws of lands. As we go into the future, complex issues of land and tenure will have to be addressed both urgently and definitively. We dare not prevaricate on this key issue.
Events leading to this historical day attest to the fact that we are a unique nation, one which is clear about what it wants and what it does not want. Ordinarily, many nations, including those in the developed world, would not have ended with the sort of outcome we celebrate today. Credit goes to every Zimbabwean and to my predecessor who invested a lot of ties and principle resolution of the challenges of the situation that had arisen in our country. From events preceding this occasion, we stand apart as a unique nation driven by mutual tolerance, peace and unity which we have displayed in the past few weeks. This is a wonder to the world, indeed a proud page we have added to the science of conflict resolution and settlement, that peace and harmony should be characteristic of how we relate to one another before, during and after the 2018 Harmonized Democratic Elections next year. I committed to you today that this election will be held as scheduled.
Today, however, the Republic of Zimbabwe renews itself by a government who will work towards ensuring that the pillars of democracy in our land are strengthened and respected. We fully reaffirm our membership of the family of nations and express our commitment to playing our part in all regional, continental and international organizations and arrangements in order to make our modest contribution towards a prosperous and peaceful world order. We subscribe and affirm the principle where all nations of the world are equal and sovereign partners working towards the maintenance of world peace as collectively cherished under the United Nation’s charter.
Here at home we must, however, appreciate the fact that over the years our domestic politics had become poisoned and rancorous and polarizing. My goal is to persuade and preside over a policy and run an administration that recognizes strength in our diversity as a people, hoping that this position and well-meant stance will be reciprocated and radiated to cover all our groups, organizations and communities. We dare not squander the moment. Whatever we do or choose not to do must be intended to benefit all our people. Above all, we must always remember and realize that we hold and run this country in trust. It belongs to future generations, whose possibilities must never be foreclosed or mortgaged as a result of decisions of expediency. The values of unity and peace cherished by all Zimbabweans are the enduring foundations for the desired goal of development. It’s the third pillar of the trinity, unity, peace and development espoused by my party ZANU-PF.
Our economic policy will be predicated on our agriculture, our command agriculture, which is the mainstay and on creative conditions for investment-led economic recovery that puts premium on job, job, job, creation. Key choices will have to be made to attract foreign direct investment to tackle high levels of unemployment while transforming our economy. The many skilled Zimbabweans who have left the country over the years for a variety of reasons must now come into the broad economic calculus designed for our recovery and the takeoff as a nation. Of course, the physical and the social infrastructure must be repaired and expanded to position our country in the readiness for economic growth, employment creation, equity, freedom and democracy, and for the provision of vital social goals, principally health, shelter, clean water, education and other key social services.
Our quest for economic development must be premised on our timeless goal to establish and sustain a just and equitable society, family-based on our historical, cultural and social experience, as well as on our aspirations for better lives for all our people. Our system of economic organization and management will incorporate elements of the market economy in which enterprise is allowed, encouraged and protected. The fabulous natural resources we have, as a country, must now be exploited for the national good. We welcome mutually gainful partnerships with international investors whose presence in our midst must be valued and secured. The bottom line is an economy which is back on its feet. Only that way can we recover this economy, create jobs for our youths and reduce poverty for all our people who must witness real positive changes in our lives.
In the immediate, the liquidity challenges which have bedeviled the economy must be tackled head-on with real solutions being generated as a matter of urgency. People must be able to access their earnings and their savings as and when they needed them. As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviors and acts of indiscipline which have characterized the past. Acts of corruption must stop. Where these occur, swift, swift, swift justice must be served. We have to aspire to be a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards. On these ideals, my administration declares full commitment, warning that grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and a clean business.
To our civil servants, it cannot be business as usual. You now have to roll up your sleeves in readiness to deliver. We have an economy to recover, a people to serve. Each and every one of us must now end their hour, their day, their week and their month at work. Gone — Gone are the days of absenteeism and desultory application, days of unduly detail and forestalling decisions and services in the hope of extorting dirty rewards. Those days are over. A new culture must now inform and animate our daily conduct. Our offices must speedily answer questions and generate solutions awaited by our customers, be they our citizens or well-meaning outsiders who want to join in our economic recovery. Flexibility must be built in our operations so that the machine of government does not become one huge ponderous stumbling block to decisions that must be made and communicated expeditiously. The culture of government must change and change now.
Recognizing the pivotal role that exports play in generating much-needed foreign currency. Government will ensure relaxation of export procedures whilst vigorously ensuring the reduction of all cost associated with the conduct of international trades. The establishments, especially economic zones, will be accelerated in order to attract investment and increase exports. The maintenance of economic stability and confidence amongst the transacting public, the local business community and the foreign investors remains a key to our reform agenda. My government will ensure financial sector viability and stability. We will put in place measures that encourage saving through bank deposits and other appropriate financial instruments which bring fair rewards to depositors. The current banking culture where costs are levied on depositors must come to an end. To reduce the high country risk perception among existing and prospective investors, government will henceforth ensure that its domestic and internal debt obligations are serviced. This will apply to the whole of government including local authorities and state-owned enterprises. In addition, my government will proactively curb externalization of foreign currency and smuggling of goods. The country’s border management and control systems will be strengthened.
I intend to approach security issues from a broad, human, physical and social perspective. All citizens must feel secure and enjoy a sense of belonging in their land. All activities that the national security institutions aim to achieve must be focused on overall human security to include among others security from disease, hunger and employment illiteracy and extreme poverty. We must pay equal attention to all these areas, enhancing the capabilities of our security services so that they are able to deal decisively with all freights.
Today, the Republic of Zimbabwe enters the second phase of its birth. We emerge to fully affirm our belonging to the family of nations. We harbor no ill or belligerent intentions against any other nation. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is our home. We founded it from its beginning and we recommit ourselves to further its vision and ideals. As we journey outward from our SADC house, we fully realize that we belong in the big house and family, the African Union. Once, we were not free and the best of the OAU which championed total liberation of the entire African continent from colonialism, we were creators of sterling efforts of the OAU through its liberation committee. The African Union, itself is the sequel to the OAU, is out natural home and the collective resource is Africans. Zimbabwe pledges its untrammeled membership and declares now that it will play its role fully to make a success of the AU.
An important subset of the AU is the COMESA Economic Group of Nations. There, we are committed to contributing meaningfully to the realization of the AU Agenda 2063.
Zimbabwe’s genesis independence has provided us with many lessons, some pleasant, others not so pleasant. In particular, some bigger nations have attempted to make us bend to their dictates. We have, however, successfully maintained good relations with the preponderant majority of the Family of Nations. I stand here today to say that our country is ready and willing for a steady reengagement with all the nations of the world.
As we build a new democratic Zimbabwe, we ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider the economic and the political sanctions against us. Whatever misunderstandings that may have subsisted in the past let this make way for a new beginning. In this global world, no nation is, can or need be an island. Isolation has never been splendid or viable. Solidarity and the partnerships are and will always be the way. We are ready to embrace each and all on the principles of mutual respect and common humanity. We will take definite steps to reengage those nations who have had issues with us in the past. Equally, we would take measures to ensure that we acknowledge and show commitment towards settling our debts. But, of course, our resources remain sparse especially at this stage when we face myriad of pressures. But we count on the good will of those we owe to give us a chance. We remain committed to honoring the debts and to entering into new relationships. I wish to be clear: All foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe.
We will willfully abide by the terms of bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements, which we have concluded with a number of nations. I ask you to join us in exploiting our potential to make a difference in the lives of our people. The United Nations is the home of all the nations of this planet. We will contribute to the overall thinking and management of world affairs. Our plain talk arises from our deep convictions and desire to help build world peace. With join the rest of the continent in calling for reforms in the United Nations system, so the world body becomes truly representative and thus commands universal respect. Zimbabwe will continue to contribute to international peace and security, urging the granting of full statehood and freedoms to the Palestinian and Sarawi peoples. Let us together honestly address the sources of instability and the terrorism in many parts of the world, all within the framework of the United Nations.
Honorable guests and people of Zimbabwe, I wish to thank all of you here and elsewhere who wish us a peaceful transition. For the time that I shall be President of Zimbabwe, I solemnly promise that I shall, to the best of my ability, serve everyone — everyone who calls and considers Zimbabwe their home. I encourage all of us to remain peaceful even as preparations for political contestations for next year’s harmonized free and fair elections gather momentum. The voice of the people is the voice of God.
Brothers and sisters, the people of Zimbabwe, the task before us is much bigger than competing for political office. Let us all play our part to build this great country, together as Zimbabweans. May God bless Zimbabwe.
I thank you.