State of the Nation Address by Dr Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru, President, Zimbabwe People First
Fellow citizens I salute you with honour, humility and respect. We come to the end of yet another bleak year. We meet shortly after Christmas, a Christmas hardly worth of any festive celebration at all.
Civil servants were not paid. The few who were fortunate to have been paid spent all their time in bank queues to access bond notes on empty stomachs. Those in the rural areas could not come to town and those in town could not go to the rural areas.
In short, there was nothing merry about this Christmas all because of Zanu-PF’s inexcusable failure. Their policies chase away investors and promote rampant corruption. Fellow citizens, we need to put an end to this. How can someone afford to be on holiday in the Far East in times like this?
The country’s economy, infrastructure and the livelihoods of the generality of our people bear visible marks of the decay we are talking about, the decay that you peacefully demonstrated against.
Mugabe and Zanu-PF have neither the competence nor commitment to address the self-inflicted problems that we face.
The country is crying out for change. Zimbabwe People First is that change, a capable, dedicated and vibrant leadership.
After touring the country’s ten (10) provinces we are more than convinced that the people of this great nation want change and they are ready for it. The people in the diaspora want the change in order to come home to family, friends and also to help their country.
Lack of planning ministries
The country’s health system is paralysed. There is shortage of basic drugs like painkillers yet the President and his family spend millions of dollars to access foreign health facilities in Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia and China.
Child mortality rate is ever increasing and the number of mothers who die while giving birth has increased due to the shortage of properly trained midwives. More worrying and saddening was the suspension of theatre and surgical operations at general hospitals due to shortage of drugs and the relevant manpower. Above all, the high costs, often demanded in unavailable cash, associated with accessing our health facilities on the rare occasions such facilities are available, are alarming and shocking to say the least.
Our education system, which we used to pride ourselves in, is now shambolic. It is characterised by poor planning on the part of Mugabe’s cabinet. The current minister’s perchance for expending energy and focus on non-productive policy directives like the national pledge and electronic applications for form one pupils makes a bad situation worse. The situation is made catastrophic by the looting of ZIMDEF FUNDS by ministers who enjoy immunity from public prosecution. That alone demonstrates corruption of the highest order.
On the other hand, the mass proliferation of unregistered private schools is a clear sign that government has failed to cater for the surging demand for school places. The situation was exacerbated by the unplanned introduction of the zero grade without the requisite infrastructure to accommodate the extra classes that the zero grade system requires.
This lack of planning in ministries has affected our people. The people of Chingwizi, my fellow citizens, bear testimony to the vagaries of unplanned and poorly executed government policies.
Today, the population in the Chingwizi camp that was meant to be transit, has ballooned and there seems to be no permanent solution in sight for people who were just dumped without the requisite health infrastructure, educational facilities and a psycho-social support system needed for people that had been uprooted from their homes.
But with the Chingwizi mess unaddressed, Mugabe’s government is forcibly moving yet another group of people in Chipinge South Constituency. About 2500 households have had their houses demolished by government and moved to a business centre about two kilometres from their homes.
This was done, ostensibly, to protect the villagers from the menacing Renamo bandits. But without requisite health facilities, proper accommodation, food and psycho-social support, it’s a question of jumping from the frying pan into the fire for these villagers.
Fellow citizens, the demolition of people’s homes in urban areas after a directive by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban development has left thousands traumatised and impoverished.
People were so traumatised after these the barbaric acts reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina. We question government’s sincerity in the reasons they give for these demolitions after watching people build homes on non-designated areas without taking action. The timing for these demolitions, during the rainy season, could not be more callous.
What is disturbing for those whose houses were demolished is the partisan parcelling out of urban land to Zanu-PF supporters only by a government Minister who should represent interests of all Zimbabweans across the political divide. We wonder if an act of this nature does not amount to vote buying and election rigging.
Fellow citizens, nothing has been more depressing and economically disturbing this year than the amount of productive time lost in bank queues and threat to our investments posed by the introduction of a fake currency by Mugabe’s administration.
The shortage of cash in the banks cannot be explained satisfactorily without disclosing that Mugabe’s government robbed bank nostro accounts by using depositor’s funds availed to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) by operation of the Exchange Control Operational Guideline and Directive 3 of 2015.
The directive, which allows banks to keep only 5% of their total deposits in foreign accounts, states that “authorised dealers shall be required to maintain a Nostro account balance threshold of 5 % of total FCA balances (Total Bank Deposits) on a daily basis” and anything in excess should be channelled to the RBZ.
Mugabe’s government, which has a negative balance of $700 million in its account with the RBZ used these depositors funds through issuance of Treasury Bills to bank roll government’s payments for power, foreign travel, new motor vehicles, tractors, among other imports.
The result has been very devastating to the banking public since people can no longer access their deposits on demand.
The introduction of the so-called bond notes, a fake US$ equivalent, is not divorced from the bank robbery committed by Mugabe’s government as it now seeks to replace the looted depositors’ funds with the surrogate currency.
Fellow citizens, we continue to resist this institutionalised bank robbery by a government that is supposed to protect us, our properties and investments. That is the reason why we made a constitutional court application to seek redress for the diabolic looting of people’s money planned and executed by this evil government. We believe the battle is not lost and 2017 will see intensified strides towards redressing this anomaly, it is a battle that we will take to its logical conclusion.
Our people today face serious food insecurity despite the fact that our country was once a breadbasket for Southern Africa. We now import maize from our neighbours Zambia, Malawi and South Africa, not because they have better climate, but because their governments are committed to feeding their people.
About 70% of the maize that we used to harvest when we were still a breadbasket was grown by peasant and smallholder farmers. It, therefore, does not need rocket science to realise the need to capitalise the same and provide them with a market so that they grow food for the nation.
After the land reform, one would argue that with better soils on the A1 farms, the peasant and small holder farmers could grow more than 90 % of the maize needed for our domestic consumption. But Mugabe’s government has chosen to ignore these farmers, instead, creating a looting machine called command agriculture—a $500 million facility being abused by top Zanu-PF and military personnel who are now selling agricultural inputs ranging from, seed, diesel, fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides on the black market.
After the failure of “Operation Maguta”, carried out by the army some time past, it does not make sense to entrust the same personnel with command agriculture and expect different results.
But as we face serious food shortages, Mugabe’s government has banned imports through statutory instrument 64 which we are challenging in the High Court. We promise you that this is another legal battle that we are pursuing in 2017.
Agriculture and mining are raw material feeders into manufacturing sector. Currently agriculture is failing in this regard. In the mining sector, for years we have been hearing of platinum value addition plants and resuscitation of Ziscosteel. Ridiculously, an official launch of a New Ziscosteel was held a few years ago to no avail. Government investment in resuscitating Ziscosteel is imperative since it creates more than 6000 jobs at the steel plant and several thousands in downstream industry.
The existing industry must retool and requires new investors but the current indigenisation law is unhelpful in this regard. Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) do not access long term funding required for growth on account of their failure to attract foreign investment as a result of the indigenisation law.
My Fellow Citizens and countrymen, Zanu-PF government has failed. It has shown that it lacks the commitment to implement programmes that better the generality of our people.
We agree with the sentiments we gathered from the interactive discussions we had with the people during our nation-wide tour. Your message has been loud and clear that it’s time for Mugabe to leave office.
We appreciate your clamour for a competent leadership capable of attracting investor confidence.
We also acknowledge the deep-seated desire for the restoration of the social contract between the governing and the governed; the need for the current government to seek a fresh mandate from the governed through fresh, free and fair elections.
We also take heed of your strong conviction for the need that opposition parties should form a grant coalition to effect change in the regime and bring about a new way that puts people first.
'We need a renewal of our minds'
As ZimPF, we believe a grand coalition should not only quantify votes, but should bring our people together. It should be a process capable of fostering convergence and national healing. A process of such magnitude should be people-driven and guided by the need to build like-minded synergies among various stakeholders.
We are of the idea that the process of building the coalition should be an all-inclusive process that is not only limited to political actors but one which would include private citizens, the churches, civic bodies, student movements and any other interested stakeholders genuinely committed to the democratisation of our politics and the holding of free and fair elections. We currently working with other democratic forces in the Bikita West by-election where we fielded a candidate, Kudakwashe Gopo. We urge all democratic forces to rally behind him and vote overwhelming for change on 21 January 2017.
Fellow citizens, I believe our country is endowed with a lot of valuable resources, both human and material and these; if properly put to good use, can develop and make our land a first world country.
We have vast reserves of coal-bed methane gas, enough to power the whole of Africa for more than 50 years without using any other source of energy for heating and cooking yet we import LP gas for domestic and industrial use.
We have all the minerals yet we rank among the poorest per capita. We have an educated human resource that has proven its mettle in the diaspora, developing foreign nations, yet we have regressed in terms of our own development as a nation.
Fellow citizens, we need a renewal of our minds, a change, and a vast paradigm shift in the way we do things. In order for this change to be realised, we need a fresh leadership with the will to work for the betterment of our people. We need a leadership with the craft competency to effect a turnaround that we desire, a leadership with a clear vision of making our country a first world.
Let’s work together in 2017!
Together, we are the future, we have the solutions!
God bless you, I pray that 2017 brings with it good tidings.
I thank you
Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru, (President Zimbabwe People First)