Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivers inauguration speech at National Sports Stadium on August 22, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
President Mugabe’s inauguration speech
August 23, 2013 Opinion & Analysis
President Mugabe delivers his inauguration speech at the National Sports Stadium yesterday
Vice president Cde Joice Mujuru, Heads of State and Government, Former Heads of State and Government, Outgoing members of cabinet,
Esteemed delegates representing various countries and organisations, Representatives of sister liberation movements and parties, Newly elected Members of Parliament, The Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary, Senior Civil Servants, Representatives of War Veterans, Detainees, Restrictees and War collaborators, Representatives of the Business Community, Representatives of our Farming Community, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Representatives of the Civil Society, Student activists, Invited guests, Comrades and friends.
On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, I wish to extend to you all a very warm welcome to this joyous occasion marking the end of our electoral processes, and the beginning of steps towards shaping a new administration which shall mind the affairs of our Nation for the next five years. In welcoming you, I am aware of the inconveniences you suffered from what really was a short notice to this event.
Our invitations reached you very late, forcing you to set aside equally pressing commitments you may have scheduled for the same time.
We apologise most profusely for this inconvenience created by certain Constitutional requirements that perforce precede the inauguration of the President-elect. We had to allow for petitions as required by our Supreme Law.
Yet it is this positive response to this short notice on your part which attests to the deep affinities between you and ourselves.
We are truly humbled and today our hearts are aglow with happiness which we readily share with you on this joyous occasion.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends,
The just-ended harmonised polls whose high point we now gathered to celebrate, do mark and usher in a new Constitutional dispensation for our country, Zimbabwe. This poll is the first we have held under a new home-grown Constitution which has replaced that which we negotiated at Lancaster House with our erstwhile colonial masters, the British, in 1979.
While the Lancaster House Constitution served us well as we moved from war to peace, from a settler colonial administration to black African self-rule, the passage of time and the sheer weight of emerging issues progressively made the document rather too old.
We thus had to work on a new Constitution.
Consequently, we sat together as a united people and produced a draft document that was subsequently endorsed by the majority of our people through a well-subscribed Referendum we held early this year.
True, today’s event marks the inauguration of the President, but it is also a celebration of our new Charter which shall guide our society for the foreseeable future.
A key feature of this Constitution is its blending of first-past-the post electoral approach and proportional representation.
Elections for Presidency, for the Lower House or House of Assembly, and for Local Government are managed under first-past-the post principle, while membership of the Upper House or the Senate is drawn up on the basis of proportional representation based on votes garnered by each vying party, while recognising the Constitutional need for gender parity.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, comrades and Friends,
I have no doubt that the days of our elections were quite engrossing, if not, nail-biting to some of you.
The undue politicisation and publicity of our polling processes, the ominous auguries that stalked those harmonised polls, could have made you fear for us, indeed may have triggered deep anxieties regarding our prospects here. Routinely we were imaged as a society at war, a society riven by conflict.
After all, the preceding elections of 2008 had been disputed on allegations of violence, itself a fertile backdrop to these rumours of war. Since that disputed poll, Zimbabwe had hung on an uneasy peace, indeed had tenuously held together on a fraught coalition, an inclusive Government of three uneasy partners.
Genuine friends feared that the five uneasy years during which the coalition had survived — barely — would soon see Zimbabwe to this violent patch which had slurred its electoral honour.
Our enemies and detractors sought to goad us toward such a self-destructive path.
Happily, this negative augury, this hell-fire vision of Zimbabwe and its electoral prospects now stands confounded by the durable peace that reigns over this land.
We have had peaceful elections. We have had free elections. We have had fair elections, with our Constitution allowing for any challenges from whomsoever.
Well done Zimbabwe! We pledge to ensure that the peace we have built endures. And that the attainment of that peace we pay unstinting tribute to all our people who accepted the exhortations to peace from us all, who practiced and radiated it reciprocally in their immediate neighbourhoods. The result was local peace which built towards and fed into perfect national peace.
I want to pay tribute to my partners in the Global Political Agreement for joining hands in these peace-building efforts. Equally, I salute church and community leaders who prayed for it, demonstrated it through personal example.
I have no doubt that I continue to count on them all for durable peace that subsists for all times.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends,
Except for a few Western dishonest countries, our elections have been hailed as peaceful, free, fair and credible. Sadc, Comesa, the African Union, the ACP, the United Nations as well as many nations of good will have praised our elections here.
We welcome this positive spirit, this encouragement which should see us do even better, move forward faster as a nation.
But like in all elections, there will always be bad losers, real spoilers. It is a part-price we pay for electoral democracy, indeed an inevitable phase in our growth as a people wedded to democratic practices. Where such a grousing stance remains non-antagonistic, where it expresses itself within the four corners of the law, it must be tolerated as part of the democratic tussle, part of the post-electoral adjustment.
As of those odd Western countries who happen to hold a different, negative view of our electoral process and outcome, well, there is not much we can do about them. We dismiss them as the vile ones whose moral turpitude we must mourn.
They are entitled to their views, for as long as they recognise the majority of our people endorsed the electoral outcome, indeed for as long as they recognise that no Zimbabwean law was offended against. And for us that is all that matters. After all, Zimbabwean elections are meant for Zimbabwe’s voting citizens.
After all, Zimbabwean democracy is meant for the people of Zimbabwe who must, within set periods, go to the polls to choose and install a government of their choice. It is their sole prerogative and no outsider, however superior or powerful they imagine themselves to be, can override that right, let alone take it away from them.
It is our inherent right. We fought for it when it was lost .We won it through our own blood.
We keep it for us and posterity; we reserve forever as an expression of our sovereignty as a free people.
Today we tell those dissenting nations that the days of colonialism and neo-colonialism are gone, and gone forever. The era of white colonial “whispers behind the African throne” passed on and got buried together with Lord Laggard the author of this anti-African, neo-colonial notion.
Having struggled for our independence our fate has irrevocably orbited out of colonial relations, indeed can no longer subsist in curtsying and bowing to any foreign government, however powerful it feigns itself to be and whatever filthy lucre it flaunts.
We belong to Africa. We follow African values here. We follow our conscience. We abide by the judgment of Africa as indeed, we did in 2008 when Africa advised us to set aside results of the disputed elections.
Today it is Britain, and her dominions of Australia and Canada who dare tell us our elections were not fair and credible. Today it is America and her illegal sanctions which dare raise a censorious voice over our affairs. Yes, today it is these Anglo-Saxons who dare contradict Africa’s verdict over an election in Zimbabwe, an African country.
Who are they, we ask? Who gave the gift of seeing better than all of us?
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends,
With the elections now behind us, we can now focus on rebuilding our nation which has been ravaged by illegal sanctions imposed on us by the West. If yesterday the pretext for imposing those sanctions was to do with a deficit of democracy here, today we ask those culprit nations what their excuse is now?
Whose interest are those sanctions serving? Zimbabwe is an open, friendly country. We seek friendship across geographies, across cultures, and quite often against past wrongs. We seek partnerships with all nations of goodwill, but partnerships based on sovereign, equality and mutual respect.
Those are the sacred principles that upon which the global architecture, as defined by the United Nations, is founded.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends,
Elections here were fought over the question of sovereignty gained in 1980 after a gruelling armed liberation struggle. Today the flag of that sovereignty flutters gaily in the winds of our spring. We sing our national anthem, itself a compendium of all that we aspire for, with full-throated ease.
We have a government through which we define policies, itself the prime agent for implementing those same policies. That government reigns over our territory, its authority firmly felt to the remotest corner of our territory. We have sought the political kingdom, we have found it.
But much remains to be done before we assume full sovereignty, well beyond the owning of politics, indeed beyond symbols and rituals of independence. Our resources have not yet fully come. Yes, we regained control over our land and our people are happy.
Today they revel in the ownership of that land which has now come. They are beginning to use it profitably, using it for durable wherewithal. They have become key players in agriculture, proving that they are as good farmers as any in the world, once they have access to key inputs. It has been a key milestone.
But our dominion goes beyond land. It extends to all those resources found in and on our territory, including those lying beneath our land, principally minerals.
And nature has been generous, prodigal in fact, granting us oversized portions of almost all minerals that matter on earth. It has been a generous serve. The time has come for us to extend our dominion to all those resources which the Almighty has been so generous enough to give. That is the next revolution whose first step is this administration, this new Government.
I stand before you as now a sworn President of Zimbabwe. My mandate comes from the just ended election which my party won resoundingly. But there are key truths that come with that victory, which come with that honour.
The peasant who cast his vote on July 31, created my victory and thus made a portion of my Presidency, I am at his service, and his emissary and servant. He or she did not cast that precious vote in vain, did not repose it in us without expectations of a good, deserved return.
Similarly, the unemployed youth who cast his vote did so amidst great expectations. He, too, moulded my Presidency. He, too, claims it. It must work for him, deliver to him. The woman — that larger half of mankind voted for me V a man! She has deep hopes that must be fulfilled!
The businessperson, he or she too, voted for me, contributing a limb to my Presidency. He or she has definite expectations founded on his or her role in society as a creator of wealth.
The farmer — small, medium, big — voted for my party, thereby assigning my Presidency. His vote was his input; he must now turn the soil, broadcast seed in the hope of plenty. I am the instrument of his dream. The self-employed, that small man and woman always struggling on the margins of the formal economy, he or she, too, has expectations, great expectations at that.
So, too, are those who did not vote me, those who voted for other parties. They have hopes and expectations which must reside and repose in my Presidency.
As we move into the future, our work as a nation is cut out for us. Although God may favour us, not all men do. We have been under sanctions for a decade and three years. Most likely we shall remain under these sanctions for much longer. But we have held our own. Our will has been our principal resource.
We have to raise ourselves by our bootstraps. Let me share with you my vision for the future, lay out for you the work that must be done.
Foremost, we must always believe in ourselves by turning to our own resources. Luckily they exist in fair abundance. The mining sector will be the centrepiece of our economic recovery and growth.
It should generate growth spurts across sectors, reignite that economic miracle which must now happen.
The sector has shown enormous potential, but we are far from seeing its optimum. We have barely scratched our worth, even in the sense of merely bringing above ground what we already know to be embedded in our rich soils. We need to intensify the exploitation of existing deposits.
More mineral deposits remain unknown, unexplored. We need to explore new deposits, developing new greenfield projects in the mining sector.
Above all, we need to move purposefully towards beneficiation of our raw minerals. The scope is great and I call upon you all to summon your full will, to give your utmost. That is what will empower us, develop us, indeed create employment for our people.
As we go about reorganising this critical sector, our policy reflexes must be oriented towards the goals of indigenisation and economic empowerment of our people. This was the centrepiece of our manifesto. This is what the people voted for. It must become the centerpiece of our development endeavours.
We dare not let our people down. We are aware that people of ill-will have cast aspersions on our hallowed policy of indigenisation and economic empowerment. Well, it is a set policy, our chosen path to full sovereignty.
The premise of what policy is an easy one. Our minerals are a depletable resource. We cannot grow them again once they have been exploited. Consequently, we cannot be bystanders in their exploitation. We need a share, a controlling share in all ventures that exploit our non-renewable natural resources.
Where we can, we can go it alone. Where we cannot do so, we seek partners on a 51/49 percent shareholding principle.
Genuine partners should find this acceptable.
We reject totally as skewed the economic principle which puts capital, technology or expertise before natural resources. It is a principle of imperialism, the source of unequal agreements which have been the bane of our ever exploited Africa. That is our reckoning here and we stand by it.
Unequal agreements are unacceptable; they reek of colonial and neo-colonial relations. But where an investor brings in his or her capital, technology, expertise and raw materials, we will not insist on the principle!
The five years of the inclusive Government have seen a slowdown in agriculture. Our farmers — big and small — have gone without the support of Government. They have not been assisted in accessing inputs and capital from banks. Except for tobacco which has been funded by the private sector, food agriculture which tended to lean on Government support declined.
Yet agriculture remains the mainstay of our economy, the source of raw materials for our manufacturing sector. We must become a food secure nation, and that means sensible agriculture policies that recognise support to the farmer by way of inputs. No nation on earth does without such support.
The new Cabinet will be expected to move with full speed in mobilising adequate inputs. Equally, issues around electricity and irrigation must be tackled definitively so that this season marks a return to food sufficiency, and anticipates an active winter season which should see us growing part of our wheat requirements again.
After all, agriculture provides livelihoods and direct employment to thousands of our people.
There are pressing social service challenges which must be tackled immediately. Taps are dry in most of our cities and towns, worse so in Bulawayo. Water must be restored; taps must run again. The search for durable solutions to water supply for our towns and cities must begin almost immediately with the announcement of a new Cabinet.
We cannot have erratic water supply in urban conurbations without risking outbreaks of serious diseases. And of course our hospitals, clinics and dispensaries must be well equipped for health delivery.
Often our clinics have run out of essential drugs, vital pieces of equipment and accessories. Rural areas have been hit hardest. That area must be stabilised as a matter of urgency.
Another key area of urgent attention has to do with infrastructure. Happily we had already begun working on our road networks, with many rehabilitation projects in the offing. These must be expedited so mobility of people, goods and services is expedited. The same also passes for other modes of transport.
The road maintenance equipment which the responsible Ministry has been acquiring for rural development agencies should see us maintaining feeder roads in anticipation of the agricultural sector and other economic activities. It is gratifying to not that the community share ownership programmes have also played their part in hastening community development.
A key facet of infrastructural development shall relate to water provision and sanitation, especially in rural areas.
Equally, the supply of electricity must be stabilised both for the sake of our domestic users and for the sake of agriculture, industry and commerce.
We have key power projects which are about to take off, and which, if completed, should augment internal power generation. All these are key enablers which must now kick in. There are many financing models which the new Government will explore, including public-private-partnership on the strength of which some projects have moved.
When all is said and done, our financial system or policy will need to be examined including the banking institutions and their supporting role to industry. Partly as a result of sanctions and partly because of regional manufacturing and trade dynamics, Zimbabwe has declined as a regional manufacturing centre.
We are fast turning into one huge warehouse, a dumping ground for all manner of imports. Our cities and towns are dying. Bulawayo, for a long time the industrial capital of Zimbabwe, has now become a sorry industrial scrap-yard. And this has been an indicative trend for all manufacturing centres in the country.
We have become a net importer of finished goods, while also being a net exporter of raw materials.
Even our cotton industry, for a very long time an area of comparative advantage, has collapsed, with it many small cotton growers. This has become a structural handicap which we must tackle head on, and urgently too. Plans to resuscitate our ailing industries never took off largely because of internal contradictions during the era of the inclusive Government.
That era is gone and we must now move purposefully.
Internationally and diplomatically we remain friendly and well disposed towards all nations.
We seek friendships. We seek partnerships. We seek to diversify our relations to encompass new, emerging regions of the world. Principally; we continue to look East, hoping all those countries which had held back on fears of our unsettled situation here can now move forward to partner with us on clear parameters laid out in our policies.
We seek peace; we work for peace and exhort the rest of the world to do likewise.
We do not brook any form of interference in the internal affairs of other nations. A strong sense of right must always temper might. As our own case demonstrated, often it is local solutions which work best in curing problems that may rise within and between nations.
The current Western policy of sponsoring conflict in the Middle East must be condemned.
As the desperate situation in Syria has shown, such a policy brings enormous grief to affected nations. We watch helplessly as small nations get wrecked by high-handed nations. We hold deep fears for Egypt, that great African country. We hope that peace can return to it soon, and hold for all time.
In concluding, I want to thank countries of Africa, both singly and organised as sub-regions.
In particular I thank Sadc and AU for standing with us during our difficulties. I thank the sister Republic of South Africa, I thank its leadership which, in succession, played the difficult role of facilitating political dialogue and settlement in our country.
It was a trying task but the two men burdened with that role, firstly, former president Thabo Mbeki who is here with us, and later President Jacob Zuma bore it all with amazing patience and perseverance. I am sure today is a happy day for both men. They can walk tall in full knowledge that they have signed off a rare but glorious chapter on African solutions to African problems! Siyalibonga sonke!
Lastly, I owe nothing but praise and respect to my GPA-era partners who are also my fellow countrymen.
I am referring to former Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and, much later, Professor Welshman Ncube.
We have worked together. Initially compelled by GPA protocols, we eventually found each other and proceeded to produce the current Constitution.
This is our land, our country together and for as long as our nations subsist, so will elections and the opportunities they offer.
Our common destiny bids us to work together, never at cross purposes.
More important, that destiny bids us to work for the well-being and in defence of our people who must always come first. I thank you all! I thank you Zimbabweans of all tribal cultures, of all religious and political affiliations, thank you traditional Chiefs, thank you all civil servants, all students, all social groups, all youths, mothers and fathers, well done.
Ndinotenda! Ngiyabonga! Zikomo kwambiri, Asante sana!
I thank you.