PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged sweeping reforms to extricate the nation from the jaws of its past misery and ensure economic recovery and political stability ahead of crucial elections next year.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/OBEY MANAYITI
In his inaugural speech, soon after being sworn in as President by Chief Justice Luke Malaba in front of a jubilant crowd from all over the country at the National Sport Stadium in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa said he would not allow the country to be held back by its dark past.
He outlined a litany of strategies to lure foreign direct investment to ensure financial stability, deal with the ease of doing business locally and focus more on the economy in particular fixing the current liquidity crisis.
Mnangagwa said he would adopt a tough stance against corruption and inefficient and incompetent government officials who stalled progress and “extort dirty money” from the public and investors.
“For close to two decades now, this country went through many developments. While we cannot change the past there is a lot we can do in the present and future to give our nation a different, positive direction. As we do so, we should never remain hostages of our past. I thus appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones,” he said.
Mnangagwa said his reign would not be of flowery speeches, but action to deliver notable and meaningful change in the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.
“I recognise that the urgent tasks that beckon will not be accomplished through speeches, necessary as they maybe. I have to hit the ground running to make sure that I lead in stupendous efforts we all need to summon and unleash in concert, towards taking this great nation beyond where our immediate past President left it,” he said.
He pledged to ensure that circumstances that led to the military stepping in to decide political affairs would not be repeated.
“Today, the Republic of Zimbabwe renews itself. My government will work towards ensuring the pillars of the State assuring democracy in our land are strengthened and respected,” Mnangagwa said.
In a nation ravaged by the vicissitudes of corruption, the new Head of State warned he would take a “no nonsense approach” to the social ill.
“As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past. Acts of corruption must stop forthwith, where these occur, swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators,” Mnangagwa said.
The President also signalled his intention to engage the international community, dumping the mantra of going it alone which was for years embraced by former President Robert Mugabe.
“Whatever misunderstandings may have subsisted in the past, let these make way to a new beginning which sees us relating to one another in multi-layered, mutually beneficial ways as equal and reciprocally dependent partners. In this global world, no nation is, can, or need be an island, one unto itself. Isolation has never been splendid or viable, solidarity and partnerships are and will always be the way,” he said.
Mnangagwa said there was no going back on elections scheduled for next year, dealing a heavy blow to people who were anticipating a transitional government which was supposed to forestall elections.
Several opposition leaders including MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Nelson Chamisa together with NPP leader Joice Mujuru were also in attendance, amid speculation that the newly-inaugurated President might go for a coalition government. Although his speech recognised co-operation by other political players in removing Mugabe and the need to find each other and working together, Mnangagwa said elections were inevitable.
He said Zimbabwe’s transfer of power has been exemplary to many.
On political co-operation he said: “Here at home, we must, however, appreciate the fact that over the years our domestic politics had become poisoned, rancorous and polarising.
“My goal is to preside over a polity and run an administration that recognises 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, organisations and communities.
“We dare not squander the moment. At the end of the day, whatever we do or choose not to do must be intended to benefit all our people.”
Mnangagwa paid tribute to his predecessor, Mugabe who resigned on Tuesday under pressure from the masses, military and legislators.
“Whatever errors of commission or omission that might 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 trust that our history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founders and leaders of our nation,” he said.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu accompanied by his two predecessors Kenneth Kaunda and Rupiah Banda, Botswana’s Ian Khama, Mozambique’s Felipe Nyusi, Namibia’s former Presidents Hifikepunye Pohamba and Sam Nujoma were in attendance.
Other countries sent representatives, while South Africa was represented by Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete.
Mnangagwa spoke on the need to engage with the international community and opening Zimbabwe for international investment. He, however, made a clarion call on Zimbabwe’s erstwhile friends to remove sanctions saying his administration would seek to start on a fresh page.
On land, Mnangagwa said the programme was irreversible but a relook would done on underutilised farms.
“I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform programme to show their deservedness by demonstrating commitment to the utilisation of the land now available to them for National Food Security and for the recovery of the economy,” he said.
“To that extent my government will capacitate the Land Commission so that the commission is seized with all outstanding issues related to land redistribution.”
Mnangagwa also indicated that government was committed to compensating those farmers whom land was taken during the fast-track land reform exercise.
“…Complex issues of land tenure will have to be addressed both urgently and definitively, in order to ensure finality and closure to the ownership and management of this key resource which is central to national stability and to sustained economic recovery.”