By Emmerson Mnangagwa
Address by His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa, at the meeting with students from institutions of higher learning at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC), 5th July 2018
Directors of Ceremonies
The Honourable Vice President, General (Rtd), Dr C. D. N. Chiwenga.
Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs, Hon M. Chikukwa;
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Hon. Professor A. Murwira;
Other Cabinet Ministers here present;
Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Dr J. P. Mangudya;
Senior Government Officials;
National President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Students’ Unions (ZICOSU), Mr T. S. Gambiza
ZICOSU National Executive Council;
All other Student Representative Councils here present;
Members from the Academia;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is with great honour that I address the august gathering of students and youth from our country’s institutions of higher learning organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Unions (ZICOSU) which provides an interactive platform between Government and students to discuss pertinent issues concerning our learners.
As a listening President, I have come to appreciate your aspirations and concerns; be it through meetings such as this one, or reading your messages on my Facebook page, Twitter handle and Instagram account as well as WhatsApp groups.
Today as we dialogue, let us be cognisant that you the student and young people from across the country, have a role to contribute towards defining the future in the Zimbabwe we all want. I urge you all, therefore, to carve your place into history. Let me from the onset invite you to a realisation that you are a critical mass in the defence, protection and advancement of our national interests, developmental trajectory and economic discourse. For indeed before me is Zimbabwe’s future.
The democratisation of the higher education sphere was upon the realisation of the need to strategically and purposefully develop our human capital base across the social strata, as well as equipping our youth with requisite skills and competencies to benefit the economy.
On your part, you must be firm in the national ideals and convictions, willing to sacrifice and serve your country and its people, diligent in hard work, ready to take on responsibility honestly and uprightly. I further challenge you to be realistic, pragmatic and to also have an innovation and entrepreneurial mind- set. As Amilcar Cabral said: “You must never confuse what you have in your mind with reality”.
My Government continues to put in place policies that guarantee the appropriate socio-economic environment which ensures the young people of our country have a brighter tomorrow. Guided by the mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”, my Government undertook the engagement and re- engagement policy to reintegrate our country into the community of nations.
“Kugara nhaka huona dzavamwe.” This initiative undoubtedly provides you as students with the opportunities for broader interaction, student exchanges and exposure from beyond our borders. As we continue to receive scholarships from friendly countries, Government will from now, ensure that these are awarded to prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students to address the critical skills gap in relation to our current and future needs.
Meanwhile, I encourage you through your institutions to deliberately seek to be exposed to the various development initiatives across all sectors. To this end, tours to project sites under Command Agriculture; the ongoing establishment and revival of industry and mining concerns among others, offer immense lessons of the emerging economy. These should, however, not be restricted to those in the specific fields of study, but must cut across disciplines.
A month ago, I officially opened the first innovation incubation hub at Midlands State University, where I challenged institutions of higher learning to reflect the new Government thrust by promoting research and innovation. My Government has put in place measures for the commercialisation of ideas, inventions and other start-up initiatives.
These measures include but are not limited to the 1 percent of GPD to fund Research & Development. The onus is now upon you students to widen your horizons, have inquisitive minds, be analytical and desire to continuously learn, unlearn and re-learn through a rigorous and reading and writing culture keeping abreast with the fast evolving world.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;
In my interaction with captains of industry and commerce as well as during my meeting with engineers yesterday in Victoria Falls. I challenged them to partner Government in the academic transformative agenda as they are immediate beneficiaries of a skilled, relevant and responsive workforce.
My Government is fully aware of the need to develop and improve learning facilities, such as lecture rooms; laboratories, libraries, health and sporting facilities as well as efficient ICT infrastructure and decent student accommodation. To this end, Government in March successfully hosted the inaugural Higher and Tertiary Education Infrastructure and Investment Conference whose results are beginning to yield good fruit.
We are equally seized with different funding options to ensure support of student financing in institutions of higher learning. It is our hope that these various initiatives will fully modernise and transform our institutions in line with global trends and that our students can purely focus on learning.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
My Government is further committed to economic empowerment and emancipation of our young people. Earlier this morning, I officially opened the EmpowerBank whose mandate is to ensure that there is adequate financing of youth projects, enterprises inventions and start-ups. I, therefore, challenge you all to take advantage to the bank’s innovative products to advance your business and creative ideas for wealth creation, creation of decent jobs and broad-based empowerment. Let us be bold, try new things and act fast.
As Government, we remain committed to comprehensively address the plight of students and young people in general, in tandem with economic growth and development. In the same vein, I challenge you to think outside the box to improve your comforts as you study. You as students and the youth in general must fight against the unbridled spirit of entitlement and instead entrench a culture of persistent and consistent hard work, realising that rewards come in due season.
Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen;
My Government is concerned with the moral decadence and associated health risks to learners, within our institutions. This situation cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. I exhort you to discern between right and wrong, what is false and what is true, what is evil and what is good, what is beautiful and what is ugly, before making judgment or decisions that may affect your lives and destinies. The education you acquire should help you to preserve our national identity, cultural heritage and moral societal fibre.
Our country cannot prosper or progress without values and virtues at both social and national levels and it is important for you as young people to realign those values through you words, acts and deeds.
As we approach the peak of an exciting and open campaign period towards the 2018 harmonised general elections: Government has put in place all the necessary measures to ensure that our elections are free, fair and credible. To ensure transparency in our electoral systems, we have, this time around invited Observer Missions from all over the world including the EU and Commonwealth.
In all our campaigning, we must refrain from political violence and reject those who preach division and intolerance. We are one family, one people, united by our flag and national anthem. What unites us as Zimbabweans is greater than anything that could ever divide us. The freedom to vote that you shall exercise on July 30 was acquired through the precious blood and sacrifices of the sons and daughters, some who were of your age. Use your vote as an instrument to defend this heritage for the sake of posterity
Nyika ino inhaka yenyu imi vechidiki
Ilizwe leyi lilifa lenu abatsha.
As your President, I pledge a brighter future for you all; a future of opportunities; jobs, prosperity and hope. I pledge more than just ideas, I pledge action, delivery accelerated economic growth and better life!
I wish you the best of luck in your studies and look forward to your contributions and dialogue in the future. Together we can build a new democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe.
God bless you all!
God bless Zimbabwe!
I thank you.