President’s Address at UNGA 74
Allow me to congratulate you, Professor Tijjani Mohammed-Bande, on your election as the president of the 74th session of the General Assembly. Zimbabwe is confident that under your able stewardship, the General Assembly will accelerate the achievements of our organisation’s objectives.
May I also commend your immediate predecessor, Ambassador Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, for successfully presiding over the 73rd session of the General Assembly.
I address the General Assembly today following the sad passing on of the founding father of our country, the late former President, His Excellency, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
Zimbabwe is in transition and determined to overcome the reality that we are a collapsed economy with a collapsed currency, due to the illegal economic sanctions imposed on our economy. Since I took over the leadership of Zimbabwe, much has been accomplished with indicative recovery, stabilisation and growth. Immense progress towards macro-economic and fiscal stabilisation, as well as high-impact projects that pave the way for a private sector-led growth have been made.
Embedded in our aspirations, is a strong sense of urgency for us to eradicate poverty, achieve quality and relevant education, create employment for women and youths as well as mitigate the cross-cutting impact of climate change on our society and economy. Our people deserve better and we are committed to delivering.
The engagement and re-engagement with all countries of world towards returning Zimbabwe to its rightful place within the comity of nations is yielding notable progress. Our arms remain outstretched with a genuine heart of friendship and cooperation, to all those willing to take this new and exciting journey of Zimbabwe’s rebirth.
In our desire to deepen democratic space in our country, we have established an open political platform where we invite all political parties to frank debate and dialogue on aspects of socio-political and economic reforms.
Comprehensive and far-reaching reforms are being implemented by my Government for the benefit, protection and economic prosperity of our people, in line with their ever-changing aspirations.
Furthermore, the fiscal austerity and discipline has resulted in balanced books and a budget surplus which is unprecedented in our country. The impact of change and reforms on the generality of our people takes time, but we are in the right direction. We shall continue to put in place social safety nets to cushion the lower strata and most vulnerable members of our society and appeal for further multilateral support, in this regard.
These achievements are in spite of the continued albatross of the illegal economic sanctions. These sanctions constitute a denial of the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe, to develop and improve their quality of life. Furthermore, the sanctions are slowing down our progress, inhibiting our economic recovery and punishing the poorest and most vulnerable.
As the United Nations, let us boldly honour the disciples of our Charter. The wrongs of the world must be set right.
Unfair practices must be challenged; injustice, racism and all forms of oppression of man must be opposed and rejected.
My country applauds the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and all who stand with us in demanding the immediate and unconditional removal of these illegal sanctions. Those that imposed illegal sanctions must heed this call and lift them now. Cooperation is a win-win game. Sanctions are a lose-lose game. Zimbabwe deserves a restart.
Zimbabwe is also reforming laws and regulations governing trade, investment and the ease and cost of doing business. Restrictions on shareholding across all sectors of the economy have been removed and some public entities are being privatised. The new National Investment Policy reflects the commitment of my Administration to open up the economy.
In line with our modernisation and industrialisation agenda, we are enhancing the equality of our education to make it more relevant for modern technology and innovation.
Greater focus is now on science, technology and innovation, while incubation hubs and industrialisation parks are being established throughout the country. Increased collaboration between industry, small and medium enterprises and our education sector for responsive and relevant products, goods and services which answer to the ever changing needs of our country and the world at large.
In our quest to deepen constitutionalism; the rule of law; democratic practics; good corporate governance; transparency and accountability; the capacity of institutions that protect democracy, continue to be enhanced
The anti-corruption drive is being accelerated by my Government through supporting and strengthening institutions which help in the fight against this corruption cancer.
Notable progress has also been achieved in the area of political and legislative reforms. To date, the alignment of most of our laws to the Constitution is almost complete. We commend the support we continue to receive from the UNDP and other stakeholders.
The outdated media laws, access to information, protection of privacy and the old Public Order and Security Act have been repealed. New laws in relation to these areas have been enacted.
Let us accelerate our quest to end poverty by 2030. In the spirit of “leaving no one behind” synergies and greater coherence in the implementation of all global frameworks on sustainable development are imperative. The theme of this session, “Galvanising Multilateral Efforts for Poverty Eradication, Quality Education, Climate Action and Inclusion”, is most appropriate and timely.
As the “climate crisis” continues, the world is changing before our eyes. For us in Southern Africa, the recent Cyclone Idai serves as a reminder that the impact of climate change and its damage to humankind and life on earth, is dire and irreparable.
The Tropical Cyclone Idai left thousands dead, injured or displaced and a trail of infrastructure destruction.
We are still recovering from the disaster, whose cost of reconstruction and recovery is estimated to be about US$600 million, for Zimbabwe alone.
Let me take this opportunity to thank all well-wishers from across the world for the solidarity and support we received towards relief, recovery, reconstruction and other forms of assistance, following the cyclone.
Our country is an agro-based economy with agriculture sector contribution between 15 percent and 20 percent of the country’s GDP and about 60 percent of raw materials for industry. The impact of climate change has not only affected our agricultural productivity and food security, but also our hydropower generation capacity and overall economic recovery, growth and development. Consequently, my Government has since declared a State of National Disaster.
The importance of a re-invigorated and responsive multilateral system to promote global partnership for peace and development cannot be overemphasised. Zimbabwe shall continue to play its part towards the attainment of world peace and sustainable development.
The reform of the United Nations system making it more representative, empowered and responsive to fulfil its mandate is long overdue. Zimbabwe remains firm on the Africa position as enunciated by the Ezulwini Consensus.
Let me conclude by reiterating that Zimbabwe is reforming and undertaking a shared journey towards a better and more secure future. The task facing us is great, the road is long, winding and at times bumpy. But so is our potential and determination to succeed.
I urge the world to be patient with us, to support us and to join us on this new and exciting journey. Together we will realise our common vision of a common future free of poverty, hunger and conflicts, on a safe planet; for the benefit for all our people.
I thank you.