Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said the Government has set aside $60 billion for the timely payment of farmers by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) with the usual grain collection depots to be complemented by mobile and fixed collection points countrywide.
In the past, farmers complained that the delays in payments for the grain at depots affected them as prices of inputs were always going up.
The GMB has already started setting up over 500 collection points countrywide in light of the expected bumper harvest due to the good rains received this cropping season. The setting up of more points will end the challenge by farmers who were forced to travel long distances to markets to sell their grains.
Addressing the nation virtually to mark the 41st Independence Anniversary at State House in Harare, President Mnangagwa said:
“Treasury has set aside ZW$60 billion for the timely payment of farmers by the Grain Marketing Board. The usual grain collection depots will be complemented by mobile and fixed collection points throughout the country.”
The swift implementation of the Presidential Climate Proofed Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme, Presidential Input Support Scheme, Command Agriculture, Presidential Horticulture Programme and respective initiatives by farmers, he said, have also yielded positive results. He said due to the 2020/2021 summer cropping season, which was characterised by normal to above normal rainfall, there has been significant improvement of water levels in dams across the country.
The President said the good rains gave impetus for the implementation of the National Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Programme as well as the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme.
“To this end, we are speeding up the rate of completion of dams, with Marovanyati and Causeway dams having so far been completed. Gwayi-Shangani Dam will be completed by year-end,” said President Mnangagwa.
On the national cattle herd, he said the Government has through Presidential Climate Proofed Livestock Scheme intensified artificial insemination, distribution of tick grease and renovation of dip tanks countrywide.
In line with the vision of an upper middle-income economy by 2030, the President said Government continues to facilitate agricultural mechanisation for farmers at affordable cost, towards the success of the country’s agriculture revolution, improving production, productivity and profitability.
President Mnangagwa said the signing of the Global Compensation Agreement on July 29 last year is a re-affirmation of the irreversibility of land as well as a symbol of his administration’s commitment to constitutionalism, the respect of the rule of law and property rights.
“As Zimbabweans, we must now all work together for increased production, productivity and profitability of the agriculture sector. As the Second Republic, we will never betray that which made the many sons and daughters of our motherland to wage the protracted liberation struggle, paying the supreme sacrifice.
“We will always protect the significance and sacred spirituality of our land,” he said.
The President said the Second Republic is committed to upholding the gains of the liberation struggle.
“As a sovereign nation and people, the occasion of our Independence Day is a constant reminder of the need to preserve, safeguard and protect our liberation war heritage and the rich history of our country. This is the foundation and hallmark of our nation, today and forever,” he said.
Despite the disturbances caused by Covid -19, the President said, Government has kept the economy on a positive trajectory.
“Despite altered economic growth projections due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the reform agenda under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme realised indisputable successes. The successor programme, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), is now underway,” he said.
“The translation of NDS1 into 16 languages will enhance national vision sharing and robust implementation of the NDS1 strategy.”
The President said Government continues to realise budget surpluses with inflation, which had become a major source of macro-economic instability, now being contained.
He also noted that the foreign currency auction system has also enhanced transparency and accountability in the distribution and use of foreign currency.
President Mnangagwa said despite the natural disasters, Covid-19 pandemic and illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West, the country’s manufacturing sector has remained resilient.
“Locally produced goods and commodities now constitute a larger share of our country’s market shelves. In line with Government’s private sector-led development we applaud industry for its positive response to the Local Content Strategy,” he said.
“This is reflective of the positive national sentiments on our economic growth potential, anchored on the Second Republic’s consistent and predictable policy environment. The resuscitation of strategic industries such as fertiliser, iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, leather manufacturing, as well as food and beverages is being accelerated.”
For Zimbabwe to penetrate global value chains, he said, efforts are underway to structurally transform the economy from an exporter of predominantly primary products to higher nodes of industrial development.
He said these positive developments come at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has come into effect.
“It offers vast opportunities for the country to intensify its trade and exports drive. The introduction of the Border Efficiency Management System will see reduced congestion and enhanced efficiencies at our ports of entry,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said guided by the strategy to achieve a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, programmes that include increased exploration, expansion of existing mining projects, resuscitation of closed mines, opening of new mines, mineral beneficiation and value addition are being prioritised.
He urged provinces and communities to maintain a keen interest in the mining development projects to prop up provincial GDPs, create employment and improve the quality of life of locals.
The President also noted that since last year, the energy and power sector has witnessed relative stability in the supply of electricity and liquid petroleum products.
“Our quest to realise energy sufficiency is, therefore on course. At the Hwange Power Station, the expansion project of Unit 7 and Unit 8, which is set to add 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid, is now at 61 percent of completion,” he said.
A 280 MW capacity will be restored into the national grid when the overhaul of Unit 3 and refurbishment of Unit 6 are completed.
Following the approval of a US$310 million facility from India Exim Bank, work to extend the lifespan of the power station is expected to commence in earnest.
President Mnangagwa said the significant water inflows into Lake Kariba are set to guarantee adequate power availability from the Kariba Power Station.
“Informed by the Renewable Energy Policy and Bio-Fuels Policy, my Government is promoting private sector investments in the sector. To this end, an Independent Power Producer, Zimbabwe Zhongxin Electrical Energy is working on a 50 MW thermal power plant in Hwange, which is now 97 percent complete,” he said.
“In addition, eleven renewable energy projects have been commissioned and are feeding power into the national grid, with eight others generating power for own consumption.”
On the environment, he said preservation of wetlands, curtailment of pollution and sound legislation to stop the decimation of forests were critical. He said Zimbabwe has managed to grow its wildlife population but was concerned about increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict.
“Consultations are underway with the view of developing a comprehensive policy on this matter. The quest by our country to trade wildlife resources for the benefit of communities is ongoing,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Government is harnessing and effectively deploying local resources and human capital to upgrade and modernise the country’s infrastructure.
Responding to rain damage to roads and other infrastructure he said Government has launched Phase 2 of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme for the urgent rehabilitation of roads throughout all provinces.
The upgrading and expansion of the Harare-Beitbridge highway as well as rehabilitation, improvement and widening of sections of the Chirundu highway are progressing well.
The President said under the Second Republic, a relevant education system remains key to sustainable development and the achievement of Vision 2030.
“Informed by our heritage-based philosophy, unique country needs and realities as well as the broader global perspectives, the study of science related fields is being encouraged. To date, Innovation Hubs and Industrial Parks within our tertiary institutions are producing goods and services with far reaching national and economic implications,” he said.
Under NDS1 the Government’s foreign policy remains informed by national interests and the engagement and re-engagement as well as the Pan-African ethos.
“My Government is pursuing economic diplomacy for the advancement and economic prosperity of our country. Our arms remain outstretched to be a friend to all and an enemy of none, as we strive towards the realisation of a more peaceful, united and prosperous world,” he said.
This year’s celebrations are being held under the theme: “Zimbabwe at 41: Together, Growing our Economy for a Prosperous, Resilient and Inclusive Society”.
The celebrations come at a time when the nation is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“On 18 February 2021, Government launched the National Vaccination Programme to contain the spread of the deadly virus and ensure herd immunity. Allow me to take this opportunity to thank various partners and friends of Zimbabwe including the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and the Republic of India, for their support to our vaccination programme,” said the President. — @mashnets