By Shadreck Gurenje
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that beyond grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to keep the economy functional while unavoidable shocks and disruptions must be mitigated.
The Head of State and Government said these remarks in a video address on the occasion of the 40th Independence Day commemorations today the 18th of April. Forty years ago, Zimbabwe became a self-governing country after nearly a century of settler colonial rule, it became a sovereign nation born out of protracted armed struggle.
President Mnangagwa said that the silver lining to the present global health crisis is the awakening of the nation's creativity and inventiveness. He commended local industries and Universities for manufacturing medical materials much needed to combat Coronavirus.
"It is commendable that local industries and universities have become hubs for import substitution, starting with the essential materials needed for immediate use in our health sector. My administration is committed to support the manufacturing processes developed as part of our defence against Covid-19.
It is the expectation that buoyant industries that meet our needs, while serving regional, continental and even global demand will emerge henceforth. Scientific research, development, innovation and technologies for the vast economic spectrum towards greater value addition will be encouraged. Let us strive to be a knowledge-building, and knowledge-driven society, by turning our literacy levels to real goods and services for our people and beyond," said President Mnangagwa.
He mentioned that the mining sector must redouble its efforts to facilitate the resuscitation of our economy adding that projects already underway across different minerals coupled with the ongoing reforms give hope that the target of a 12billion dollar mining sector by 2023, is achievable.
Also, President Mnangagwa said the water inflow into Kariba Dam, which is a key source of our hydro-power, is improving and the thermal energy must compliment renewable energy sources.
"It is integral that the energy mix continues to improve with regards to both the thermal generation capacity as well as renewable energy sources.
"I, thus, urge all stakeholders to be robust, flexible and responsive and to keep the bigger national interest in perspective. Silo mentalities have no place in the course we are taking. The two Units, 7 and 8 at Hwange Power Station under construction are expected to be commissioned during the second quarter of next year, these will bring in an additional 600MW to the National Grid," he said.
Furthermore, President Mnangagwa implored players in the tourism and manufacturing sectors to prepare innovative strategies for recovery, diversify and possess a broader modernization agenda to meet the needs of society and also penetrate the global value chains.
President Mnangagwa also said that government will move swiftly to revisit and implementing the Rural Development Policy after realizing that rural areas are a refuge and safe haven in times of national and global crisis.
"Government will move with greater speed to re-look at, and implement our Rural Development Policy. The need for suitable housing, sanitation, energy, along with accessible water, ICT and other social amenities in our rural areas should not be placed on the back burner of our national development agenda," he said.
President Mnangagwa reassured the nation that the 2nd Republic will accelerate multi-pronged empowerment initiatives for start-ups and SMEs, especially those run by the youth and women, to grow and strengthen the manufacturing industrial base considering the fact that the economy is now highly informal.
Also, he said the inclusion of women and youth in decision making positions in the public sector, will also be consolidated.
Zimbabwe is celebrating its milestone 40th Independence Anniversary in the context of unprecedented times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Mnangagwa applauded the responses from the Health Services, Security, Pharmaceutical, private sectors, churches, Traditional Leaders, Higher education and tertiary institutions and Non- Governmental Organizations in ensuring the country's preparedness to fight Covid-19 together with the nation as a whole for behaving well during this National Lockdown.
He extended his gratuity to People’s Republic of China, United Kingdom, United States of America, UAE, European Union, the World Health Organization and other United Nations Agencies, as well as the Jack-Ma Foundation, among many other international organizations and well-wishers, who have generously supported the nation's fight against COVID-19.
President Mnangagwa urged the nation to remain hopeful and steadfast in spirit knowing that Vision 2030 is alive and that beyond COVID-19, its accomplishment must be accelerated.