Prime Minister's Speech at stakeholders conference

FULL TEXT – Address by the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, the Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai at the opening of the Stakeholders Conference, Harare International Conference Centre.

Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Labour, Civil Society, Aid Agencies and Development Partners and Business Leaders;

Thank you for meeting with us today at this, our largest and most representative stakeholder summit. The aim of this summit is to create space for open and honest dialogue between government and the people we represent and to whom we are responsible.

As your government, we are here to listen to you – to listen to the issues and problems you face and to work with you to identify sustainable solutions so that we can work together to rebuild our country.

This is one is a series of summits where we are engaging with key stakeholders on a variety of issues. We are pleased that we have already hosted summits on Health, Water and Tourism and that we have summits scheduled on the Media, Education and Science and Technology.

This government does not view these summits as an end in themselves, but rather as a means through which we will develop a comprehensive work plan for each Ministry, with defined deliverables to which the Ministers and your government can be held accountable.

This work plan will be the primary product of our ministerial retreat which we will be holding next week and whose other objectives are to reinforce the growing sense of team work within this inclusive government; to understand the problems and issues our nation faces; and get agreement on the solutions to enable us to develop a detailed action plan to implement these solutions.

I would encourage each of the sectors represented here today, to develop your own work plans to compliment our efforts, for the challenges that face us as a nation are not ones which your Government can tackle on its own.

Your government is committed to ensuring that this consultative process continues for the life of this administration so that the policies developed and implemented are targeted specifically to the needs and aspirations of our people.

I would also like to acknowledge and express my appreciation for the past and continued role of the international community, in both addressing the humanitarian crisis facing our nation and in supporting our economic and political efforts to rebuild our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as Prime Minister, I am responsible for overseeing the formulation of government policy by cabinet and the implementation of said policy by the entirety of Government and I am encouraged by the overwhelming turnout we have here today and that we have had at our previous summits.

At the tourism summit which concluded yesterday, the organisers had planned for 100 participants and over 500 turned up. This overwhelming enthusiasm has been the hallmark of the efforts made by this new government to date, and was particularly noticeable in the way that our Short Term Economic Recovery Programme was received by the business community.

It is envisaged that through this consultative process a social contract between Government, labour, civil society and business will be developed which in turn will result in the creation of the National Economic Council as detailed in the Global Political Agreement.

It is the Global Political Agreement that guides us in this process. For in that agreement the political parties made firm, definable and irreversible commitments to address the economic, social and political ills that plague our nation.

In agreeing to this negotiated settlement to our country’s problems, your political leaders had to make painful compromises for the sake of the people. It is now important that those compromises serve as an investment in our united future and that we see an end to the previous political culture of insults and threats.

In order to bridge the gap between the divisive politics of old and a new, inclusive future, Zanu PF and the MDC need to transform from former ruling and opposition parties respectively, to inclusive governing parties who put the best interests of our nation first.

As leaders, it is essential that we set this example for our people to follow because the GPA binds us to both political and economic objectives, recognising that without political stability there can be no economic growth.

We must acknowledge that we are initiating our programme of economic development from a negative starting point and as such it is important that we manage expectations of what we will be able to achieve and when we will be able to achieve it.

While it is commendable that the government is committed to paying allowances to all civil servants, such is the state of our economy that we must recognise that it will be some time before we are able to define and pay sustainable salaries.

We need your assistance in informing the people about the steps we are taking to address their concerns and to assure them that we are doing everything in our power to move our development agenda forward as fast as possible.

However, there are many things that we can do to advance this agenda that cost no money. To enforce the rule of law is free; to work with former opponents for the betterment of our country is free; to pass reforming legislation to promote investor confidence is free. Thus our development agenda must not be held hostage by our significant fiscal restraints. Indeed, implementing these steps that cost nothing will pave the way for our economic growth.

Of particular importance is restoring the rule of law, without which we will not make progress on any front. I have tasked the Ministers of Home Affairs to ensure that all crimes are acted upon and the perpetrators arrested and charged. For too long a culture of entitlement and impunity has stained our society, but after the signing of the GPA no crime will go unpunished.

Indeed, this government is aware that most of the ongoing disruptions of agricultural production, which are being done in the name of the land reform process, are actually acts of theft using fraudulent offer letters. Those continuing to undertake these activities will be arrested and face justice in the courts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, while the task ahead of us all is immense, it is one that we can achieve through open and honest dialogue and cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all have a role to play in ensuring that the benchmarks contained in the Global Political Agreement, particularly in relation to economic development and democratisation, are implemented and adhered to.

In this regard, today’s summit is of particularly importance as represented here are all the sectors whose work, cooperation and vigilance are essential to the success of the political agreement. For there can be no economic growth without the rule of law, and without economic growth this government will not be able to fully address the humanitarian crisis our country faces.

Therefore, although you represent different sectors, together with us your government, you also represent the whole that is Zimbabwe. By working together today, we will provide the example that cooperation, irrespective of political or sectoral goals, is not only possible but essential if we are to move forward and develop our nation.

This spirit of cooperation has already seen results. To name but a few, our hospitals and schools have started functioning, basic commodities are more available at lower prices and the spectre of hyper inflation has been eradicated.

Thus we know that we can achieve what the people demand and deserve and those that embrace this new vision of governance, as outlined in the GPA, have nothing to fear from it. The international community has already pledged to match our progress with greater financial and technical support, and with a review of restrictive measures against individuals tied to the progress we make on restoring the rule of law.

In this I am encouraged by the favourable reports I have received from both Zimbabweans and members of the international community. We have a long way to go but there is now tangible evidence that we have started the journey, that we are working together and that we are prepared to put the needs and interests of our great country first.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is thus with great hope, expectation and belief in the people of Zimbabwe, in our leaders in all sectors and in the commitment of our international brothers and sisters that I declare this stakeholder summit officially open.

I thank you.