New world beckons: President

Mabasa Sasa at the United Nations
\nHumanity is on the verge of a brave new world – but commitment to the transformative agenda is needed to reach the Promised Land. This was President Mugabe’s message to his fellow world leaders at the United Nations on Friday as they adopted a new raft of targets that will steer international co-operation and national development from 2016 through to 2030. The 193 members of the UN were represented at the Summit for Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

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And all unanimously endorsed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that succeed the relatively successful Millennium Development Goals of 2000 to 2015. President Mugabe said, “This agenda promises a brave new world, a new world which we have to consciously construct, a new world that calls for the creation of a new global citizen.

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“I want to believe that we are up to this task that we have voluntarily and collectively committed ourselves to. Our success, and in particular the promise of a new world that awaits us, depends upon this commitment.” The Zimbabwean leader and African Union Chair pointed out the many boulders strewn on the path to this brave new world; not least among them unequal relations between nations, transnational looting of resources and the albatross presented by the form and structure of the Bretton Woods institutions.

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In Zimbabwe’s particular case, the continued imposition of ruinous economic sanctions by Western countries constituted a direct contradiction to the spirit with which this brave new world could be created, President Mugabe said. And “freed of the fetters of sanctions”, the Head of State and Government said, the country would be in better stead to meet the SDGs.

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He said the unjustified economic embargo of the past 15 years stood in the way of full implementation of reforms spearheaded by his administration to attract investment, and full results would materialise with the end of the sanctions. “We call for the unconditional and immediate removal of the sanctions in the spirit of the transformative agenda that we are about to subscribe to . . . Sanctions, they are hurting our country.”

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Other barriers to success of the SDGs, President Mugabe said, were the continued haemorrhaging of Africa’s resources through “transfer pricing, tax evasion and other criminal activities”; while there was also need to institutionalise the principles of a rules-based, transparent, and predictable trade system as envisaged by the Doha Round.

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He said reform of the World Bank and IMF was long overdue, and these were issues that had “been with us for far too long”, constituting a “huge part of the baggage we need to shed off”. Despite the many obstacles, President Mugabe noted, Zimbabwe had managed to score some success with the MDGs – though he acknowledged that much more needed to be done and that his country stood ready to implement the SDGs to the best of its fiscal abilities.

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He said his Government’s key priority at present was putting the country back on the path to sustained growth, and empowerment of people played a major role to this end. “In pledging that no one will be left behind as we embark on this collective journey, our agenda is (creation of a truly empowering instrument and mechanism…

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“In Zimbabwe, we have adopted and are implementing several programmes to empower our previously disadvantaged people. “A key component of our empowerment agenda has been the Land Reform Programme, which – contrary to detractors – has lifted many families out of poverty.

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“We are determined to leave no one behind in the spirit of the new agenda (SDGs). We will, therefore, continue to refine and adjust our empowerment programmes so that they encompass all the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our country.” President Mugabe underscored the importance of mobilisation of domestic resources in implementing the SDGs as this was in line with the principle of national ownership of the development agenda.

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But beyond that, he emphasised, there was need for “a coherent and supportive international environment”.