Zim steps up efforts to fight poverty
Harare-Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe has declared war on poverty, saying that the government will strengthen its efforts to address food security in the country.
President Mugabe was speaking at the country’s 35th Independence Celebration held in Harare on April 18.
He said the government is putting in place contingency measures to restore the country’s bread basket status.
“While the early rains had given us hope of a good harvest, as has persistently happened in previous years, I must say parts of our country, unfortunately, succumbed to a prolonged dry spell, thus putting a large dent on our efforts to achieve national food security” he said.
President Mugabe emphasised the need for the country to develop a National Irrigation Policy to deal with the persistent droughts that are being caused by climate change.
“As we look ahead to the next agricultural season, we hope for better rains, and that we will be in a better state of preparedness,” he said.
He added that the government had so far acquired an array of agricultural equipment from Brazil which will be used by smallholder farmers, on a cost recovery basis.
He urged relevant sectors to complement the programme through measures that reduce the cost of local inputs.
Such a development would make agricultural production more competitive, he said.
The President’s remarks comes at a time when climate change has caused havoc in most of the Southern Africa countries as some have experienced floods.
Namibia has not been spared as it has also been hit hard by droughts due to low rainfall over the last few years.
President Mugabe navigated through some of the country’s economic developments in the past years saying the economy registered a growth rate of 3.1 in 2014.
He said this was driven by better performance in mining, agriculture and the construction sectors.
He attributed this year’s under performance to antiquated plant and machinery, inflexible labour laws, influx of cheap imports, high cost of production and prevailing liquidity constraints.
“Last year’s budget implementation process experienced increases in expenditure pressures that was largely driven by high employment costs. As the result, the country faces challenges in funding developmental programmes.”
To address the recurrent problems, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe would launch a US$6, 5 million Business Enabling Environment Programme, which seeks to improve the business operating environment.
He said the government had begun consolidation of all diamond mining companies in Zimbabwe into one entity. This would see the government having 50 percent equity, whilst private investors share the remainder.
“The gold production is also expected to rise, following the availing of a US$100 million support facility for the sector.”
He said this would help boost revenue and create jobs.
In order to encourage value addition and beatification in gold production, the President said the government has secured the services of four reputable diamond cutting and polishing companies, and that there are measures in place to set up a local base metal and platinum refinery.
Another sector that performed well was tourism, which resulted in Zimbabwe being honoured with the Best Tourism Destination Award for 2014 from the European Tourism and Trade Council.
“The country was also awarded Best Cultural Destination and the sector’s growth is expected to further boost by ongoing expansion of Victoria Falls Airport, which is nearing completion,” he concluded.
This year’s independence celebrations were held under the theme “Zimbabwe at 35: Consolidating Peace, Unity and Economic Sovereignty.”