Story by Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent
FORMER Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano says Zimbabwe needs to re-assume its rightful place in the region as an economic powerhouse based on its abundant resources.
As Zimbabwe works towards clearing its international debt, the setting up of the Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution Process has become key for the country’s economic development.
President Chissano, who is the high-level facilitator for the structured dialogue platform, says he accepted the position given his close relationship with Zimbabwe and the fact that the country is a key player in the SADC regional bloc.
‘‘When His Excellency, Cde President Mnangagwa took the bold decision to break from isolation and seek Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the outside world, particularly with development partners, he moved towards setting up the structured dialogue platform to push the re, engagement agenda, and when he invited me to facilitate such dialogue, I wholeheartedly accepted the invitation with a sense of mission and responsibility to assist in bringing back Zimbabwe to its rightful place in the concert of nations. I would like to congratulate His Excellency, Cde Mnangagwa for his outstanding leadership in doing what it takes to bring Zimbabwe back to economic growth and socio-economic development path.’’
President Chissano says meetings with various stakeholders since his arrival in the country last weekend have been an eye-opener after exceeding his expectations.
‘‘The stakeholders emphasised that regular dialogue helps mutual understanding, build trust, move forward steadily and achieve progress.’’
With the country heading to the polls, the former head of state encouraged Zimbabweans to shun violence and avoid being manipulated by outside forces which have hidden agendas.
‘‘As Zimbabwe moves towards elections, we would like to encourage Zimbabweans to conduct themselves in an orderly manner during the election process. They should stay away from violence and choose freely their leaders and representatives in government and parliament. They must not allow themselves to be manipulated by anyone to engage in violence and any illegal acts that may undermine the electoral process.’’
The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who is a key player in the arrears clearance dialogue, says the engagement brings renewed hope for Zimbabwe, which has been affected by sanctions for the last two decades.
‘‘We gather mindful that 20 years of sanctions have affected Zimbabwe, the once thriving private sector of Zimbabwe has imploded. International banking has almost dried. Today 90 percent of the economy is now informal. Zimbabwe’s once thriving contribution as a nerve centre of the SADC region has been broken.’’
Dr Adesina commended Zimbabwe for forging ahead with the country’s development agenda despite swimming against the tide.
‘‘I was pleased when President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe attained self-sufficiency in wheat, much needs to be done. I accepted this role because I know the potential of Zimbabwe.’’
Dr Adesina also commended Zimbabweans for their resilience in the last two decades