His Excellency Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe,
His Excellency Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB),
Senior Government Officials,
Excellencies Members of the Democratic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for about 21 years. These sanctions have had devastating social and economic consequences on Zimbabwe and the Southern African region.
The country is grappling with high levels of poverty, huge unemployment, macroeconomic instability and debt distress.
The crisis in the country is having terrible consequences to the region, as Zimbabwe lies at the heart of Southern Africa.
Many regional infrastructure development plans, including roads, railways and power transmission lines have been brought to a standstill, as they have to run through the country.
The continental free trade is also undermined by the situation prevailing in Zimbabwe.
Bringing Zimbabwe back to the concert of nations is critical for the country, the region, and the continent as a whole.
The Government understood this imperative and His Excellency President
Mnangagwa took the bold decision of seeking reengagement with the international community, through a structured dialogue platform for Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution.
Once again, we commend the Government of Zimbabwe for this outstanding decision to undertake an effective dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.
This dialogue has registered tremendous progress. In a government-led and owned process, a set of matrices have been developed outlining several reforms to be undertaken by the government, covering economic, governance, land tenure and compensation of former commercial farmers issues.
These reforms, which have been a result of substantive discussions, offer a set of realistic and achievable commitments to be undertaken by the Government of Zimbabwe, drawn from the National Development Strategy One, with specific thresholds and target indicators drawn from internationally recognized standards, to measure performance.
This progress must be recognized, and we should encourage the Government to implement fully these commitments.
As we are now gathered in the 4th Structured Dialogue Platform Meeting for Zimbabwe Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution Process, it’s imperative that we take stock of the progress registered, as well as chart the way forward.
The first and foremost achievement of the process is the dialogue itself.
This is an achievement that should be celebrated and cherished by all, as it has afforded us an opportunity for a frank and open exchange of views on a wide range of issues that are critical for Zimbabwe’s re-engagement.
Productive dialogue remains the only path to re-engagement, as well as to arrears clearance and debt resolution.
This dialogue is also fundamental for rebuilding mutual trust and confidence between all stakeholders.
In this regard, the dialogue must continue and produce measurable commitments, to consolidate the gains made so far.
As the dialogue is pursued further, the Government must simultaneously embark in a process of implementation of the commitments contained in the matrices.
This is a process that requires determination by the Government to fully implement its agenda.
In the process of implementation there are some low hanging fruits to be harvested.
I refer, for instance, the conduct of free and fair elections, the 99-year lease, compensation of former commercial farmers under the global Compensation Deed (GCD), resolution of farms under BIPPAs, as well as an SMP to anchor macroeconomic reforms.
Harvesting these low hanging fruits is critical as they are likely to trigger decisive action towards arrears clearance and debt resolution.
We recognize that the process of dialogue is government led and owned.
We also recognize that the reforms envisaged in the matrices are the sole responsibility of the Government.
However, we should also be mindful that the Government, left alone, will not be able to implement all the commitments it undertook, simply because it doesn’t have the capacity to do so.
In this regard, we call upon the international partners to support this process and consider providing assistance for the Government to implement those commitments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The atmosphere within the structured dialogue platform is quite positive and mutual understanding and trust are being consolidated.
The structured platform dialogue model is unique and successful.
The Government of Zimbabwe, its Development Partners, Private Sector, and Civil Society have effectively re-engaged in a dialogue towards normalizing their relations.
The dialogue should therefore be continued, to consolidate gains made so far, but also beyond the current agenda, as the adopted model is proving its effectiveness.
In this journey, particular attention should be paid to spoilers, who
may seek to derail this promising process for their illegitimate benefits.
We hereby congratulate all stakeholders for remaining committed to this dialogue towards a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution Process.
I thank you for your kind attention.