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The Other State of the Nation Address (OSONA)

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Dear Compatriots, Comrades, and Friends.

Since independence in 1980, our nation has experienced moments of joy punctuated with anguish and trauma. The dream of our liberation struggle of a “government for the people, by the people, for the people” has turned into a nightmare for many. An entitled elite has dominated politics and the economy much to the detriment of the silent majority.

We have been at each other’s throats with Gukurahundi being the worst example of the terrible things we are capable of doing to each other. Very often our disagreements have degenerated into naked violence particularly before, during and after elections.

Foreign and self-inflicted wounds have buffeted our economy resulting in unprecedented levels of unemployment and social destitution. From being the breadbasket of the region soon after independence we have become an international pariah and the butt of jokes around the globe. This sad state of affairs has driven many of our people into exile. I think Zimbabwe has the capacity to establish the most stable democracy on the continent, and our people deserve it. This can only happen when our thinking converges on a singular national ethos that is homegrown.

Since assuming office in 2018 the sorry state of affairs that has haunted our nation has caused me tremendous pain. I have been doing a lot of introspection and wish to use this opportunity to share with you the heavy nation-building work we have been engaged in:

1. The Loyal Opposition Leader Nelson Chamisa and I have been engaged in protracted discussions regarding the future of our nation. We agree that an election in 2023 will not solve four decades of poor governance, corruption, and destruction of our economy and national institutions. We have agreed to postpone the 2023 elections and instead facilitate an all stakeholders convention. With your permission, we will be coming before parliament with appropriate legislation to allow this to happen. Our joint desire is to draw a line in the sand to contested elections, violence and the division that has been the hallmark of our elections in the recent past.

2. Our joint desire is for a National Convention that will bring all stakeholders together to lay a new foundation for the Zimbabwe we crave. The 2013 Constitution, a product of broad-based national consultation, will constitute the guiding principle of this convention. The work of aligning all national laws to the constitution and enhancing the rule of law are important aspects of nation-building. Our proposal is that the National Convention replaces the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) and expands the tent to help find each other.

3. The public has largely lost trust in politicians and democracy. The government’s actions and pronouncements over the recent past have eroded the public trust in most institutions. The conduct of most opposition politicians points to the need for a new political order driven by competence and a people’s agenda. Only a foundation laid by us all via the proposed National Convention will bring back public trust which is important for our society.

4. Nelson Chamisa and l agree that sanctions are hurting the economy. The government will kick start an earnest effort to remove all obstacles to genuine engagement between ourselves. It is only when we achieve internal unity that we can look abroad for fair engagement with other nations especially those that have imposed sanctions on us. It is in our national interest to deal with all the issues that have been cited as stumbling blocks to the lifting of sanctions.

5. We are proud to be making these landmark remarks in this new parliament building which is part of the infrastructural work that my government has been rolling out under tough economic circumstances. We have noted the calls for transparency in awarding infrastructural projects. We note in particular allegations of corruption around these projects and the suspicion that my family members and those close to me are benefiting from this infrastructure boom. Law enforcement agencies and the anti-corruption commission will be allowed unfettered powers in acting on these allegations. We will seek the help of private law firms and all stakeholders in effectively dealing with corruption. Justice must prevail without fear or favour upon those found to have corruptly enriched themselves.

6. The full potential of our economy will only be realised once land, our biggest asset after our people, is made bankable again. All stakeholders at the Convention will deliberate on this matter with a view to restoring sanity in farming and financing of agriculture. We must become the breadbasket of the region again!

7. Brand Zimbabwe has been tainted by corruption, abuse of human rights by State actors, failure to respect private property, and the selective application of the law. This has to be corrected without delay.

8. The police, the army, and intelligence services must become professional again, with merit being paramount in recruitment practices. The constitution, and not political considerations, must guide the operations of these important institutions. Our soldiers must go back to the barracks as per the dictates of their profession and allow politicians to lead.

9. High on the National Convention agenda will be the urgent and important work of resuscitating and strengthening the four pillars of our democracy, namely the the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and, of course, the press. An independent judiciary whose appointment is decided purely on merit is our only protection against the abuse of power and should undergird our constitution.

10. We cannot build the nation without attending to all hurts and wounds from our painful past. Truthtelling and national healing are key building blocks to reconciliation and enduring peace.

Comrades, friends, and countrymen, my generation successfully prosecuted our war of liberation but has been found wanting on the task of nation-building. Our gallant liberation struggle is indeed incomplete as long as the poor, the orphans, and the widows continue to endure crippling poverty. It is my hope and fervent prayer that the next parliamentary gathering will be part of the many outcomes of the National Convention and a values-and- issues-driven electoral process. What we owe each other is the common burden to build a new nation that reflects the best in all of us.

God Bless Zimbabwe

In Conversation with Hopewell Chin’ono

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In part 2 of Hopewell Chin’ono ICWT the episode focuses on the importance of good leaders and why sanctions against Zimbabwe should be lifted. Hopewell reveals that initially a good number of people supported the coup against President Robert Mugabe. Watch the episode here.

In Conversation with Mo Ibrahim

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Don’t miss the next episode with Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation & Satya Capital Limited Mo Ibrahim in conversation with Tevor.

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Book of the Week

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Summary: What We Owe Each Other is a book by Minouche Shafik, one of the leading policy experts of our time, giving an urgent rethinking of how we can better support each other to thrive.

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yours on Amazon

Recommended Reading:

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

by Hector Garcia


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