PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday night shied away from the confrontational approach of his predecessor, telling global leaders that Zimbabwe will accept criticism and advice from observer missions to the country’s election held in July.
Mnangagwa, who took over as President when Robert Mugabe was forced to resign in a de facto coup last November and won the disputed July 30 election, is trying to rid the country of the pariah status it acquired under the former leader.
“We are grateful to the UN and other member states for sending election observer missions and for the technical assistance received by our election management body. The recommendations will be taken into account as we deepen our democratic and electoral processes,” Mnangagwa said.
“We shall continue to entrench constitutionalism, democratic traditions and norms, peace unity and harmony; for it is indeed under such conditions that sustainable development, inclusive economic growth and prosperity can occur.”
Mnangagwa also told his contemporaries that unlike Mugabe, he had opened up the democratic space in Zimbabwe to allow for unfettered opposition participation.
“Following my deliberate and conscious decision to open up the democratic space and emphatic call for peace, unity and tolerance of divergent views amongst our people; political contestations, election campaigning, voting and counting processes were conducted freely, peacefully and transparently,” he said, adding he regretted the August 1 killings by the military and that he had set up a commission of inquiry on the matter.
Where Mugabe would have ranted and angrily kicked out at “enemies” sponsoring regime change in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa appealed for the removal of sanctions.
“We call for their immediate and unconditional removal,” he said .
Mnangagwa said now that the elections had come and gone, Zimbabwe was now focusing on economic development, as the country seeks to enhance its modernisation and industrialisation programmes.
Mnangagwa said in tandem with the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063, his government had outlined its vision to become a middle-income economy with a per capita income of about $3 500.
“This will bring on board increased investment, decent jobs, broad-based empowerment and a society free from poverty and corruption by 2030,” he said.
Mnangagwa said the country was presently undertaking a raft of economic and political reforms to ensure an environment that facilitates inclusive and sustained economic growth.
“We have put in place institutions and instruments that maximise land utilisation and increase agriculture productivity,” he said.
“Equally, strategies are in place in the various sectors of our economy, to enable my country to enter the global value chains. The development and modernisation of our roads, railways, airports, energy and ICT infrastructure is being accelerated in line with our regional and continental quest for enhanced connectivity and integrated infrastructure.”