Good morning to you all.
I am honoured to be addressing this Second Structured Dialogue Platform Meeting on Zimbabwe’s Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution process, thank you for joining us. Today’s gathering follows our successful first Structured Dialogue Platform meeting, held in Harare, on the 1st of December last year, marking the beginning of an important process for Zimbabwe.
This initiative highlights my Government’s commitment to clear our outstanding debt arrears, including those to the African Development Bank Group, other multilateral institutions, and bilateral creditors.
Allow me to welcome a distinguished African elder statesman, the Former President of the Republic of Mozambique, His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, who graciously accepted my invitation to him, to be our High Level Facilitator for Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process.
I equally welcome my brother, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank Group. One year ago, I asked Dr. Adesina to champion this process. He not only kindly accepted to do so, but worked speedily to get the process in motion by availing the human and material resources for my Government towards this important initiative.
The Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube is responsible for the day-to-day management of this process on the part of the Government of Zimbabwe.
Distinguished Guests; As you are aware, Zimbabwe has been under various forms of punitive sanctions for more than two decades.
Our country has demonstrated great resilience, despite the deleterious impact of these sanctions on our economic, social and political landscape.
The Southern African region has also not been spared from their negative and inhibitive spill over effects.
As I said in my opening remarks last December, we have adapted to our reality, after all, we have no choice. The people of Zimbabwe, like any other, have their needs, hence, as a responsible Government, under the Second Republic, we opted to look inward and use our internal resources to provide a higher quality of life for our people, while growing our economy.
However, as we do so, Zimbabwe’s debt overhang continues to weigh down heavily on our development efforts. We have no access to new lines of credit, including from the multilateral banks, such as the World Bank Group. The Zimbabwean Government and the African
Development Bank Group agreed therefore, to put this Structured Dialogue Platform in place, to provide space for constructive and structured dialogue on arrears clearance and debt resolution.
Our first Structured Dialogue Platform meeting brought together our international development partners, represented by 22 diplomatic envoys, together with our own cabinet ministers, senior Government bureaucrats and officials of multilateral development banks. I once again thank everyone for their support of this process.
Our aim going forward is to produce outcomes that will lead to a High-Level Debt Resolution Forum.The issues, perspectives and recommendations raised by both stakeholders and partners during the December meeting were invaluable. The consensus and broad endorsement of a Central Pin Strategy, which is composed of three pillars, gives good guidance on the way forward.
The first aspect relates to Economic Reforms. The second is on governance issues while the third relates to our commitment to a sustainable land tenure system.
The compensation of former commercial farmers for improvements made on farms as well as the resolution of cases of farms affected during the Land Reform, which were covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) will also be considered under the third pillar.
With regards to economic reforms, we recognise that exchange rate stability is a key area that requires continued attention. So far, multi- pronged routes are being pursued to ensure greater certainty around this matter.
I am pleased to highlight that, my Government has agreed a compensation package with former commercial farmers for improvements made on the land , under the Global Compensation Deed. We remain committed to the resource mobilisation efforts to enable payment of this obligation.
Under the Governance Pillar, my Administration is unwavering in its adherence to Constitutionalism, the rule of law and the tenets of good governance and democracy.
We will ensure that our laws are applied consistently, without fear or favour.
Zimbabwe will conduct free and fair elections this year, consistent with our Constitution and electoral laws. In addition, human rights concerns are being addressed in line with our country’s laws and international conventions.
On BIPPAs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade along with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development are engaging the affected investors, on a case by case basis. I am confident that this process will yield win- win outcomes.
Ladies and Gentlemen; One of the challenges with this process is how to measure and find common ground with regards to the indicators of a good trajectory to progress. In this regard, I am pleased to note that the agreement is to use the Sector Performance Indicators and Targets contained in the Results Framework of our National Development Strategy (NDS 1).
Over and above this, my Government continues to demonstrate its commitment through quarterly token payments to various creditors, according to an agreed payment schedule.
Following the generous support of the African Development Bank, we have engaged consultants, who are providing critical advice on the process of finalising the policy matrices.
My Government Ministries will coordinate with the African Development Bank Group and work with you all towards a credible implementation framework. Our overall aim is to reach a point where the issues underpinning the arrears clearance and debt resolution process are agreed through consensus that takes into account our country’s unique realities.
Rest assured, that as a Government, we are very keen to see Zimbabwe in good standing with all its creditors and determined to deliver favourable outcomes for the people of our country and the expectations of creditors.
I am personally appreciative of the valuable contributions and engagements since the first Structured Dialogue Platform meeting and stand ready to maintain an opendoor policy, as an avenue to resolve any outstanding issues.
Finally, I want to express my profound gratitude to Dr.
Adesina, our Champion, and his staff at the African Development Bank Group for their steadfast and generous support towards Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process.
I wish you fruitful and successful deliberations. Allow me to now invite His Excellency, Former President Joaquim Chissano to deliver his remarks in his esteemed role as Facilitator of this process. Thereafter, Dr Adesina, our Champion and President of the African Development Bank Group, will also give us his remarks.
God bless you all.
I thank you.