SONA Speech: Here is what Linda Masarira said
Labour Economist and African Democrats (LEAD) leader Linda Masarira has responded to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) arguing that it skipped important social issues.
she said a SONA that does not address social issues is as good as useless.
Below is the full text of her response to the SONA:
In response to HE Dr Emmerson Mnangagwa SONA yesterday, it is my singular honor to give our perspective of the current state of the Nation.
Firstly, unprecedented socio-economic growth is not reflective on the grassroots as the ordinary Zimbabwean is still struggling to make ends meet.
The accelerated implementation of the National
Development Strategy 1 should also match with the quality of livelihoods of civil servants, workers in general and those who are self employed in informal work.
We applaud efforts by the 2nd republic government to tighten monetary and fiscal policy measures to stabilize
the economy. Special mention goes to the Reserve Bank Governor Dr. John Mangudya and the Financial Intelligence Unit for curtailing speculative borrowing and other rent-seeking behaviour that had caused a turbulent economic climate.
In agriculture, there has been positive growth. In the spirit of leaving noone behind which is the current President’s mantra, we urge President Mnangagwa to spearhead the depoliticization of allocation of farming land, Presidential input and all agricultural activities in our quest to make Zimbabwe food secure and to enable equal opportunities to all Zimbabweans regardless to class in society, political party affiliation and any other discriminatory factor.
One of our major aims as Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) is to ensure that Zimbabwe reduces her reliance on importing food by substituting imported foods with healthier, fresh whole foods that our ancestors grew an empire on. We also believe that our traditional crops are less susceptible to hybridization, people still have the seeds, they are more suited to the soil and rain patterns of our region, to mitigate climate change and the cost of production.
As a nation, we really have to break our dependency on western bio-tech companies and products
(seeds, fertilizers and pesticides) through policy, change in farming practices, building our own
organic agricultural companies and going back to traditional farming methods. We believe that biotechnology or industrial farming methods are a national security threat to
the country and Africa. This is so because Americans have been using biotechnology as a market capture penetration strategy developed at Harvard in the 1950s, to drive their $127billion biotech revenue, through fostering dependency on American biotech companies and food. Food is being used as a biological weapon and we need a think tank to draw up counter strategies to protect the people of Zimbabwe from food bioweaponization.
Sadly investments in the lithium sector have been limited to connected people and foreign investors at the expense of local investors. Until we learn as a country to guard jealously our minerals, beneficiate and sell, Zimbabwe will never progress and we will remain struggling to stabilize our economy.
Contrary to President Mnangagwa’s statement that Government is decisively dealing with illegal mining
and smuggling of precious minerals. We have not witnessed the sincerity in curbing smuggling of precious minerals and illegal mining. We have seen the protection of the politically connected ones and cases been thrown out of court. Zimbabwe has the potential to grow into an economic powerhouse not only in Southern Africa but the whole of Africa.
What we need in Zimbabwe are independent institutions with strong binding legal frameworks to curb smuggling of precious minerals and illicit financial flows.
We notice that the energy ministry has primarily been concerned with the Hwange Unit 7. We haven’t heard howfar government had gone with the rural electrification program or government efforts
to expand the country’s energy mix, with focus on renewable energy in rural areas and Peri urban areas.
Despite energy supply being a key driver of the manufacturing and mining sector there hasn’t been sustainable effort to maintain a regular supply of energy in Zimbabwe. Industrialization and economic development, economic growth and energy consumption have a positive and linear correlation.
Lack of energy in most rural areas is affecting school going children who now have compulsory ICT, CALA and Science subjects which need energy to power gadgets. Rural school going children are constantly left behind, marginalized and existing in perpetual discrimination because of lack of commitment to afford them basic, standard and quality education like children in urban areas.
Indeed, modern and efficient infrastructure is the cornerstone
for economic development. State Enterprises and Parastatals have great potential
to contribute to economic growth yet the rampant corruption and unethical conduct at one of the biggest parastatals NRZ is swept under the carpet. Parliament which is supposed to play the representative role of the electorate dismissed a petition from NRZ ex workers outlining the labour violations, corruption and unethical conduct at NRZ. As long as ministries, government and parliament continue to protect unscrupulous CEOs, General Managers and Boards, the NDS agenda will be a futile exercise.
We appreciate government’s efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage. Renovations and the construction
of health centres, clinics and district hospitals are being
speeded up fair and fine, but we are more concerned with the actual quality healthcare. What is limiting availability of drugs and critical medical accessories in hospitals and clinics? Why isn’t government making serious commitment to provide quality and affordable healthcare?
A SONA without addressing social issues is as good as useless as people are directly affected by issues like health, education, food availability and sustainability of their livelihoods.
Youth empowerment programmes are applaudable as we desperately need empowered and financially independent youth. Scaling up programmes to
end the new menace of drug and substance abuse is not enough. We need commitment from the health ministry to classify Crystal methamphetamine popularly known as crystal meth/mutoriro/guka/dombo as a dangerous drug. Furthermore, we need the Ministry of Justice to criminalize distribution, sell and use of the same drug and the police to be empowered to clean up the streets of Zimbabwe from this mutoriro pandemic. Any police officer found taking bribes for protecting drug peddlers should be given a stiff penalty that is the only way we will be able to deal with this mutoriro pandemic.
We are hoping the Insurance Bill which seeks to replace the Insurance Act to address regulatory
gaps and weaknesses will also have a provision to protect senior citizens in the informal sector, pensioners and to protect all insurers from the various malpractices that are existing in the insurance sector which is committing daylight robbery on a daily basis through white collar crimes.
of the Labour Amendment Bill is a welcome move which we sincerely applaud as labour advocates.
We note that President Mnangagwa, stated that, “The Fifth Session must speedily consider
legislation towards alignment of the Devolution and
Decentralisation Programme of the Second Republic,
through amendments of the Provincial Councils and
Administration Act; the Rural District Council’s Act;
as well as the Regional, Town and Country Planning
Act. The Disaster Risk Management Bill will promote
the involvement of all citizens in effective disaster
preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery
Our ball of contention is how the duly nominated provincial councillors were not afforded an opportunity to function and the politicization of devolution funds at the expense of tangible development in provinces were these funds were allocated. We demand accountability on how these funds were disbursed and utilized.
In conclusion, women’s reproductive and maternal health remains a contentious issue in our country. We demand seriousness in provision of quality maternal healthcare especially in local clinics, which are almost always under equipped.
In the spirit of togetherness and building a united Zimbabwe, efforts should be made to improve the livelihoods of Zimbabweans. A nation’s success and economic stability is underpinned with the country’s citizens quality of livelihoods. Together united in our diversity we can build a better and brighter Zimbabwe for prosperity and posterity.
SONA Speech: Here is what Linda Masarira said