Wednesday, October 09, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE, REUTERS) Mugabe seeks peace with ‘arrogant West
Grand arrival ... President Robert Mugabe arrived at parliament in a vintage Rolls Royce
17/09/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter I Reuters

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said Tuesday he was ready to re-establish normal relations with the "arrogant" Western countries that have questioned his re-election in a vote his rivals say was fraudulent.

Striking an unusually conciliatory tone as he officially opened the first session of the 8th Parliament, the 89-year-old, who has dismissed Western criticism of his 31 July victory, said he would pursue a constructive foreign policy based on cooperation with other countries.

The veteran leader arrived at parliament in a vintage Rolls Royce, flanked by police on horseback, some of the many colonial era-style trappings at odds with the politics of a leader known more for his verbal tirades against the West, especially former imperial power Britain.

His respect for tradition was evident in the parliamentary ceremony, which included a guard of honour, a fly-past by military jets and 21-gun salute. He was also invited to address the House by a bewigged speaker, another echo of British political convention. The 40-minute speech was also remarkable for its politesse.

“On the diplomatic front, we will continue to redouble efforts in promoting the political and economic interests and image of Zimbabwe in the region and beyond,” Mugabe said during a ceremony boycotted by the MDC-T which disputes his election victory..

“We will continue to play our part alongside other nations in the creation and maintenance of the peaceful regional and international environment.

“With the elections now behind us, we look forward to meaningful and effective collaboration with all the progressive members of the global community.

“We indeed stand ready to work even with those who even before were at odds with us, our detractors. On the other hand, Zimbabwe will continue to demand the immediate and unconditional removal of the illegal sanctions imposed by some western, arrogant countries.”

Mugabe's victory in the July 31 vote was endorsed as free by African observers but London and Washington questioned whether it represented the will of the country’s 13 million people and said sanctions against top figures in Harare should stay.

Normal ties with the West would help the country’s economic recovery from a decade-long slump that ended in 2009 with the scrapping of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar, and to that end Mugabe has been calling for a lifting of sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Zanu PF also pledged to deal with corruption which is said to be endemic in government institutions.

“My government will exercise zero tolerance to the scourge of corruption,” Mugabe said to applause from Zanu PF MPs, “Accordingly, structures to combat corruption shall be bolstered through the establishment of the National Prosecution Authority as prescribed in the new constitution.

“This independent body is set to take over the functions previously performed by the criminal division of the Attorney General’s office.

The composition of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission will also be aligned to the new constitution while anti-corruption commissioners will be required to adhere to a strict cord of ethics and to also publicly declare their personal assets.”

Pomp and circumstance ... Airforce jets also performed a fly past

A fund to back development in constituencies would be restore but legislators who abuse the facility would be arrested, Mugabe said.

“Numerous complaints have been raise over alleged abuse of resources from the constituency development by some members of the previous parliament," he said.

“To engender transparency and accountability in the handling of the resources, a Constituency Development Fund Bill shall be tabled in this parliament during this session. Members of this new parliament should take note that the law will descend heavily on all those who will abuse the fund.”

In addition, Mugabe pledged to revive struggling state-owned firms as well as strictly monitor the performance of those charged with the running of the companies.

“The need to revamp our ailing parastatals into high performers and competitive entities is more compelling considering that the entities have the potential to contribute about 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product,” he said.

“The enterprises should serve as engines of socio-economic development. Accordingly, government will be adopting measures aimed at systematically addressing the capacity weaknesses inherent in the management of most parastatal and local authorities.

“To reinforce this thrust, heads of all parastatal and local authorities will henceforth be required to sign performance contracts and to adopt the results-based management approach in order to engender accountability for results and ensure efficient service delivery.”

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