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Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa Discusses Economy, Land, Debt (Transcript)

By Antony Sguazzin

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke to Bloomberg News on Jan. 18 about how he intends reviving his country’s economy and re-engaging with international lenders in the post-Robert Mugabe era. He also outlined h plans to address historical issues such as land compensation and atrocities committed by the military in the 1980s.

Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

On Zimbabwe’s economic collapse:

“What is common cause is that we had become an isolated country, which had ceased to embrace international business. We are now a closed economy. We had no lines of credit. The Bretton Woods institutions had cut all lines of credit to our country. There are so many things that we need. We need the support of international financial institutions, we need bilateral relations where we get bilateral support from countries. We had remained an isolated island. This is the reason our currency collapsed, it became totally useless. I believe we are 16 to 17 years behind where we ought to be as a result of that situation.”

On the role agriculture plays in the economy:

“Our economy is basically an agricultural economy but our agriculture also collapsed because we had no funds to bring in chemicals, no funds to bring in fertilizers. Many indicators show that we have turned the corner. Agriculture over the last two to three years has begun to show positive growth. The same applies to the mining sector. The same for our tourism sector.”

On compensation for white farmers whose land was seized:

“Let me be very honest with you. Each land reform in history has been a unique situation. Our is a situation is that we were a colony where our land was taken. We went to war in order to reverse that situation. When we succeeded the next step was for us to take our land back. It’s now behind us. What we can do is to make sure that it is not abused where families have multiple farms. In terms of our constitution we must compensate. The issue is that the land is not for sale but people have come here and they have developed our land — built dams, infrastructure. We are already doing that exercise, many farmers are receiving that compensation. The valuation of these properties must be done and be agreed to. I believe it will run into billions down the line. Some of them are still with their farms but they have accepted a reduction in size.”

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