HON. I. S. G. MUDENGE
MINISTER OF FOREIGN
(check against delivery)
President of the General Assembly,
Your Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
My delegation congratulates you on your election to the Presidency of the 56th Session of this august body. Your election to this office is a demonstration of the confidence and trust that the international community has in you to steer it through the challenges of our time. It is our fervent hope that through your leadership, this Assembly will translate the Millennium Summit Declaration into reality.
I also take this opportunity to thank your predecessor, Mr. Harri Holkeri of Finland for the sterling work accomplished during the past session of this Assembly.
I am privileged today, to join others in congratulating Mr. Kofi Annan for his re-election as UN Secretary-General for a second term. Mr. Annan's reelection is indeed both a testimony to and recognition of his unique and rare abilities to give leadership, vision and unity of purpose to the international community in meeting the challenges that face us today. This recognition has been amply demonstrated by the conferment of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize on the person of Secretary-General Annan and the UN body. I congratulate both Mr. Annan and the United Nations.
The Secretary-General enters the elite corp of Nobel laureates at a time of the most serious challenge to international solidarity and cooperation, as we reflect on the events of September 11, when the people of the United States of America, and indeed the whole world, were plunged into unprecedented sorrow, in the wake of the heinous terrorist attacks here in New York and in Washington. This is indubitably the most brutal act of terrorism in this new millennium.
Our hearts go out to the families who lost their loved ones, and indeed all the people and government of the United States. It is our duty as members of this world body that stands for global harmony, peace and security, to say Never Again to such vileness. Zimbabwe lost two of its nationals in those tragic attacks.
As the people of the United States grapple with the threat posed by biological weapons of mass destruction in the form of anthrax, we in Zimbabwe, who have to date been the greatest victims of this weapon, know what it means and what you are going through. The anthrax spores that were spread by the racist regime of Ian Smith during our liberation struggle some more than twenty-one years ago continue to claim victims exclusively within the black population in our country to this day. We are thus not only vehemently opposed to this and other forms of terrorism but we know the pain and loss associated with it.
In my address to last year's session of the General Assembly, I dwelt at length on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since that time, considerable progress has been made in implementing the Cease-fire Agreement in that country. All those involved in the process, the signatories to the Cease-fire Agreement and the UN Security Council, are agreed that conditions are now propitious for the deployment of UN peacekeepers under Phase III of MONUC's deployment. As matter of fact, just yesterday, the Security Council adopted resolution 1376 supporting the launching of Phase III deployment of MONUC. Nevertheless, the Security Council continues to show hesitancy almost amounting to lack of commitment and or confidence in the DRC peace process.
I wish to reiterate our appeal to the Security Council to more strongly and convincingly demonstrate its support for peace in the DRC through the provision of adequate human, financial and other resources. We note, in this context, that as at 30 September 2001 unpaid assessed contributions to the MONUC special account amounted to $246.9 million. In addition, the Trust Fund established by the Secretary-General in October 1999 to support the peace process in the DRC had, two years later, only received the paltry sum of $1.1 million. The serious matter of inadequate resources was one of the factors that contributed to the curtailment, both in numbers of participants and duration, of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Addis Ababa last month. We welcome and appreciate South Africa's offer to host and meet some of the expenses attendant to the next session of the national dialogue but we hasten to add that South Africa must not be abandoned and burdened, on its own, due to this generosity and willingness to contribute to the peacemaking efforts in the DRC. We all must play our part in restoring peace and stability to the DRC and indeed to the Great Lakes region.
The continued unnecessary displacement, suffering and loss of life among the civilians in Angola is indefensible. We have, through the Sanctions Committee and other measures, determined that UNITA must be denied and deprived of the resources and means to continue to wage war against the Angolan people. It is time that we ensure that those sanctions are indeed effective by not only respecting that sanctions regime ourselves but also exposing those that continue to aid and abet UNITA in its deadly activities.
The Israeli - Palestinian cauldron boils on with the attendant loss of innocent lives, destruction of property and further escalation of tensions and conflict. The situation in the Middle East demands urgent attention and resolution on the basis of the longstanding General Assembly resolutions 242 and 338.
One of the most enduring features of the present and the latter part of the last century has been the persistence of the colonial legacy in many developing countries. That legacy has been evident in relations between and within states. We need not recall much further evidence of the persistence of this phenomenon than the proceedings at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa barely two months ago. Much in evidence also was the continued refusal by some former colonial powers to acknowledge the devastating effects colonialism has had and continues to have in the economic development of most of the former colonies. It is not accidental that it is these former colonies who today occupy the lower rungs of the development totem pole.
In Zimbabwe, the colonial legacy is poignantly evident in the racially skewed land ownership structure in the country as a direct result of racist policies and laws of successive colonial regimes between 1890 and 1980. Over 70% of the best arable land is owned and utilised by approximately 4100 white farmers mostly of British descent while over 8 million black peasants eke out a living from the remaining 30% of the worst arable land. Such a situation has to be corrected in the interests of equity, justice, social harmony and political stability in the country and indeed in our region of Southern Africa. On the basis of these and other objectives, we have made it abundantly clear that in correcting these imbalances no white farmer with a genuine desire to farm would be taken off the land.
The lofty objectives of the UN Charter in the economic arena will remain unfulfilled unless all member states join in efforts, genuinely and seriously, to redress inherited colonial imbalances that persist in developing countries. Social justice, political stability and sustainable development in Zimbabwe can best be achieved through genuine and committed support for land redistribution programmes than through vilification or demonisation of its leadership and policies.
It is most unfortunate that our efforts at rectifying unsustainable colonial imbalances are- seen by some as a crisis yet the real crisis lies in the persistence of that legacy. We wonder whether the same conclusion would have been reached had the 4000 white farmers been the intended beneficiaries of our current land redistribution programme.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become a serious developmental issue. As the Secretary General's report of 2000 indicates, the pandemic is destroying the economic and social fabric in our countries. Zimbabwe's infection rate in the adult population is estimated at 30% while hundreds of thousands of children have already been orphaned as a result of this dreaded disease. In the light of this, my government, and indeed other developing countries, will need all the assistance we can get to complement our own AIDS Trust Fund that our government has set up aimed at strengthening the existing structures to prevent the spread of the disease as well as to make available affordable drugs and treatment.
The international community should evolve strategies that will ensure that AIDS drugs from pharmaceutical companies become more affordable to developing countries. Let me extend my sincere thanks to the UN Secretary General for convening the Special Session on HIV/AIDS in June this year and hope that the implementation of the resolutions of that conference will go some way in checking the spread of the disease.
In conclusion, let me assure one and all that Zimbabwe will partner all international efforts towards the eradication of terrorism in all its forms as well as exert all energy in combating the pestilence attendant upon humanity, especially poverty, underdevelopment and HIV/AIDS.
I thank you.