Zimbabwe

STATEMENT BY
HIS EXCELLENCY ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE

ON THE OCCASION OF
THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

12 SEPTEMBER 2002

The President of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly,
Mr. Jan Kaban,
Your Majesties,
Your Excellencies,
Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. President, let me congratulate you Mr. Jan Kaban for assuming the Presidency of the 57th Session of the General Assembly. I am confident that your leadership will successfully carry us through this session. We extend to your predecessor, Mr. Han Seung-Soo, our sincere appreciation for the excellent manner in which he steered the work of the just ended 56th Session of this General Assembly.

My delegation warmly welcomes Switzerland as a new member of this family of nations. I would be remiss if I do not pay tribute to the United Nations for its role in ensuring a smooth transition of East Timor into statehood. We believe that the new nation will for some time continue to require the support of the international community in its efforts at nation building. We look forward to welcoming East Timor into the United Nations in the near future.

Mr. President, yesterday, the United States and indeed the whole world commemorated the first anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Terrorism is a threat to international peace and security. No matter where it occurs, no matter whom it is directed at, and no matter what form it takes, the scourge of terrorism must be condemned and dealt with decisively and in conformity with the ideals and principles of the United Nations Charter. The adoption of unilateral measures by some countries to combat terrorism is not only counterproductive but also undermines the mandate and effectiveness of the United Nations. In dealing with this scourge, the world community needs to focus on identifying and addressing its root causes such as poverty, the denial of fundamental freedoms and the absence of social justice.

Mr. President, the United Nations has in front of it a volatile situation in the Middle East with a potential to engulf the entire sub-region. The Palestinian question should be resolved without further delay as it is causing untold suffering to the people in the occupied territories. Israel must withdraw her forces from Palestinian lands and, the Palestinians must be afforded the opportunity of having a state of their own. The carnage that is going on at present will benefit neither side. Israel must know that her chances of peace and security lie in having a Palestinian state that will live side by side with it in mutual respect of sovereign states.

We believe that Palestinians should be left alone to elect leaders of their choice, as it is their democratic and sovereign right to do so. It is only leaders so elected who can ensure peace and stability within the State of Palestine, and between Palestine and all its neighbors. We note with concern that some countries wish to arrogate to themselves the right to choose and/or impose leadership in developing countries by sidelining and/or overthrowing democratically elected governments. Not only is this a negation of democracy and democratic principles but also it is an outright interference in the internal affairs of independent sovereign states, and must be resisted.

Zimbabwe welcomes the emergence of peace in Angola, a fellow member of SADC, and urges that both sides to the conflict remain committed to the Memorandum of Understanding signed earlier this year. The international community should urgently assist the country in consolidating the peace and move on with the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. This is a small price to pay in order to give the people of Angola the peace that has eluded them since the 1950s.

Mr. President, we are also pleased that the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo is moving in the right direction. We would like to recognize the efforts of the Government of South Africa and the United Nations in this regard, and to call on the United Nations to take strong measures against those who violate the agreed cease-fire.

Let me take this opportunity to announce once again that, in view of these positive developments, Zimbabwe is in the process of withdrawing its remaining forces in the DRC. We, however, hope that the Security Council will act boldly and without favor in ensuring that peace is consolidated in the DRC, and immediately proceed with the full deployment of MONUC III.

In the same vein, we note that the mandate of the Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of the Natural Resources of the DRC expires in December 2002. It is our fervent hope that this time around, the Panel will have the courage to fully expose the economic agenda of the countries that invaded the DRC.

Mr. President, we are gathered here to chart the way forward towards the creation of a world fit for all of us to the turn of the century and beyond. We meet against the backdrop of crucial Summits that were held this year, during which landmark decisions were made regarding global economic, social and sustainable development. Among these were the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development, and the just ended World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is our hope that_ the decisions of these conferences will translate into meaningful cooperation among development partners. In this context, we welcome the pledges made for increased development assistance, and the commitment to sustainable development, which are the quintessence for future generations.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, the World Summit on Sustainable Development demonstrated beyond doubt the unwillingness on the part of some developed countries to commit themselves more meaningfully to these international undertakings, preferring instead to hide behind hackneyed and spurious conditionality which all but oppose and negate the practice of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights in the developing world.

While we all cherish these values, we are dismayed that they are increasingly being used by developed countries that themselves have checkered democratic credentials and poor human rights records, to settle political scores and to forestall the economic development of countries whose governments they do not like. When we see these same countries propping up regimes that are blatantly undemocratic, we cannot but conclude that this willful co-mingling of issues is just an excuse for doing nothing about the legitimate demands for addressing the development aspirations of developing countries. The United Nations General Assembly should express its deep dismay at the dishonest attempts by these countries and call upon them to stop the abuse of international agreements and shared values to express and impose their own interests upon other, often smaller nations.

We call for improved global governance through the democratization of multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization. There is also need for coherence in global policy-making. In the same vein, the management of the globalization process should not be left to market forces alone but should be regulated in a way that gives it a human face and reverses the marginialization of most developing countries.

In the area of world trade, we call for a level playing field in agenda setting and rulemaking in the World Trade organization. We also need to see greater market access opportunities for goods of export interest to developing countries in developed country markets as well as addressing issues of commodity pricing. In addition, we call for the removal of agricultural subsidies, which have depressed the competitiveness of products from developing countries and inhibited their entry into the lucrative markets in the North.

In the same vein, my delegation also calls for an immediate cancellation of the debt of poor countries so that debt service funds, which are crippling the development efforts of developing nations, can be used to improve the situation of those countries.
Mr. President, the Special Session on Children, which was held here in New York in May this, year, did much to bring to the fore the need to address, in a meaningful way, the rights and development needs of children, with a view to enabling them to play their respective roles in society. The United Nations should continue to articulate the needs of children and to foster the creation of a world fit for children.

Since the attainment of independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress in the provision of schools and health care facilities to improve the quality of life of its children. Regrettably, these gains were later to be reversed as the Bretton Woods institutions demanded that we de-priorities education, health and social welfare in our resource allocations. Even without the support of these institutions, we have continued, within our limited means, to place primary importance on the development of the Zimbabwean child and the welfare of the underprivileged, thereby raising the literacy rate in our society to 87%.

Mr. President, Zimbabwe and other countries in Southern Africa are grappling with the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Our own efforts at combating the scourge are not enough, and indeed they need to be augmented by the positive contribution of those countries, which have the requisite financial resources and technological know-how. We continue to call on the international community and private companies to hasten their efforts at finding an answer to this pandemic, which is ravaging our populations and economies. Affordable but effective drugs need to be made available, while support should be given to care givers of those who suffer from the disease. Special assistance should be given to the growing number of children orphaned by the pandemic. We hope that the fund set up at last year's Special Session will receive the urgent and meaningful support that it deserves.

As you are aware, Mr. President, my country, and most parts of Southern Africa, are currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis consequent upon the drought that hit the main cereal-producing season earlier this year. We commend the efforts being made by international organizations and the donor community to provide urgent food and nonfood aid to our communities. We particularly wish to mention the efforts of UN agencies in this regard. We also welcome additional assistance in program that will mitigate the effects of future droughts.

Finally, Mr. President, my delegation is happy to inform you that Zimbabwe has concluded the fast-track land redistribution program, which we introduced in July 2000 in order to transfer land to the hitherto landless black majority. It will be recalled that we had to face vehement protestations, bad publicity and misinformation from those who did not wish us well. We remained resolute in the face of powerful forces determined to preserve vestiges of colonial privilege.

The primary objective of our agrarian reforms is to redress the colonial injustice perpetrated by Britain whereby a minority of British settlers in 1890 seized our land and acquired our natural resources but never paid any compensation to our ancestors.

By assuming its Independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had discarded the colonial yoke for all time and, therefore, will never brook any interference in its domestic affairs by any foreign power. I appeal to this General Assembly to convey to Britain and especially to its current, Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, that Zimbabwe ceased to be a British colony in 1980 after Prince Charles had gracefully lowered the British, Flag, called the Union Jack. He should also please be informed that the people of Zimbabwe waged an armed revolutionary struggle for their Independence and stand ready to defend it in the same way. We want to be left in peace to carry out our just reforms and development plans as we peacefully interact and cooperate with other countries within the region, the African continent and the international community. We refuse to be an extension of Europe.

I wish the 57th Session of the General Assembly every success.

I thank you.