PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has called for mutual respect among nations, genuine multilateralism buttressed by the much-needed reforms in the United Nations (UN) to achieve a peaceful and stable world.

The President called for the unconditional removal of illegal sanctions that were unilaterally imposed on the country by the United States and some Western nations in the European Union (EU).

In his address at the high-level general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last night, the President said Zimbabwe was committed to building a better world, but nations needed to respect each other’s sovereignty and equality.

He said the illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country must be removed as they were stifling the country’s economic growth.

“There is no better way of achieving a peaceful and stable world than through mutual respect, genuine multilateralism buttressed by much needed reforms and respect for international law.

“Recommitting ourselves to these ideals will pave the way for the just world that we all yearn for.”

President Mnangagwa raised concern at the lack of reform of the Security Council, which has hitherto excluded the voice of Africa and Africans. “It is now more than 15 years since the adoption of the Ezulwini Consensus, reaffirmed in the Sirte Declaration.

“It is deeply regrettable that reform of the Security Council and implementation of Africa’s position has not been achieved. We cannot continue with a situation where over 16 percent of the world’s population does not have a voice in decision making.

“This is a serious indictment to our avowed commitment to multilateralism and the basic principles of natural justice, fairness and equity.”

The President said although the UN continues to make gratifying qualitative difference in the lives of many people, the sad part for this year’s 75th jubilee is that it has been marred by the Covid-19 pandemic that forced the annual conference to be held virtually.

The theme of the 75th session is “The Future We Want; the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.

“Today humanity is at crossroads as we are confronted by complex challenges that do not respect any borders. Multilateralism is under increasing threat from the blind pursuit of narrow interests. We must therefore strengthen international amity and goodwill as well as uphold mutual respect and observe the sovereign equality of States,” President Mnangagwa said.

The President told the assembly that Zimbabwe is now on a new path towards achieving sustainable development but like all nations, the country has not been spared by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the devastating effects of unjustified illegal sanctions imposed by some Western nations.

“Zimbabwe is on a new path. Like other nations in the region, we are facing humanitarian challenges which in our case have been worsened by illegal sanctions, the negative impact of climate change, and compounded by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

The President added that the illegal economic sanctions pose a threat to the country achieving sustainable development.

“Recently, the UN Secretary General; the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, all acknowledged the deleterious effects of the illegal economic sanctions on our country.

“These are a breach of international law and compromise Zimbabwe’s capacity to implement and achieve Sustainable Development, especially SDGs 2, 3, 8, 9 and 17. We, therefore, call on the General Assembly to strongly pronounce itself against these unilateral illegal sanctions,” said the President.

Despite the challenges that the country is facing the President said his administration continued to record notable achievements towards sustainable development that would ensure no one is left behind.

“Our macroeconomic stabilisation reforms have seen the reduction of the budget deficit to a single digit, as well as a positive balance of our current account, coupled with foreign exchange rate and price stability.

“Major infrastructure projects are ongoing, such as the rehabilitation and construction of health services facilities, water and sanitation infrastructure as well as roads, dams and bridges across the country. Investments in mining, agriculture, tourism, energy and manufacturing are on the increase,” said the President.

The Second Republic, under the visionary leadership of President Mnangagwa has transformed Zimbabwe in a little space of time with projections pointing to the attainment of the President’s vision of becoming an upper middle income country by 2030.

The President told UNGA that the implementation of the second phase of Ease of Doing Business Reforms will help to improve the country’s World Bank ranking.

Apart from implementing economic measures towards sustainable development, the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa has also implemented political reforms and entrenched constitutionalism.

“My administration is decisive in entrenching constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law, including the protection of property rights.

“The commitment of my Government to these cardinal principles remains unwavering. It is in this spirit and in line with our Constitution that in July this year, my Government concluded the landmark Global Compensation Deed (GCD), with former white farm owners.

“We count on the support and goodwill of the international community as we mobilise resources to implement the agreement,” he said.

The GCD will see the Government of Zimbabwe, working with the white former farmers, mobilising resources towards paying for improvements made on the farms in accordance with the country’s Constitution.

Further, the President said the alignment of the country’s laws to the Constitution is nearing completion, with various pieces of legislation being enacted to strengthen institutions.

“The raft of political reforms will benefit the generality of Zimbabweans as we consolidate our respect of human rights.

“My administration places great importance on fostering national unity and cohesion. The culture of dialogue across all sectors is taking root, with activities and programmes under the auspices of our home-grown Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), gaining momentum,” he said.

Turning to the Covid-19 scourge, the President said Zimbabwe would continue to implement measures to curb the spread of the global pandemic, that include phased lockdowns as well as providing a US$720 million economic stimulus package.

“Zimbabwe welcomes calls by the UN Secretary General and the Director of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, for the Covid-19 vaccine to be treated as a global public good with guaranteed fair distribution and mechanisms to ensure equal access.

“We are encouraged by the ongoing cooperation between the UN Secretary General, the G20 and the Bretton Woods institutions towards finding solutions to developing countries’ debt and related issues.

“While the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have supported a debt standstill up to the end of the year, more needs to be done”.

The President told the global family of nations annual indaba that Zimbabwe is committed to “strengthening public health systems, towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to achieve that, international solidarity and partnerships are critical”.

The President said as the world on October 1 celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women, Zimbabwe has “taken major steps in implementing the Beijing Declaration”.

The measures that Zimbabwe has taken towards implementing the Beijing Declaration, include the adoption of a gender responsive Constitution, establishment of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and also the enactment of several pieces of legislation to outlaw all practices that infringe on the rights of women and girls, such as forced and child marriages and discrimination against women inheritance matters, the President said.

Apart from that the President also stressed the importance of peace and security so as to achieve sustainable development.

“Peace, security and stability are a pre-requisite for sustainable development. This can only be achieved in an inclusive process characterised by equally shared commitment and responsibilities. We count on the international community to strengthen its support for AU-led peace efforts.

“We also look forward to greater collaboration between the AU and the UN in maintaining sustainable international peace and security in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, more particularly in ensuring the effective implementation of the AU’s campaign on ‘Silencing the Guns’.

“Self-determination and independence are intrinsic and fundamental rights that should be enjoyed by all without distinction. We call on the Security Council to increase its efforts towards ending the occupation of Western Sahara.

“Zimbabwe also calls upon the Secretary General to appoint his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara without further delay.”

The 75th session of the UN General Assembly opened on September 15, with the high-level General Debate taking place from September 22 and is scheduled to end tomorrow. The General Assembly meeting will come to a close on the 29 with the marking of the 75th anniversary of the world body’s existence.

Established in 1945, the UN has been marking its 75th anniversary with the world body’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for an extended “people’s debate” which “promises to be the largest and farthest-reaching global conversation ever on building the future we want”.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Hage Geingob of Namibia and Chinese President Xi Jinping are some of the leaders that have so far spoken at the high-level General Debate.

Lauding the 75-year journey of the UN, Chinese President Xi on Tuesday said Beijing will not allow any country to control the destiny of others and act like a “boss of the world”.

“Even less should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully or boss of the world,” President Xi said.