President Emmerson Mnangagwa who recently confessed vote rigging has changed position, last night said he did not rig the August harmonised elections, but won on merit after working hard in the last five years.

He made the confession recently while addressing CEOs conference in Victoria Falls.

But speaking during a congratulatory business dinner organised by business leaders after his victory during the August harmonised general elections, Mnangagwa said he won on merit.

The President said like business leaders, the Government is in place on merit.

“I am addressing people who are aware they are there by merit, not by election. You congratulate me — we were elected — but you never interrogate whether we rigged.

“I can assure you whoever has that inkling, we did not rig. We are where we are by merit, total merit, like yourselves,” said the President.

Turning to his plans going forward, President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic will continue to roll out pro-business policies to ensure a conducive environment for increased production while also further reducing the cost of doing business.

The Head of State and Government said his administration would continue to bring sector-specific initiatives to ensure the current rise in production is sustained.

Already, policies spearheaded by the Second Republic have improved the country’s business environment, with locally manufactured goods now occupying over 85 percent of the space in supermarkets, while foreign companies continue to be attracted to Zimbabwe.

Consequently, export earnings between January and August this year grew by 6,1 percent to US$4,48 billion compared to US$4,42 billion realised during the same period last year.

President Mnangagwa said his administration was well on course to meet Zimbabweans’ aspirations of improved living conditions and development, which leaves no one and no place behind.

“My administration will continue to provide sector-specific incentives to improve production levels and capacity as well as the overall competitiveness of our local industries,” he said.

“This continues to be reflected through the Second Republic’s pro-business policies and the continuous improved ease of doing business environment.

“I am pleased to note the positive trajectory being recorded across all sectors of the economy, with growth in production and productivity, capacity utilisation as well as exports.”

President Mnangagwa commended Zimbabweans for embracing the “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo” mantra, given the appetite by many locals to participate in national development.

On that note, the President urged businesses that have not regularised their operations to do so for them to contribute to national development.

He said he has already charged relevant departments with ensuring that the regularisation process is seamless.

Efforts to streamline small and medium enterprises into the mainstream economy are underway, added President Mnangagwa.

“In addition, support for many more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to transition into the mainstream economy is being increased.

“All our small businesses must be registered and the relevant Government departments have been directed to provide comprehensive facilitation to ease the cost and simplify processes associated with registration.

“The increased participation of locals in other sectors such as agriculture, mining and tourism is applauded,” said the President.

Programmes are also underway to revamp other key economic enablers such as power supply, he said.

The Second Republic, added President Mnangagwa, will continue championing private sector-led growth to cement Zimbabwe’s sustained prosperity.

He also said the modernisation of key infrastructure such as the Beitbridge Border Post had removed bottlenecks and improved the ease of doing business in the country.

The upgrading of requisite infrastructure remains a priority for the Second Republic, said the President, while applauding the private sector for partnering Government in infrastructure projects.

“The Beitbridge Border Post remains the backbone infrastructure for traders and exporters in Zimbabwe and those on the North-South Corridor. I am happy that the modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post has removed bottlenecks that previously slowed down the movement of goods and the travelling public.

“Plans are in place to establish a One-Stop-Border Post at Beitbridge to further facilitate seamless trade. The modernisation of Chirundu, Machipanda-Forbes and Plumtree border posts, among others, will soon commence.

“Going forward, upgrading our road and railway networks remains a priority. I am pleased that work at the Mbudzi interchange is progressing well. Routine maintenance works have also commenced on the Beitbridge to Victoria Falls Road and the Harare to Chirundu Highway, pending the overhaul and modernisation of these roads which are key trade and tourism routes,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic was also working on increased power generation to complement the recently commissioned Hwange Units 7 and 8.

He said the coming online of Hwange Power Station’s Units 7 and 8 was welcome, but said the Government is presently seized with the upgrade of Hwange’s Units 1 to 6 to increase electricity availability.

“Concurrently, increased power supply is being pursued through independent power producers, in line with our green energy agenda. I therefore, urge industry players, particularly those in high energy consumption sub-sectors, to pursue complementary independent power generation,” he said.

The Head of State and Government thanked the business community for holding the congratulatory dinner for him, saying the event served as evidence that there were symbiotic relations between the Government and business.

“In this spirit of unity and oneness, I challenge us all to keep our focus on developing, modernising and industrialising our country,” he said

President Mnangagwa said the engagement and re-engagement drive was bearing fruit and having positive ripple effects and benefits for the private sector through broader market access and new investment streams.

“My Government remains determined to harness the present goodwill, from the international community, to push forward with the Debt and Arrears Clearance Programme,” he said.

While congratulating President Mnangagwa on his election victory, Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Dr Denford Mutashu said the business community was confident in his leadership going into the next five years.

“I happily congratulate you for the resounding win in the just-ended harmonised elections. I have no doubt as you have proven in your previous term through your hard work that you will deliver and take Zimbabwe to the highest level of economic development,” he said. -Herald