Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
PRESIDENT Mugabe says the incoming Zanu-PF Government will increase salaries of civil servants and improve their conditions of service by year end. The President revealed this at the National Heroes Acre yesterday while addressing thousands of people who gathered for National Heroes Day commemorations.
Civil servants have been reeling under sanctions induced hardships that constrained Government’s capacity to adequately remunerate them, a situation compounded by the indifference of ministers drawn from the MDC formations who oversaw public service portfolios during the inclusive Government.
“Government is concerned about the welfare of members of the Public Service and will continue to implement strategies aimed at improving their conditions of service,” President Mugabe said.
“We have promised to address the issue of salaries and conditions of living. We pledge to fulfil this promise this year.”
The President said despite budgetary constraints, Government managed to increase the basic salary and allowances of public servants by 5,3 percent from January this year while other incentives were also introduced.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said Government was committed to improving the pensions and general welfare of war veterans, ex-detainees and heroes’ dependants.
“In this regard, the National Heroes Dependants Assistance Fund which was established to provide monthly allowances for both surviving spouses and minor children under the age of 18 will receive support from Government’s empowerment schemes.
“Given the extreme difficulties caused by the West’s illegal sanctions regime, Government recently decided to extend debt relief in terms of the law to all Rural and Urban Council dwellers in respect of certain debts owed by residents from February 2009 to the end of June 2013,” said President Mugabe.
He said the country’s projected agricultural productivity was expected to decrease as a result of the erratic rainfall received in some provinces.
“Economic performance is being threatened by the erratic rainfall patterns due to climate change which has impacted negatively on our agricultural sector which contributes about 17 percent of our Gross Domestic Product.
“The 2012/2013 agricultural season was characterised by poor rains particularly in Matabeleland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East provinces, which resulted in some of the crops being written off.
“Maize production is now projected to decline by 17 percent from the initial projection of 964 000 tonnes to 800 000 tonnes. These developments threaten our food security and overall economic performance. For now, Government is importing maize from Zambia in order to fight hunger among our people,” said President Mugabe.
He said as a result, Government would continue to implement mitigatory measures aimed at strengthening the agricultural sector, boosting agricultural production and increasing productivity in order to ensure food and nutrition security.
President Mugabe said the mining sector maintained its pole position as the country’s fastest growing and leading currency earner after accounting for more than 50 percent of the total exports in 2012.
Government, he said, was in the process of reviving the Mining Promotion Corporation, an exploration company under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
The arm, he said, would spearhead exploration throughout the country and build an inventory of mining projects.
President Mugabe bemoaned the decline of the manufacturing sector as a result of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West.
He said Government would prioritise promoting the country’s exports and increasing market share by focusing on areas where Zimbabwe had comparative advantage.
Through vigorous promotion of adding value to the country’s primary resources, the manufacturing sector was expected to increase its exports earnings from the 16 percent to 50 percent by 2016, he said.
President Mugabe said recognition of the country’s education prowess was a result of Government’s committed investment in education since independence.
In pursuance of ensuring that every province has a state university, President Mugabe said, Government was establishing three more universities which are Gwanda State University in Matabeleland South scheduled to enrol its first students this month, Manicaland University of Applied Science and Technology and Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology in Mashonaland East province.
President Mugabe said Government continued to prioritise resuscitation of the health sector through various programmes.
He said various strategies were being implemented to address issues of HIV and Aids in terms of access to treatment and prevention of new infections.
“In the sphere of infrastructural development, the critical sectors of power, water, roads, rail and telecommunications will continue to receive due attention.
“Government recently embarked on the Roads Authority Recapitalisation Programme whose objective is to provide road authorities with road construction and maintenance equipment,” he said.
He said the empowerment agenda through the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act remained central to Government’s priorities while youth and women empowerment was core in Government’s priorities in its pursuit of socio-economic transformation.
President Mugabe said as a sign of confidence in the African continent, Zimbabwe and Zambia would co-host the 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Victoria Falls and Livingstone.
He said preparations for the event were now complete.
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