I feel honoured to have been invited to pay a State Visit, my first to the Republic of Zimbabwe. My delegation and I are grateful for the wonderful reception and generous hospitality accorded to us since our arrival in this beautiful City of Harare.
Our two countries share a common history of a protracted struggle for independence. The independence of Zimbabwe was a source of renewed hope for Namibia, inspiring us that independence will materialize regardless of how lengthy the journey was. At this juncture, let me refer to the invaluable assistance provided to Namibia by the fraternal people of Zimbabwe, when in 1989, before Namibia held its first democratic elections, Zimbabwe provided two weeks of training for Namibian officials. We learned a lot during these two weeks, including how to counter any tactics that the Apartheid South African Government would deploy in order to thwart the successful hosting of our elections. We thank you Comrade President, for having released your Cabinet Ministers to assist us during those trying times. Today, we share fraternal bonds which constitute the foundation of our bilateral cooperation from which we are all benefitting.
The visit is taking place at a time when the 4th Round of Diplomatic and Political Consultaions, as well as the 8th Session of the Zimbabwe/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation have just been concluded. I was informed that our two countries have agreed, among others, to enhance cooperation by signing Memorandum of Understandings in the areas of health, sport, women empowerment and gender equality. I implore the officials of our two countries to ensure that the vigour with which agreement has been reached in various areas in the joint session which ended today, equally be applied in the exploration of new avenues of cooperation. Mostly importantly, what we have agreed upon should be implemented effectively and efficiently.
The bilateral cooperation between our two countries remains excellent. This is characterized by the export of horse mackerel to Zimbabwe, and to the 15-year Power Purchase Agreement to supply power to Namibia until 2030. I am certain that our cooperation will continue to grow in years to come.
Cooperation in the energy sector is especially important, because the realization of the SADC Industrialization Strategy depends on the ability to meet the growing energy demand. I therefore believe that cooperation in the field of energy will play a critical role in achieving these objectives of the Industrialization Strategy.
I have launched the Harambee Prosperity Plan which seeks to accelerate implementation of the Namibian Vision 2030 by focusing on poverty eradication. This plan is in line with the “New Africa” characterized by rapid development and growing integration, trade and investment opportunities. In the “New Africa”, our Governance and Macro-Economic Architectures are in place, however, we still face deficits in our Socio-Economic architecture, and therefore need to focus on issues such as food security and job creation. And here we need one another. We are aware that Zimbabwe will have a bumper harvest this year.
One cannot talk about prosperity without addressing the issue of land. Sometime ago, when referring to the land issue, I mentioned the fact that the way Zimbabwe dealt with the land issue is similar to a woman who gives birth to a child via cesarean section. The process is painful for a time, but when the wound is healed, the problem is solved and you have a child born. Namibia is taking the long and protracted route of natural birth. This means we will have to endure prolonged labour pains without the guarantee of a successful childbirth, as can be seen by the fact that our land is still not equally shared amongst our people.
During the third quarter of this year, we plan to engage in dialogue on land at our second national land conference. The emotive and complex issues surrounding land reform require a sincere but difficult conversation. Land should be one of our most productive assets. The land question should therefore not be confined to redistribution, but also take into account the need to increase agricultural productivity. As such, the underlying concerns regarding underutilization of agricultural land must be addressed. We hope to learn more from our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, regarding this aspect of the land issue.
Given our shared history and commitments towards the principles of Pan African Solidarity, Namibia commends the Government of Zimbabwe for making the proposal to construct a Statue in Honour of the late icon, Julius Nyerere, at the African Union Headquarters.
Namibia is committed to the elimination of any measure aimed at denying any people their right to self-determination. In this regard, Namibia maintains that the right to self-determination of the people of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is being denied even under the watchful eyes of the international community. The spirit that ignited Africans to rise to the task of bringing to an end colonialism from our continent was never selective because the continent had one common project: To end colonialism!
Furthermore, Zimbabwe and Namibia should maintain regular consultations on key international issues such as those pertaining to the advancement of our Continental aspirations within the AU, as well as the need for reform of the United Nations Security Council and other multilateral organizations. We cannot talk of multilateralism when most members of the global community sit on the periphery, while only a few sit at the main table.
With these words, may I now ask you all to rise and join me in proposing a toast to: His Excellency, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe; To the well-being of the Republic of Zimbabwe; The continued friendship, solidarity and cooperation between Zimbabwe and Namibia; and To international peace and security.
This is the speech that President Hage Geingob made at the State Banquet on the occasion of his maiden State Visit to the Republic of Zimbabwe.