From Innocent Gore in Maputo, Mozambique
PRESIDENT Mugabe has said Zimbabwe is encouraged that other African countries have seen through the shameless hypocrisy, blatant double standards and the desperate game of lies which seek the country’s isolation from the family of nations.
Cde Mugabe, who arrived here on Saturday for an official visit and is accompanied by Defence Minister Cde Sydney Sekeramayi and other top Government officials, was speaking at a banquet hosted for him by his Mozambican counterpart, Mr Joaquim Chissano.
He said the excellent relations enjoyed by Zimbabwe and Mozambique at various levels, particularly on the bilateral and regional levels, had been a source of consternation for those who had desired to divide the two countries because of those detractors' opposition to Zimbabwe's land reform programme.
"The leadership of my country has been demonised by their rabidly anti-Zimbabwe media while issues of democracy, human rights and good governance have been used as a façade to hide their intentions of breaking the solidarity in our ranks.
"We are delighted and grateful that your own country, with which we share a common history of struggle against imperialist oppression, has understood the real objective of those clamouring and actually plotting for regime change in Zimbabwe.
"Britain and her allies seek not just the removal of my Government from power, but also the recolonisation of Zimbabwe," he said.
"Their futile aim is to, once more, deprive the Zimbabwean people of their inalienable right to determine their own destiny by undermining our national sovereignty and independence, a prize for which many lives were lost.
"As is known, a good number of our gallant sons and daughters fell in this great country struggling for freedom and independence. The only justice we can do to these silent heroes is to remain unwavering in our defence of the cause for which they died, that of freedom and independence of our countries."
President Mugabe said since the convening of the Ninth Session of the Joint Commission of Co-operation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in October 2002, bilateral ties had been strengthened and enhanced.
Concrete action to implement the agreements reached at the session had included more regular and intense contacts between customs, immigration and security services and had contributed to a significant reduction to some of the problems that had been experienced along the two countries' common border.
He said the two countries' shared determination to facilitate and promote improved commercial exchanges was manifested in the signing of the bilateral trade agreement in January.
All the legal processes required to operationalise the agreement had been concluded and the challenge was now to encourage the countries' business communities to take up the opportunities arising from the agreement.
The integrated and holistic development of the Beira Transport Corridor continued to receive the constant attention of the officials and ministers concerned and their efforts had brightened the prospects for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the Beira Development Corridor before the end of the year, the President said.
Together with other countries in the region, Cde Mugabe said, Zimbabwe stood to benefit from the investment and other development activities likely to arise from the signing of the MOU.
Citing the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Solidarity Gala held in Chimoio at the weekend, President Mugabe said such people-to-people contacts were a powerful reflection of the historical and political ties between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
"By a happy coincidence, on this same night, multitudes of our people have converged at Chimoio for a night-long music festival involving artists from both Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Officials from our two Governments have played pivotal roles in the realisation of this event, clearly demonstrating our mutual encouragement and support for such forms of interaction among our citizens.
"It is my hope that other demonstrations of the friendship and solidarity between our countries and people will continue to take place with a deserving regularity and frequency," said President Mugabe.
In response, President Chissano expressed solidarity with the Zimbabwe Government for its actions aimed at correcting the colonial historical legacy through the land reform programme which, he said, was aimed at promoting social justice.
"We are pleased with the results that Zimbabwe has been attaining in recovering food security which was weakened by drought that affected the sub-region and by the sanctions imposed on the country.
"Our historical and cultural links and our policies of good neighbourliness constitute strong bases for our co-operation in several fields. To be short, in this regard, I would like to mention the progress made towards the demarcation of the common border. The co-operation between our two countries has also been witnessing positive developments in the area of shared international courses, an extremely delicate subject and the object of attention not only for us, but also at the level of the sub-region."
President Chissano said he was pleased with the reform of electoral laws in Zimbabwe in the spirit of the Southern Africa Development Community guidelines and principles on elections.
"We hope that these reforms will encourage the internal political actors to take a patriotic attitude in favour of the interests of the Zimbabwean people," he said.
President Chissano said Zimbabweans and Mozambicans fought bloody wars to defend one another in different phases of their histories.
"Mozambican fighters fought side-by-side with Zimbabwean fighters in the struggle against the minority and illegal regime of Ian Smith, a struggle that led to the proclamation of the independence of Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980. The independence of Zimbabwe was intensively celebrated in Mozambique for it also meant the liberation of the Mozambican people.
"Zimbabwean fighters fought side-by-side with their Mozambican comrades against external aggression which was imposed against our country from abroad."
Today, the two peoples feel that it was worthwhile to have sacrificed because, above all, they conquered and attained what is noble and precious for mankind: dignity and peace, said President Chissano.
The lifetime valorisation of these achievements, he said, required the erection of monuments and other physical, historical and cultural references in the two countries, which can serve as a permanent source of inspiration for the coming generations.
President Mugabe yesterday morning laid a wreath at the Praca dos Herois Mozambicanos (Place of Mozambican Heroes) where the remains of the country's independence heroes, such as Samora Machel and Eduardo Mondlane, lie.
After that he left for Tete province in the northern part of Mozambique where he was expected to tour Cabora Bassa Dam, accompanied by President Chissano. Zimbabwe imports part of its power needs from Cabora Bassa.
President Mugabe told journalists before his departure that he was going to see the progress made in the expansion of the hydro-electricity generation capacity at the dam.
From Tete, President Mugabe is today expected to tour Inhambane province in central Mozambique.
Answering questions from Mozambican journalists who wanted to be apprised of the situation in the country, the President said Zimbabwe was politically stable and was going through an economic turnaround.
The country was looking forward to a good rainy season, having reaped a good harvest in the past season, he said.
He also told the Mozambican journalists that the ruling Zanu-PF party was going to hold its congress in December and that there would be parliamentary elections in March next year.
The President, however, expressed concern at the HIV/Aids scourge, saying it was wiping out the young and economically active age-groups. He said the Government was doing its best to assist those affected through the provision of anti-retroviral drugs. http://www.zimbabweherald.com/index.php?id=36693&pubdate=2004-10-11