President Mugabe turned 88 on February 21, and is among the oldest Heads of State and Government in the world today.
The President, clad in a black designer suit, made the remarks after Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, had told guests attending the launch of the Trade and Investment Policy Document (2012-2016) in Harare that he was “shocked to see the companies that I have visited to have and use equipment that was bought in 1923”.
“I was shocked to discover that some of our equipment at some companies was bought in 1924,” Prime Minister Tsvangirai said.
When President Mugabe stood up as Guest of Honour at the event, he said: “I think the Honourable Prime Minister could have been referring to me when he said the equipment in some companies that he visited was bought in 1923. I was in fact born in 1924 but I am not too old ladies and gentlemen.I am as fit as a fiddle.”
“Vanorova imbwa akaviga mupini(The PM was secretively aiming to take on me), I know this man very well,”he added to the laughter of ministers, senior government officials and guests at the Rainbow Towers.
Tsvangirai has never hidden his opinion that Mugabe,88, must be allowed to retire peacefully and let the country move forward. Mugabe and Tsvangirai once strong rivals joined hands to form a coalition government in 2009 after violent and disputed polls in 2008. The two are likely to square up again in elections pencilled after a referendum to adopt a new constitution.
President Mugabe then went on to launch the Trade and Industrial Policy Document bringing to an end the out-dated one that launched in 2004 and was supposed to run until 2010. The new one will run until 2016.
“I sincerely hope that this Trade and Investment Policy Document, which has taken a rather long time to produce, does not become just a bookish document for university education,” said Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) President, Dr Joseph Kanyekanye, in an exclusive interview after the event.
Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who attended the launch, said: “Zimbabwe has a culture of producing quality papers that are never implemented. I hope this is not the case here with this policy document.”
The Industrial Development Policy (2012-2016) provides the guidelines for a new impetus for industrialisation in Zimbabwe.
“It is meant to transform Zimbabwe from a producer of primary goods into a producer of processed value-added goods for both the domestic and export market,” President Mugabe said in Harare.
“It is meant to create a vibrant self-sustaining and competitive economy through promotion of viable industrial and commercial sectors as well as domestic and international trade.”
The document is intended to help increase exports and promote the diversification of Zimbabwe’s export basket by harnessing comparative advantage in key priority sectors with the ultimate target of increasing export earnings by at least 10 percent annually from US$4,3 billion in 2011 to US$7 billion in 2016.
President Mugabe said it was also meant to promote enhanced value-addition of primary commodities in all sectors of the economy thereby restoring the manufacturing sector’s contribution to export earnings from the current 16 percent to 50 percent by 2016.
The Managing Director of the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe Limited (IDC), Mike Ndudzo, in an exclusive interview after the event said: “We have many investment policies and make many trips abroad, but as long as we owe people money they will not listen to us.
We have too many companies and too many countries which we owe money and they want it back before we can be taken seriously as Zimbabweans.”
The Minister of Industry and Commerce, professor Welshman Ncube, said he was happy the policies were now out for investors to use.
“We had an old policy brought up in 2008 to run until 2010 and this was a disaster,” he said.
“There was no financial clout and the crippling sanctions brought us to our knees.