[RC's Statement] on the Presentation of 2012 Zimbabwe Millennium Development Goals Progress Report

It is with great pleasure that I speak here today at the presentation of the 2012 Zimbabwe MDG Progress Report. The production of the Report was led by the Government with the support of the United Nations and development partners. The MDG Progress Report represents one of the most valuable instruments for obtaining evidence from the ground, extracting lessons learnt, and maintaining momentum.

The 2012 Zimbabwe MDG Progress Report provides us with the current state of the MDGs in Zimbabwe, including current data, trends, challenges and opportunities. It also identifies and highlights those frameworks and policies that create a conducive environment for achieving the MDGs.

I seize this opportunity to commend the Government of Zimbabwe for tracking and monitoring MDG progress on a regular basis, as evidenced by the three previous national MDG reports in 2004, 2007 and 2010.

We are pleased to note from the 2012 MDG progress report that notable development results have been achieved in the areas of attaining universal primary education, halting and reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS, as well as in attaining gender parity in primary and secondary school enrolment.

As an example, we take note that the Government has enacted strong policies and programs to tackle the challenge of MDG6, with focus on HIV and AIDS. In partnership with the UN and development partners notable results have been achieved. The infection rate among adults aged 15-49 dropped from a high of 23.6% in 2001 to 15% in 2010–2011. In addition, in treating and preventing new HIV infections, we have witnessed a reduction in mother to child transmission from 22% to 18% in 2012.

We also welcome efforts to address gender equality and women’s empowerment through deliberate measures and policies, including gender-sensitive budgeting; legislative reforms; and increasing gender awareness that focuses both on women rights and women’s economic empowerment.

At the same time, it must also be noted from the Report that many challenges do remain in key development areas. One of the major challenges in Zimbabwe is the high maternal mortality rate, which stands at 960 per 100,000 live births – 92% higher than the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Other critical challenges remain in the areas of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, creating employment, and eliminating gender based violence.

These challenges are not insurmountable.In order to successfully address them, there is a need to continue strengthening the national policy environment.  There is also a need for the development of well-defined national programs which respond to specifics bottlenecks that are hampering the achievement of national development objectives and some of the MDGs.

Along these lines, it is worth noting that the 2011-2015 Medium Term Plan provides a good macro-economic and development framework upon which program solutions can be developed and implemented.

Zimbabwe’s new Constitution will undoubtedly provide for a further enhancement of the overall context and will significantly contribute to advancement of the country’s development efforts. I seize this opportunity, on behalf of the UN Country Team to commend the Government and People of Zimbabwe on the development and the adoption of a new Constitution.

Moreover, we would like to commend recent national efforts at devising sound sector policies and encourage further efforts in deepening these policies.  A national coordinating mechanism that would bring all these together in a cohesive manner would also go along away in ensuring the effectiveness of the national development plans.

In going forward therefore, critical and well aligned programs need to be implemented to specifically target and remove the bottlenecks which impede the country’s progress. This is especially necessary in a context of limited resources.

Along these lines, we are pleased that today’s event also includes the presentation of the national Accelerated Action Plan on MDG 2. This MDG2 Acceleration Action Plan is not a new program. It is an instrument which identifies the relevant bottlenecks in order to efficiently utilize existing resources to better achieve results.

This is the first Accelerated Action Plan to be produced in Zimbabwe.  The choice of education was both timely and deliberate. While Zimbabwe has traditionally performed well on the other targets under MDG 2, progress has been less pronounced with the target on primary education completion rates. This rate which had reached a low of 68.2% in 2006 has now reached 82.4% in 2009. The purpose of this national Accelerated Action Plan for MDG 2 is to assist Zimbabwe to achieve the target of 100 percent primary school education completion rates by 2015.

As you are all aware, we are indeed slowly approaching the year 2015. There are now numerous on-going consultations to deliberate on the post-2015 development agenda at various levels and across the world. In fact, there is a very interactive website “the world we want”, where all of you can go and have an opportunity to participate and contribute to the ongoing debate. 

For the UN, the overall objective is to help Member States arrive at a unified set of concise, clear and measurable development goals that keep poverty reduction at the core and, at the same time, recognize and address broader and ambitious sustainable development challenges.

Last month we held an important MDG Dialogue here in Harare to mark 1000 days left to achieve the MDGs. During this event we gathered some ideas and perspectives on what should come after 2015.

The presentation today of the 2012 MDG report and the Accelerated Action Plan should inspire all of us. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the current momentum be inclusive and equitable to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs. On behalf of the UN Country Team, I want to reiterate our commitment to support the Government and People of Zimbabwe in meeting their development aspirations.

I thank you and look forward to the presentation of the report.