COMMENT: President’s hands-on approach to business refreshing President Mnangagwa

President Mnangagwa starts his two-day working visit to Matabeleland North Province tomorrow, a tour that will enable him to conduct an on-the-ground assessment of key projects there.

It was rare for a president in our country to conduct such a long tour to an area when there is no conference, summit, national exhibition or outside political campaigns ahead of a general election.

However, the President, who, since he came to office in November 2017, is emphasising a business attitude to the running of Government affairs and has a hands-on approach, will be in that province tomorrow and on Friday.

Through the visit, he will be able to get a more accurate view of how Government and private sector projects are progressing instead of relying on briefings from officials and the provincial affairs minister. We all know that an eyewitness view is often more reliable than having second or third parties apprising someone of an event or process. By witnessing the progress or otherwise of projects, the President will be in a better position to lead in formulating Government policy, decision-making and execution from an informed standpoint.

Also, through the visit, he is breaking the sometimes unnecessarily long chain of command. While he will see for himself, investors or other stakeholders will be able to engage him directly, advising him not only on the progress that is taking place, but also on any challenges they could be facing, frustrating progress. It is possible that through this direct communication, some important decisions can be made on the spot or in some other faster way than when the communication was indirect through the provincial affairs minister or bureaucrats in the province.

We have seen the President using this approach through the meetings he has had with the Matabeleland Collective, chiefs and other stakeholders in the region towards addressing the Gukurahundi issue. He has had two or so meetings with these groups in Bulawayo, listening to the concerned people’s concerns, challenges and aspirations to come up with solutions.

That approach does a lot to demystify the office of the national President, brings him closer to his people, makes him one of them, enables him to understand issues that concern his people more accurately, expedites decision-making and pushes officials to do their work more diligently in the knowledge that the President is on their back.

Matabeleland North has much economic potential. It is the centre of the national tourism industry. That is where Victoria Falls is, the country’s best tourism product. We cannot talk about tourism in the country without mentioning that enormous natural waterfall; we cannot talk about tourism in southern Africa without mentioning Victoria Falls. In the same vein, Matabeleland North is where the country’s biggest wildlife reserve, Hwange National Park, is.

Apart from tourism, Matabeleland North is the centre of the country’s coal mining industry. That is why tomorrow and on Friday, the President will largely be visiting collieries in the province. He will officially open South Mining New Coking Project, visit Zimbabwe ZhongXin Coking Company (ZZCC), Afrochine’s associate Dinson Colliery, Jinan Coking Coal Project, South Mining Coking Coal Project Hwange Colliery’s Chaba Mine.

He will also tour Zambezi Coal and Gas Mine and Makomo Resources. He will wrap up his visit by touring the US$10 million 300MW coal-fired Zimbabwe ZhongXin Electric Energy (ZZEE) power plant where a signing ceremony will be conducted. On completion, the power station on the outskirts of Hwange Town, will contribute 300MW to the national grid with the first phase to generate 50MW from October.

Indeed, his visit will showcase the country’s impressive investments into coal mining and processing. We can count about six investments that are ongoing in Hwange area, all concentrating on coal. This demonstrates a huge amount of potential in coal mining and beneficiation in the district. It is a blessing that there is so much potential and good that so many companies are investing in the mineral. All these investments mean jobs for our people, better livelihoods for them and development of the community. Therefore, it is not just the towers, the cranes, the conveyor belts and other immense capital equipment that are coming into coal.

President Mnangagwa’s visit is an endorsement of all the investments in coal mining and processing in Hwange and a call for more investment to be channelled into the natural resource for there is still more of it to be extracted and beneficiated for the benefit of the local community and the nation at large.

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