Freedom Mupanedemo, Midlands Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said Zimbabwe will not succumb to pressure from external forces and foreigners craving for the country’s mineral riches and trying to cow his administration into submission so they could dictate how local minerals should be extracted.
The President who was addressing delegates attending the inaugural Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners conference hosted by the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) in Gweru said the country was under siege from its former colonisers because it was endowed with minerals.
Zimbabwe has for the past two decades been placed under illegal sanctions by the US and her allies but the Sadc bloc recently voiced its concerns on the adverse effects of the embargo and called for their immediate removal.
President Mnangagwa said the economic hardships that were being experienced were engineered by the country’s detractors bent on exploiting local resources.
“This country which is between Zambezi and Limpopo rivers is so blessed. We are rich in minerals, we have a number of minerals including rare earth minerals. Only China is the second country to have rare earth minerals. But being rich in these minerals is the reason why we are in serious trouble with our detractors,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the West had a diplomatic fall out with China and could no longer continue mining and working with the Asian giant hence they had now changed focus and are redirecting their energies to countries like Zimbabwe.
The President said his administration will, however, remain resilient and will not allow foreigners to dictate policies but reiterated its readiness to work with genuine foreign investors in the mining sector under a win-win situation.
“We have to agree on terms of operation if we are to work together because we own the resources. You can’t bring your rules and impose them on us. If that’s the case, then our minerals will remain underground, we treasure them,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the mining sector remains key in helping the country push its vision 2030 of achieving an upper middle-income economy.
He said the country also set a target of achieving a $12 billion mining economy by the year 2023 adding that small scale miners play a pivotal role in achieving the set target.
“By 2023 we want a $12 billion mining economy, but as Government, we need small scale miners to achieve this. We need to empower small scale miners, but for that to happen, give us your input, what do you want on the ground for us to achieve this vision together?” asked the President.
He said artisanal and small-scale miners were contributing 60 percent of the country’s mineral exports hence the need to empower them by reviewing some mining laws which were not in line with the intended vision of upping production.
He said he will look into the small-scale miners’ grievances and challenges presented to him at the conference.
“Mining contributes 13 percent of the national GDP. Small scale miners also contribute 60 percent of our exports but your president (Zimbabwe Federation Miners Association, Ms Henrieta Rushwaya) raised a number of challenges which are affecting the sector.
“She asked for chrome weigh bridges among others. They presented a book and I will study it and see how best we can assist to improve production.
“We have started a journey so let’s walk together until we achieve our collective vision,” said the President.
He also condemned reports of corruption within the Mines and Mining Development Ministry.
He challenged those with names of corrupt officials to bring them to his office.
‘We don’t want corruption, please give us names of those who are corrupt so that they can be investigated and sent home if found guilty,” he said.