Nduduzo Tshuma and Prosper Ndlovu in Hwange
GOVERNMENT has engaged China to facilitate the return of experts and engineers stuck in that country since the outbreak of Covid-19 to ensure speedy completion of capital projects being implemented in the country, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Speaking on the second day of his tour of coal projects here, President Mnangagwa said big projects like the Hwange Power Station Unit 7 and 8 expansion and the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, which had been stalled by the pandemic, will get required expertise to carry on.
He said most engineers had returned to China in January for their country’s New Year holiday and failed to return after countries imposed lockdowns and grounded flights to prevent the transmission and spread of the pandemic.
The President said the facility will see the experts being flown in a dedicated flight and quarantined at the respective projects that they are attached to so that they continue with work afterwards.
“A few days ago, I had discussions with the Chinese Ambassador and we came to an understanding where we can now airlift most of the experts who are detained in China as a result of the pandemic to come to Zimbabwe to the various companies to which they are attached and then they will go through their quarantine at the respective companies,” said President Mnangagwa.
“We believe that Hwange Unit 7 and 8 again will have the level of expertise and competencies it requires made available.”
President Mnangagwa kicked off his tour at Dinson Colliery before moving to ZZCC and Zambezi Gas and Makomo Resources.
He concluded his tour by visiting ZZEE where he witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the company and Zimbabwe Mining Development Cooperation.
“The future is brighter than the past because the Government is giving focus on the mining sector. We have given ourselves goals to achieve in the mining sector. We have agreed that we need to move from US$2 billion to US$12 billion in the sector in the next three years,” said President Mnangagwa.
“We are satisfied that we can achieve that goal and possibly exceed what we have set ourselves.”
President Mnangagwa said he was happy that indigenous owned mines like Makomo Resources and Zambezi Coal and Gas were doing well.
He said Makomo Resources in particular resources would play a key role in providing input into Unit 7 and 8 as a top supplier to the power station. The President called in the two indigenously owned mines to stop quarrelling over the use of a road that passes through Makomo Resources, giving them up to the end of the month to find a common understating, failure to which the Government would intervene.
“Be assured from me that as long as you remain focused and patriotic to your country, you have my Government’s support. All what you need now is a roadmap for expansion and to do so yes, you will need private capital to assist you but you also need us in the public sector in your programmes in order to support you in your set goals,” said the President.
President Mnangagwa reiterated that the mining and agricultural sectors were critical in achievement of Vision 2030 as the country has competitive advantage in these segments
“Those of our people in mining and agriculture be aware that we as Government are looking on you, are depending on you in particular to achieve our goal. In general, all other sub sectors of the economy must contribute towards that achievement but because with regard to mining everything is here, agriculture, the agricultural land is at our disposal and we have sovereign ownership of land and resources and it is us who determine how we exploit that resource,” he said.
Despite persistent drought conditions, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe has an excess of 10 000 water bodies to sustain a vibrant irrigation model but expressed dismay that only 25 percent are being used.
He revealed that there is a massive irrigation programme on the cards to ensure full utilisation of the water bodies and that in the next two to three seasons the country would no longer experience food insecurity.
President Mnangagwa said countries like Spain and Belarus were supporting Zimbabwe in agriculture mechanisation and that going forward the country must have no excuse for food shortages. For the
Government to achieve food security it needs to assist farmers towards smart agriculture, he added.
“We must begin to move forward on the basis of the things that are under our control, the pace and the speed is determined by ourselves . . . We can force production of coal because its ours, we can force the production of food because the land is ours,” said the President.
To achieve this, President Mnangagwa stressed the need for the country to be united and remain peaceful.
“Let us all feel we are wanted and important and we have commitment to the development of our country. Let us all be patriotic to the development of our country because no one will come from elsewhere to develop it,” he said.
The President also took time to address Zanu-PF supporters who had gathered at Dinson Colliery and ZZEE telling them that the investors would also work towards the uplifting of communities.
He said he visited China in 2018 and his counterpart Xi Xinping invited companies interested in working in Zimbabwe.
“They will also build you schools, roads, clinics and also provide clean water to uplift the communities on top of employing the local youths,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa donated 2000 tonnes of coke peas he was given by Makomo Resources to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.
He also directed Matabeleland North Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo to distribute one million bricks, also given to him by Makomo Resources, to the local community in consultation with chiefs and councils for developmental projects.
The President was accompanied by Ministers of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando, Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube, Environment Climate Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Ndlovu, Industry and Commerce Dr Sekai Nzenza and Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni.
On Thursday, the President toured Western Coal and Energy Company, the new South Mining Coke Plant, Jinan/Tutu Coke Project and Hwange Colliery Company’s Chaba Mine.