Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE could generate 50 percent more earnings from mineral sales had it not been for the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the US and Western its allies.
Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) general manager, Mr Tongai Muzenda said this in an interview as he lamented the debilitating impact of the embargo on the mining sector.
Zimbabwe was slapped with economic sanctions by the European Union and the United States after embarking on a successful Land Reform programme in 2000. The land reform programme has benefited thousands of previously landless Zimbabweans.
The US has maintained its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), which has kept the country on high-risk profile to investors thereby closing avenues for fresh lines of credit and smooth trade. Mr Muzenda said MMCZ in particular, has suffered “extremely” in terms of marketing the country’s minerals around the world.
“We are feeling the impact of sanctions big time, the embargo is making it extremely difficult for us as the country’s mineral marketing arm in the sense that anything in terms of trade that we want to do using major currencies like the United States dollars, we are constrained,” he said.
“There is a United States-based organisation called OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) of the United States department of treasury, it intercepts the mineral sales proceeds, so we have to work within the means and confines of the Zimbabwean laws to sell our minerals. Had it not been for the sanctions, we could be selling 50 percent more than what we are doing now,” he said.
Zimbabwe earned close to US$2 billion from mineral exports in the first nine months of this year, which is 24 percent above the set target.
The Government last year launched a strategic road map to achieve a US$12 billion mining economy by 2023. The MMCZ as the mineral marketing authority, is expected to play a pivotal role to ensure the target is met.
The authority is 100 percent owned by the Government and falls under the purview of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. Mr Muzenda said because MMCZ is a strategic entity for Zimbabwe’s mineral marketing, restrictive measures imposed on the country were severely affecting its operations.
“The EU has theoretically lifted sanctions against us (MMCZ) but we still remain constrained in selling and marketing our minerals.
“For example, if a company in the UK (United Kingdom) wants to buy certain minerals from us but that buyer has a relationship with any other American company or institution, that relationship is the one causing us to have problems, the money is intercepted.
“The sanctions must be removed totally to allow Zimbabwe to trade freely with the international community,” he said.
The MMCZ boss commended Government for its re-engagement efforts saying this was a step in the right direction.
“Personally, I am actually happy with the Second Republic, especially the President himself because he has made a clarion call at different forums advocating for the removal of these sanctions. It is also encouraging that Sadc Heads of State and Government understand our plight as a country,” he said.
The punitive measures against Zimbabwe have also been condemned by the African Union. — @okazunga.