Zimbabwe is being punished in various ways, including the imposition of sanctions by its Western detractors, for having a huge mineral resource base, President Mnangagwa has said.
The President said this while addressing delegates at the inaugural Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners Conference organised by the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) in Gweru.
He said the current economic hardships were engineered by Western detractors keen on exploiting the over 40 different minerals in the country.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
President Mnangagwa said the West had a diplomatic fallout with China and could no longer continue mining and working with the Asian giant, hence their focus on Zimbabwe.
The United States (US) and the European Union (EU) slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions in the last two decades without United Nations (UN) approval and SADC recently urged member states to engage in various activities on October 25 to call for the immediate removal of the embargo.
President Mnangagwa said his administration would remain resilient and not allow foreigners to dictate policies.
He reiterated the Government’s 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 is the case, then our minerals will remain underground, we treasure them,” he said.
The President said the mining sector was key in Zimbabwe’s push towards achieving Vision 2030, which aims to turn the country into an upper middle income economy.
He said the country intends to transform the mining sector into a US$12 billion sector by 2023, with small-scale miners playing a pivotal role in achieving the target.
“By 2023 we want a US$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?” said the President.
Artisanal and small-scale miners were contributing 60 percent to national mineral exports, hence the need to empower them.
Said the President: “Mining contributes 13 percent of the national GDP. Small-scale miners also contribute 60 percent of our exports, but your president (Zimbabwe Miners Federation), Ms Henrietta Rushwaya, raised a number of challenges which are affecting the sector.
“She asked for chrome weighbridges, among others. They presented a book and I will study it and see how best we can assist so as to improve on production. We have started a journey, so let’s walk together until we achieve our collective vision.”
He condemned reports of corruption within the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, and challenged those with names of such corrupt officials to take 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.