Tererai Danga Post Correspondent—
PRESIDENT Mugabe reiterated his vision and policy that the country and the entire African continent should continue with efforts towards industrialisation and beneficiation of natural resources for economic growth and development.The President made the remarks while addressing a Joint Sitting of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament on his State of the Nation Address in Harare on Tuesday. President Mugabe praised the country for successfully chairing the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
He indicated that he used his chairmanship of both organs to push for the operationalisation of the beneficiation and industrialisation policy. The AU Heads of State and Government adopted the industrialisation policy through Agenda 2063 at the organization’s 50th anniversary celebrations held in Ethiopia in 2013.
Agenda 2063 is a strategy to optimise use of Africa’s resources for the benefit and development of all Africans. President Mugabe reiterated that the country and the continent’s hopes for development lay in the beneficiation of the vast mineral resources that are found in abundance.
The industrialisation and beneficiation thrusts are rooted in Zanu-PF manifesto for the 2013 harmonised elections where the party emphasised the use of local resources for the country’s development needs. This thrust followed the political grandstanding that was adopted by various western governments and multilateral financial institutions to deny Zimbabwe funding on political grounds.
The beneficiation thrust was adopted in the Zanu-PF manifesto against the background that the country was losing potential revenue through the export of unprocessed minerals and other raw products. This export of raw materials also had the net effect of externalising jobs to other countries. Efforts are now being made to develop local capacity to add value to raw materials before export.
In the mining sector, platinum miners have agreed to construct a refinery in Ngezi at an expected cost of $600m. Platinum is currently exported to South Africa for processing. In the process, Zimbabwe loses several other Platinum Group Metals (PGM) by-products from the processing of platinum.
Efforts are being made to establish a diamond cutting and polishing centre in the country. Several students are currently in China studying the diamond polishing and cutting trade. This is expected to improve the country’s benefit from its finite diamond resources.
The beneficiation and industrialisation policy benefits the country through skills transfer to locals. It also leads to employment creation, infrastructure development, revenue generation and general development of the national economy.
President Mugabe called upon citizens to play their part in economic development through small and medium enterprises. He reiterated Government’s commitment to providing an enabling environment through proper infrastructure, training, funding and market linkages.
He indicated that Government had approved the establishment of a Micro-Finance Bank under the Small Enterprises Development Corporation (SEDCO). The bank will be availed $10m seed capital.
The President’s address focused on other various initiatives being pursued by Government to revitalise the industrial and farming sectors. He highlighted the Command Agriculture and Presidential Inputs Support Programmes, the establishment of a Women’s Micro-Finance Bank and the growth in mining sector receipts to $981.4m by June 2016.