Farai Maguwu, the director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) a group working to improve governance of Zimbabwe’s natural resources says the country is losing billions of dollars by giving raw minerals to the outsides world while castigating the lack of policies which promote beneficiation.
Maguwu said in terms of mineral resources, what the country is getting now is residue because minerals become more valuable when they have been processed.
“Right now, zimbabwe is a donor to the world which is dishing out its riches to the world for free without many benefactions. This is why many people are angered, they see that minerals are being extracted but not much is being realized from that,” he said,
“The people who are able to smelt platinum or polish diamonds get more than 300% value than those who are mining and selling them raw. So what’s needed in Zimbabwe is to ensure that mining develops this country and make sure that whatever is mined in Zimbabwe is processed in Zimbabwe. If that happens, there’s more revenue for the country which in turn helps with the development of all sectors of the economy,” Maguwu added.
Zimbabwe’s mining sector is highly diversified, with close to 40 different minerals. The sector accounts for about 12 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The Government is targeting to generate US$12 billion from mineral exports annually by 2023, viewed also as the major stepping stone towards the attainment of upper-middle-income status by 2030.
However, over the past decade, Zimbabwe has implemented various policies in the form of export tariffs and embargoes to stimulate downstream mineral beneficiation.
The policies failed to yield tangible results due to, among other factors, inadequate due diligence regarding the capability of the country in terms of its factor endowments to support downstream beneficiation.
Maguwu said this failure has resulted in countries like South Africa, Belgium, and Israel pouncing on Zimbabwe extracting more resources which are benefitting their countries.
He warned that the government must decisively work on policies which safeguard the raw minerals, failure of which will see generations to come into enjoying the benefits of the country’s resources.
“At one point, these minerals will run dry so we should plan for the future while we still have them. We must make sure that our economy will not depend on these minerals.
We should have alternative livelihoods from the minerals, communities must divorce from dependence on minerals and start other projects that will benefit them within these mining communities,” Maguwu warned.
Through beneficiation, Maguwu added, the country would cushion itself from vulnerabilities associated with any decline in world commodity prices that can affect the current major export earners such as platinum, gold, nickel and chrome.
Commodity price crashes have in recent years left various African countries such as Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Libya, Sudan and others with massive debts.
This can happen to the Zimbabwean economy if tax revenues are affected by commodity price fluctuations on the world market.
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