THIS week, the government expressed confidence that it is on track to meet the US$12-billion mining sector economy target announced about two years ago.
The announcements by both Mines and Mining Development minister, Winston Chitando and his deputy, Polite Kambamura gives confidence that recovery for the industry is in sight and investors are likely to benefit from their investments soon.
The mining industry is important to Zimbabwe. And if there are signs of recovery in the sector the rest of the economy is also set to recover. It is also important to note that the government has taken a keen interest in ensuring that mining sector deals benefit not only the investors but Zimbabweans through such projects as community share ownership schemes and the construction of vital infrastructure.
Small businesses are set to benefit from opportunities to supply the industry’s requirements.
The benefits of such strategies can be immense and these can be seen in investments like Mimosa, Unki and Zimplats that have twinned their projects with community interventions.
While it was the same strategy previously where companies were encouraged to work with communities, this partnership had not been taken seriously. The result was the disastrous displacement of villagers in places like the Chiadzwa diamond fields and other mining belts to make way for big corporations. Recently, there has been an outcry over the aggressive manner in which Chinese investors are angling to displace villagers — another example of how investments can go wrong.
Communities have not benefited from these mining investments.
In the pursuit of rebuilding the sector, greater levels of transparency about how communities will benefit from their resources must be carried out. These must be followed through with audits that check out if promised projects were carried out, and what must be done next to change the lives of Zimbabweans as more and more of their resources are extracted, presumably for their benefit.
This is why discussions taking place with investors like Karo Resources, the big investors that have promised to inject US$4,2 billion into Zimbabwe and Invictus Energy, are vital.
Both discussions revolve around how the government and the companies will have win-win agreements in sharing proceeds of sales from oil or gas and platinum. But previously, such deals ended up being taken over by the elite with strong connections to government.
Instead of spreading the benefits across the entire nation, the “Zimbabweans” often said to have benefited are the bigwigs.
This has led to frustrations, where youths have rebelled and started hacking people with machetes in gold fields.
In addition, smuggling of minerals has increased and Zimbabwe is said to be losing up to US$1,5 billion a year to smuggling.
In an interview hosted by the Zimbabwe Independent aired on Heart & Soul Television, Chitando said many projects were coming into fruition. For instance, Mimosa Mining Company is in the process of expanding and in 2023, Great Dyke Investments and Karo Resources will start production. This is all very promising but transparency is key.