We won’t accept raw deal on minerals – President The directive will be implementing last week’s agreement between President Mnangagwa and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi to open up borders between the two neighbours for their citizens to travel with just identity documents.

Darlington Musarurwa in GABORONE, Botswana

ZIMBABWE will not accept exploitative deals in the mining sector, but will only agree to investments that give it the “maximum benefit” from its non-renewable resources.

This was said by President Mnangagwa as part of his contributions to a presidential panel discussion at the Kusi Ideas Festival here yesterday, which was co-hosted by Kenya’s Nation Media Group and the Government of Botswana.

The annual event, which began in 2019, was created to share ideas that could help Africa become a global powerhouse in the 21st century.

Although there are many suitors particularly interested in the lithium sector, the President said Zimbabwe would only agree in circumstances where the country gets the best deal for the people of Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe has a unique history in our region. For some reason, I don’t know why the people in the (Global) North want it so much. We went through a 15-16-year war of liberation to attain independence in Zimbabwe. We have a robust mining sector. The issue may be what don’t we have, because if you say what do we have . . . the list does not end,” said President Mnangagwa.

“It is necessary that we develop our mining sector, but in the process of developing our mining sector, the maximum benefit should come to Zimbabwe, not those who are developing it, because to develop our mining sector, we need global capital, global skills and global technology, but these three put together should not lead to them benefiting more than us.

“We are happy if we don’t strike a balance where we get maximum benefit to allow our minerals to remain where they are until we have a structure where, as we extract the minerals, we get better value for the mineral than the global skills or technology assisting us to exploit our minerals.”

Zimbabwe is prepared to hold out to get the best deals in the lithium sector than be forced into agreements that disproportionately benefit investors.

“Yes, we have a huge mining sector. Initially, we had our coal, our gold, our platinum, but currently, the more exciting one is now the lithium  . . . Look, I am a villager, I don’t know, but I want to say what those who went to school say about what we have. They say we have substantial deposits of lithium in Zimbabwe, which perhaps places us very high on the continent in terms of the quantified lithium deposits in our country,” the President said.

“Now with that, there are so many global interests who would want to come and exploit this mineral. Our view is that it has been there for ages; it can continue to be there as long as we have not struck a balance as to how we are going to benefit . . .”

Agriculture, he added, was one of the two sectors that are driving the country’s economic development.

“I think we are among those who have a developed agricultural base. We have vast arable lands in Zimbabwe and we are food secure, primarily. And we have introduced a model of agriculture in our country that addresses food security at the household level, first, before we look at the national food security level,” President Mnangagwa said.

“All along we have been having to import our wheat, but now we are exporting our wheat as a result of a structured model of agriculture to address the model of food security, and we are happy. So, the only challenge we have is climate change. Now, to mitigate against climate change, since the Second Republic came in, we are building dams in every single province.”

He said Zimbabwe has been forced to innovate and think outside the box because of sanctions imposed by the West.

“Most of the countries in the North when they talk about Zimbabwe or dream about Zimbabwe, they only dream about putting sanctions . . . It also makes us think outside the box to beat those sanctions.

“This is why our economy is growing at a rate of perhaps 5 percent, or so, on a yearly basis; it is because we have looked internally and said, under the circumstances where the Global North would like to strangle us, how do we survive? And we are surviving.

“Our people who are now 23-years-old don’t know any freedom except living under sanctions. It is now the norm of life; a way of life for us . . . When you put people under pressure, they will find a way to survive.”

Yesterday’s event was running under the theme, “Africa’s Agenda 2063: Making the Dream Come True”.

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