Boldly marching forward, towards economic sovereignty

03 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
Boldly marching forward, towards economic sovereignty President Mnangagwa

The Sunday News

By His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa

Defying gravity 

AMID a myriad of challenges facing economies of the world, Zimbabwe continues to witness and register signature foreign direct investment projects. These projects cut across sectors and cover the length and breadth of Zimbabwe’s territory, in fulfilment of our policy of devolution and even development.

Bikita lithium project in Masvingo

Only two weeks ago, I was in Bikita, Masvingo, where a Chinese investor, Sinomine, has taken over operations of that key lithium asset which was almost going dormant. Output has grown tremendously and an exciting expansion programme is underway.

 Muzarabani puts Zimbabwe on global map

In Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, activities on our oil and gas project continue to gather steam. Huge rigs are coming in to start the drilling programme which should make us noticeable globally as a supplier of energy. 

Zulu Lithium Project set to take off

In Insiza District, Matabeleland South, a project on lithium and tantalum is set to commence, thanks to a financial facility secured from China. Zulu Lithium will change both Matabeleland South and Bulawayo, again buouying the Gross Domestic Products of both Provinces.

Hwange steams ahead

In Matabeleland North Province, Hwange steams ahead because of our coal reserves which continue to power our growth. That resource  continues to guarantee us thermal power; its coking coal fires our furnaces, thus turning wheels of industries.

Goromonzi Lithium, Makaha Gold, Mt Meru Millers 

Goromonzi Lithium deposits in Mashonaland East have now secured a well-heeled Chinese investor who is already hard at work. Only end of last month, I was at Makaha in the same province where I commissioned a new gold mine. Last week on Wednesday, I commissioned Mount Meru Millers in rural Seke, again in Mashonaland East. This project manufactures edible oils. It is important not just in itself, but for what it portents by way of our goal of agro-driven rural industrialisation. Farmers, big and small, are set feed into the hungry milling plant through an out-grower programme which the investor is ready to sponsor. This initiative is sure to change the face of agriculture, as has happened in 15 other African countries where Mount Meru Millers operates.

More Lithium at Shava, fertilisers 

In Manicaland, vast deposits of lithium at Shava are soon to find suitors, given the global shift to clean energy and industry. Lithium is key to that shift, placing us in enviable space. Not too far from Shava, in the north-east direction, is Dorowa Phosphates Mine whose activities are now expanding, in line with our goal to achieve national self-sufficiency in fertilisers for our agriculture. Sable Chemicals near Kwekwe in the Midlands province, is expanding in sympathy so our ammonium nitrate needs for agriculture are met locally. We are set to ride the bumpy road of disrupted global supply lines related to the war in Eastern Europe. Significantly, our wheat target for this season, is well in sight, likely making us self-sufficient for the first time in our country’s history.

The story of Manhize, Disco Steel Works 

Mashonaland West’s vast deposits of high grade iron ore at Manhize are enough to last for the next 200 years. These are about to be exploited by a Chinese Company, Dinson. Next to that vast resource, in the Midlands Province, a giant steel plant — the largest on the African continent — is steadily taking shape. Its impact will be felt in three provinces: Midlands itself, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East. It will also be felt in neighbouring Mozambique where a whole port to handle steel exports from Zimbabwe is set to be developed.

Creating employment for Zimbabweans 

As I write, Dinson Iron and Steel Company (DISCO) has already assembled on site all the materials required for the first phase of the Steels Project, which will be implemented in three phases. This USD1 billion project’s first phase is set to be completed early next year, possibly by March at the latest. Already, it is employing over 600 Zimbabweans, with the total workforce projected to exceed 3 000, when fully operational. 

Largest steel works in Africa

Soon after the first phase, DISCO will produce 1,2 million tonnes of steel, the largest on the African continent. When complete, Zimbabwe’s steels production will gallop to more than three million tonnes, thus making us a global steel supplier.

Infrastructural spin-offs 

Infrastructural projects concomitant with the steels plant are numerous, all of them impactful. A new high voltage power line will run from Sherwood to Manhize. An all-weather access road will tear off the Masvingo-Harare Highway to the plant. A new railway line will run from Manhize to Mvuma, extending our rail footprint. A sizeable dam will be constructed along Munyati River, impacting contiguous resettlement areas through irrigation.

Birth of a Steel City 

In respect of the whole Economy, steel companies which folded up in the wake of Zisco’s collapse, will resurrect from the graveyard. New steels projects altogether will also come on stream, turning Manhize into a buoyant steels sector. The impact downstream is vast, with a mini-city set to sprout from what until now has been a swathe of virgin land bordered by a mountain range.

From light to heavy industries 

Not less than 20 000 jobs will be created downstream. Billions of dollars will be saved through the substitution of steel imports; many more billions will be earned by way of exports. Above all, with steel locally available, the Zimbabwean economy is set to transform from light to heavy industries capable of manufacturing capital goods and materials needed in large infrastructures. 

Beneath flippant headlines 

This week I have elected to share these economic vignettes which I have drawn from our eight spatial provinces simply to show a lot is happening in our economy. Not many see these developments which are unfolding beneath the common gaze, and certainly beyond flippant headlines. Yet this is a great story which we are slowly but surely writing, in spite of illegal sanctions which were designed to break us. 

Even the world acknowledges, acclaims 

Our detractors who include local players relish painting a picture of gloom and doom, in order to induce despondency in our Nation. Yet the story of our economy which is on the rebound, is being noticed by many, principally investors, the World Bank and even the International Monetary Fund. What makes it even more spectacular is the fact that it is home-grown to the extent it is unfolding without external borrowing.

On a bold march 

This past week our Treasury announced far-reaching policy changes which seek to right-set our economy for durable growth and buoyant activity in production. Treasury also announced a raft of safety nets we need to cushion our people in this phase of transition. We have to protect the gains we have made so far, while preparing to scale up economic activity. Zimbabwe is defiantly in the middle of a bold, irreversible forward march, even against veritable external shocks and numerous impediments placed in her way. The current turbulence in the global arena has not and should not dampen us; rather, it should spur us on, tickle creativity and bolster our resolve to emerge stronger and more resilient. We have what it takes, and strong partners ready to walk with us. 

Eschewing UDI-era business culture 

Our quest for greater, broad-based investments, both local and global, is beginning to bear fruit. We are now attracting capital from across the world, including from non-traditional sources. This ensures diversity and richness which come with different business traditions and cultures, thus challenging the bane of corporate inbreeding we have suffered from since Independence. Enterprises who owe their birth and business culture to the UDI era of monopolies, oligopolies and State protectionism, should sense that the operating environment is fast changing. Equally, Government’s expectations will be less sympathetic to gratuitous calls for repeated protection by corporates who intercept benefits from State support through extortionate pricing of goods and services. We have tried moral persuasion which some in business mistake for weakness. We may now need to devise new strategies which ensure the consumer is respected and benefits from opportunities availed to the market by Government through benefiting corporates. The foreign currency auction system has been the main vehicle for such benefits, which the consumer is yet to enjoy.

Where world capital, business

cultures meet 

Zimbabwe must aim to be the country where diverse capital and business cultures meet and interact competitively, including with our own. Reliance on capital and business culture from any one market does not help us. It makes us vulnerable, especially in the current global environment of shifting competencies, attitudes, interests and alliances. We must cast our net wider so we get good investors and partnerships where gain in mutual. Above all, we must angle for actors who share our vision of domesticating value addition and strategic value chains, in line with our National Development Strategy 1.

Our hunt for partners is worldwide

The key lesson from current global turbulence is economic sovereignty. We should break free from any limiting outlooks and linkages, including those foist on us by colonial history. We are not owned by any country, wedded to any region or hemisphere. While we belong to Africa, our hunt takes us worldwide, in search of those inputs we need as an economy, as an ambitious people, and as a going Nation. As we proclaimed at the beginning of the Second Republic, we are friends to all, and enemy to none. We thus should not hesitate to push frontiers of friendship in all directions of the globe. 

Only our National Interest dictates 

Our interests select our friends. No Nation, however, strong and mighty, chooses friends or dictates enemies for us. We respect all races, nationalities, peoples and Nations of the world. We expect no less in return. This is why we engage and re-engage, hoping for and deserving reciprocity at every instance.

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