The quest for the 15-Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to re-define their policies to benefit from the vast mineral and natural resources endowed with has received recognition from one of the eminent leaders from the region.
Former Mozambique President Joachim Chissano says it is time for African leaders, not only in SADC but the continent as a whole, to liberate itself the continent economically through value addition to its raw materials.
Addressing journalists in Lusaka, August 20, Chissano noted that it is time Africa devised better polices to benefit from its natural and mineral wealth and add value the people’s livelihood.
“We will be more independent than dependent by improving our raw materials. We want fair interdependence with the Western countries,” he told reporters.
During the just ended 34th SADC Heads of States and Government Summit held in the resort town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, says incoming SADC chair for the council of ministers and Zikmbabwean foreign affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbngegwi said the desire was for the leadership to maximise.
It is time, for SADC leaders to devise ‘uniform’ legislations that will benefit the people in the 15-member Southern African region in collaboration with investors that export raw material at the expense of the more than 270 million populace, many wallowing in abject poverty.
It is estimated that SADC has vast resources of gold, diamonds, coal, copper and other minerals which have remained unexploited among member states endowed with the resources.
This has in turn given rise to the investors that export the resources in raw form at the expense of the majority that wallow in poverty.
Mumbngegwi said it was regrettable that most of the investors in SADC were allowed to export minerals in raw form as opposed to adding value to benefit the countries where the minerals and natural resources were derived.
It is imperative for the member countries to review policies regarding mineral and natural resource beneficiation noting that the region has for long been deprived of the real returns of their mineral and natural wealth, he added in his address to journalists at the Summit, August 16.
According to Mumbngegwi, Zimbabwe was actively pursuing a review of various policies to empower its people through ownership to enable them having a say in the administration of the economy.
“Those who get or extract minerals are benefiting more from our mineral wealth than the owners…….this is a big challenge that we need to redress not to alleviate poverty but to eradicate it completely,” he said.
The summit was held under the theme: “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”
However, Chissano claimed ‘America is ignorant about Africa’s potential’ while China is taking a leading role in investing in the continent which is endowed with different types of raw materials.
“China has been an eye-opener of how rich Africa is in terms of raw materials and human development. I am not astonished that America has done very little investments in Africa apart from aid and loans,” Chissano added.
Zambia too, has had to re-think about its mineral and natural resources which remain under-utilised and seeks to review policies that will ensure the country adds value to them to better the lives of its more than 13 million population.
Vice President Guy Scott recently told delegates to the Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference in Lusaka that adding value to minerals will help boast the country’s economic strength through job creation.
Former Commerce trade and industry Minister Bob Sichinga added his voice with a call to investors to maximise on the local refinery facilities in the country unlike exporting raw materials, which deprived the country.