There is need 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 who are wallowing in abject poverty, says incoming SADC chair for the council of ministers, Simbarashe Mumbngegwi.
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.
As the 15-member states converge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s resort town, the SADC regional leaders seek to review the policies on natural and mineral resources and ensure that the “Scott-free” situation, allowing investors to export minerals in raw form as opposed to adding value to benefit the countries is overcome.
Mumbngegwi said 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.
Addressing journalists at the ongoing 34th SADC Heads of States and Government Summit, August 16, Mumbngegwi who is also Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister regretted that people in SADC were losing out benefits at the expense of investors.
“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 annual summit comes up under a theme: “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”
He, however, noted that although the decision being undertaken by the leaders is a challenge to most member states, it is imperative that the region comes up with uniform legislation that will redress the imbalances.
Zimbabwe, he said, is reviewing policies in the mining and other sectors to allow its citizens own 51 percent in various companies as a way of empowering them and ensure they benefit from the economic policies of the Government while taking into consideration the real returns for investors and ensure a “win-win situation” for all.
“We would like to see Zimbabweans own 51 percent so that they have a final say in their mineral resources as well as the administration of the country and at the same time we would like to ensure the investors attain the real benefactions” Mumbngegwi added.
Zambia too, has sought to review legislation in mining with Government planning to enact legislation aimed at promoting investment through value addition of its resources.
He told delegates to the recently-held international mining and energy conference that adding value to minerals will help boast the country’s economic strength through job creation.
Commerce trade and industry Minister Bob Sichinga urged investors to maximise on the local refinery facilities in the country unlike exporting raw materials, which deprived the country.