Mines not cash machines

HARARE - This week, Australian mining tycoon and one of the country’s richest persons Gina Rinehart accused her government of using the mining industry as an ATM.

“What few seem to properly understand — even people in government — is that miners and other resources industries aren’t just ATMs (cash machines) for everyone else to draw from without that money first having to be earned and, before that, giant investments are made,” she said.

From this, we hope our government should take a leaf.

Zimbabwe’s position as an emerging mining superpower should not be taken for granted, or jeopardised by political short-sightedness.

The mining sector has been one of the most critical drivers of economic growth in the last three years contributing more than 60 percent of total exports, but in recent weeks reports have emerged of two proposed legal developments in Zimbabwe that may raise concerns for foreign investors in the country’s mining industry.

Recently, the Mines ministry produced a draft minerals policy, which seeks to increase State participation in exploration, mining and the selling of metals and minerals.

Earlier in the year, the Indigenisation and Youth Empowerment ministry proposed a new law that would amend Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to permit the uncompensated expropriation of foreign-owned companies in the country’s mining sector.

This is coming at a time when State-owned companies have failed to perform which shows how greedy our politicians are and how bent they are on destroying all the good things in the country.

Currently, the mining sector — which is expected to anchor our economy in the medium to long term — is the only industry which is performing well at the moment employing hundreds of thousands of people and accounting for the highest export earnings in the country.

What Zimbabwe needs at the moment are investor-friendly laws that will allow the mining sector to be fully-developed for the benefit of everyone in the country not these monstrous laws being spearheaded by Zanu PF.

Government must be warned that it should desist from reaping where it did not sow.

One would expect that after the disastrous land reform programme that turned our country into a basket case, ministers should have learnt a thing or two. But alas, the madness is still continuing!

The chamber of mines should be commended for taking a tough stance against government’s move to increase mining taxes, loyalties and licensing fees among other things.

Without mining and its related companies, this country has no hope of repaying our record debt without facing the problems Greece and other countries faced with overspending and consequent debt traumas.

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