Itai Mushekwe/Nancy Mabaya/Mary-Kate Kahari/Malvin Motsi
COLOGNE/VANCOUVER/CAPE TOWN/HARARE- Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is reportedly mooting to have the country’s fabulous mineral wealth militarised, under the guise of so called command mining, high level government sources and officials close to the VP’s office have disclosed.
Spotlight Zimbabwe, was this week told that Mnangagwa, who is increasingly on the verge of succeeding President Robert Mugabe, has a team of legal experts working on legislation that will provide for a greater military role in the country’s mining industry, which is seen as boosting the economy for his government should the first spy agency boss at Independence in 1980, assume power as it now looks.
Under some of the mooted law’s provisions said to be in the pipeline, an array of minerals such as uranium, gold, diamonds, chrome and platinum are going to be declared as “National Strategic Minerals”, only to be mined by foreign investors whose countries of origin have a friendly foriegn policy on Zimbabwe.
Mining concessions and licences, our information indicates will be isssued according to the political ties enjoyed between Harare and the international community , in an “official” bid to impede what Mugabe’s administration, believes to be plunder of the country’s minerals through “cheap loans by hostile Western capitals”, it is coming to light.
Mnangagwa who has been minister of defence on numerous occassions, and has knitted influential contacts with various military powers, is said to be aiming to turn around the stressed economy, through his command mining model, by acquiring massive loans, fuel, and arms for the security forces.
Countries set to immensely benefit from the planned law, include China, Russia, Iran, South Africa and North Korea. This publication also has it on good authority that mining companies from Australia and Canada are reportedly making overtures with the current regime, and the response has been somewhat positive.
“It’s going to be a different ball game under Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership,” said a top official familiar with the VP’s office operations. “Mnanagwa wants to turn around the economy, as soon as he assumes the presidency, in the fastest period of time. The mining sector seems to be holding the answers, according to feasibility studies underway.”
The VP insider added that countries with close military ties with Zimbabwe, are going to reap favourable mining deals, as they in turn are willing to supply the country with goods and services she cannot access as a result of so called economic sanctions.
“Mnangagwa is a smart politician. This command mining concept and the legislation being drafted to support it, will see China for instance providing massive multi-billion dollar loans to the new administration in return for minerals of their choice. Russia is going to supply us with arms, in exchange of platinum mines. Iran on the other hand has indicated that they can provide all our fuel needs, in return for our uranium deposits. At the end of the day, Zimbabwe is not going to trouble herself with cash payments, but through leveraging these minerals, huge changes are likely to occur for the economy, which is reeling under a cash crisis,” he said.
This publication has also established that South Africa has continued supplying Zimbabwe with electricity, as a way of returning favour for Pretoria’s preferential treatment by the administration in mining the country’s massive platinum reserves, despite a piling debt of about US$44,5 million or 603 million rands. South Africa’s state-run power utility, Eskom this week said it could cut supplies to Zimbabwe by the end of the month, if Mugabe fails to clear the arrears.
Harare imports 300 megawatts (MW) per day from Eskom.
Spotlight Zimbabwe, has also been told that the militarisation of mines, which is all but reminiscent, of Operation Maguta (Bountiful Harvest), a failed command agriculture exercise unleashed over a decade ago by the army to boost agricultural production, intends to give mining access only to Harare’s allies.
Operation Maguta, was an initiative, launched by Mugabe, which was projected to produce 2,3 million tonnes of maize, 90 000 tonnes of tobacco, 49 500 tonnes of maize seed, 210 000 tonnes of cotton, 750 000 tonnes of horticultural crops, and 8 250 tonnes of tea at the time, but the Stalinist-like initiative dismally flopped.
Security forces attempted to boost production on former white owned commercial farms,stretching farming activities to about 800 000 hectares, all to no avail, under the acting director of operations then, Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba, who has since been promoted to a Major General, working as Chief of Administrative Staff in the capital.
Almost a fortnight ago, Mnanagagwa all but confirmed plans to involve the military in increasing mining production, saying that the programme will only go ahead after investigating viability, and appropriate models for the command mining scheme.
“With regard to the concept of command mining, we are at the drawing board as to what model we can develop in order to have command mining,” Mnangagwa told the government controlled media last week. “We have not yet resolved the model of that command mining; if it lands itself well we will take them (miners) on board, until we are satisfied that we have a model which can work, called command mining, then we would take them on borad. We will not go into a programme unless we are very clear both in terms of us policy makers and stakeholders in that sector accepting that this is the way forward that benefits them in the extraction of depletable resources in our country.”
Mnangagwa has also received backing on the command mining issue from Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, who also recently praised Mugabe for implementing the land reform and indigenisation policies.