The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Only Zimbabwe Can Control Its Resources - Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe will never allow foreigners to control its vast natural resources, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has said. Minister Mnangagwa said most western countries had tried in vain to control the country's resources.

He was speaking in Harare today during the graduation of 31 Sadc inspectors trained under the Sadc Defence Inspectorate Working Group.

The inspectors, drawn from all Sadc countries, includes civilians will train their colleagues to improve the operation and proficiency of the military component of the Sadc Standby Force in war times.

They will also inspect different countries' preparedness for any eventuality as some countries, prior to pledging equipment and personnel have been found lacking during deployment times.

"All the noise you hear about Zimbabwe emanates from uncanny desire to control our natural resources," Minister Mnangagwa said.

"Our aim is to safeguard the gains of the liberation struggle and ensure that no foreigner controls our resources. We are happy that the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme which had been used as a tool to monitor our diamond production and in the process put spanners in the sale of these diamonds, is no longer required to monitor us," he said.

Minister Mnangagwa thanked Sadc countries for standing by Zimbabwe during hard times.

"We are grateful to all the Sadc countries for having supported us when we were being lambasted by the West and accused of various crimes, including the so called human rights violations," he said.

"We are aware that Sadc countries have been under immense pressure to dump Zimbabwe but because we are Sadc with a vision for a shared future, the countries have supported us.

"This shows that as Sadc, we will always stand together when it comes to issues of common interest."

He said Zimbabwe was a democratic country that observes the rule of law.

"If anything we are the ones that taught the British the democratic processes of one man one vote," Minister Mnangagwa said.

"It is also interesting to note that after we formed our inclusive Government, the British went ahead and formed their own. While they lambast us, they have a lot to learn from Zimbabwe."

The inclusive Government, Minister Mnangagwa said, was operating fairly well. "This is despite the unwarranted pessimism expressed by our detractors during its infancy," he said.

"We may have disagreements here and there but these are minor and will not stop us from achieving our aim of uniting the people of Zimbabwe so that they speak with one voice."

"We are currently in the process of coming up with a people's constitution and the draft is already out and what remains is a referendum to seek approval from the people."

For the two weeks, the inspectors were trained in operational readiness instructional techniques and Sadc structures and their operations.

Minister Mnangagwa said the courses should help in monitoring compliance and maintenance of standards within the military component of the SSF.

"As Sadc we depend on you inspectors to ensure that the forces we will deploy whenever the need arises and meet the requisite international standards," he said.

One of the participants, Colonel Cameron Fihla of South Africa said the inspectors could now conduct inspections on any Sadc unit.

"We will be acting as ears and eyes of Sadc," he said.

"You have empowered us with knowledge that will help the Sadc Standby Force and our achievements will be tested in the field and we hope to our best."

This is the first group to be trained for the inspectorate job. Regional countries resolved to contribute troops under the SSF to defend member states from revolts and aggression

The brigade, under the command of Tanzania, is in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where M23 rebels had launched an onslaught against President Joseph Kabila's government.

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