The Herald (Harare)

13 December 2013

Zimbabwe: No One Will Starve - President Mugabe

Chinhoyi — President Mugabe has challenged mining companies in particular, and the business community in general, to partner Government in boosting food security, while also declaring that no one will die of hunger despite last season's poor maize harvest. Addressing the Zanu-PF Central Committee ahead of the Annual National People's Conference that opens today, President Mugabe said deliverables in Zim Asset would be meaningless if people died of hunger.

Zim Asset is the country's economic blueprint - the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation - and it will action Zanu-PF's July 31 election manifesto over the 2013-2018 period.

President Mugabe said there was no reason why Government should allow mining companies to reap huge profits and yet money was not finding its way into State coffers to contribute to national food security and development goals.

He said Government had accepted the Zim Asset blueprint and the party needed to monitor its progress and implementation.

"We have no maize in the country after a bad agriculture season last year," said President Mugabe.

"Attempts have been made and continue to be made to try and get food.

"Leaders, let us not allow our people to die . . . tiri kutatarika sehurumende kutsvaga mari and companies in these three areas (of) gold, platinum and diamonds should yield the money we want . . . even as loans to Government."

President Mugabe, who is also the party's First Secretary, said the Zanu-PF's grassroots structures should alert the leadership on the areas in greatest need of food assistance as a matter of urgency.

He said Government, through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, had a substantial stake in mining firms such as Mbada Diamonds and Anjin, and these should generate revenue to assist the state to avert food insecurity and to boost the standards of living of ordinary people.

He called for vigilance to plug all mineral leakages as these were haemorrhaging the economy.

"If the ZMDC merely sits and watches and at the end of the of the day tinenge tichizoti makatambira mari chitipaiwo mari . . . go! We want a ZMDC that is in physical terms active. That is monitoring on a day-to-day basis what is happening."

President Mugabe said although there was no need to panic yet, this season was also promising to be a difficult one for farmers as the rainfall patterns were erratic.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said there was need to regularise operations of small-scale miners, commonly known as "makorokoza", so that they channelled whatever they got to formal business and thus contribute more meaningfully to the country and its economy.

He bemoaned the smuggling of gold, especially to South Africa, saying this was prejudicing the country of much-needed revenue.

"There is a need to improve on our mining," he said.

"We need to revise carefully and in a revolutionary way that sector.

"Most of our gold is finding its way to South Africa, especially nemakorokoza," he said.

"We are saying let them be regulated and guided properly so that they can mine properly not pakati perwizi.

"We don't want to stop (them), but guide them."

President Mugabe said there was need to strengthen security in the mining sector, saying Government was aware that some planes were overtly landing in the country and being used to smuggle minerals out of Zimbabwe.

Diamonds and platinum, President Mugabe said, were not bringing much benefit to the country and there was a need to re-organise these mining sectors.

The Herald reported last week that mining companies banked just three percent of their revenues in the country, and there have been other reports that more gold is smuggled out of Zimbabwe than that which is sold through official channels.

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