Chidhakwa: A man on a mission

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ZIMBABWE has the largest mineral wealth per capita in the world and simply put, every one of the 13 million people in the country can be allocated minerals whose value they cannot diminish in their lifetime.
But sadly Africans and Zimbabweans have not significantly benefited from this vast mineral wealth, until recently for the country, as conglomerates have made it their business to ensure that the continent’s riches benefit Western metropoli.
However, President Robert Mugabe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment programme is presently rectifying that anomaly.
President Mugabe has described the Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa as an ‘honest, hardworking young man’.
And the man is presently hard at work trying to straighten an industry that has for long been dominated by whites.
Major on Chidhakwa’s to-do list is ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector as well as getting rid of corruption.
His grit and determination, thus far, in cleansing the mining sector has won him admirers and foes in equal measure.
But the mines minister is far from being contend and satisfied with his efforts that have seen him traverse the country engaging not only the big players but small ones as well.
One of the few senior Government officials who personally returns phone calls Chidhakwa insists that more than anything else it is the success that lies ahead that drives him.
Chidhakwa, whose thinking is obviously generational, says the mining sector which is expected to contribute at least 11, 2 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and identified as key to national development must develop and maintain a culture of transparency.
The minister’s campaign for transformation in the highly lucrative sector is underpinned by the establishment of a progressive mineral development policy that speaks to the nation’s aspirations while at the same time catering for investors needs.
New boards have been set up to revamp a sector that had been dogged by incompetence, corruption and a general lethargy.
The sector which now accounts for more than 50 percent of foreign exchange inflows into the country is expected to anchor Government’s new economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-ASSET).
The Zim-ASSET recognises beneficiation as key to the country’s anticipated economic growth.
There is no doubt that Chidhakwa’s steadfast stance on the need to correct the ills that have rocked the sector, especially in the diamond field, will draw the wrath of the companies and individuals who have been sucked in the gems corruption.
But Chidhakwa says there is no second guessing on the need to uplift the masses through their resources.
“This is about the people of Zimbabwe, and a bright future for them,” Minister Chidhakwa told The Patriot this week.
“We are looking at bringing maximum benefits to the people of Zimbabwe and we will stop at nothing in ensuring that we achieve those goals.
“Our thrust is to build a secure future for generations to come, we have to start now by ensuring that we do things properly in the sector, everyone, the companies we must all work hard to produce results and contribute to the economy.”
Minister Chidhakwa had no kind words for the previous Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) board saying Government representatives in the board connived with mining companies to under declare diamond revenue and outright looting of funds.
“One of our biggest problems has been that the people we have seconded to some of our mining ventures where we are in joint ventures have not done, as Zimbabweans, what we asked them to do when they got to those companies,” he said.
“So, we want to ensure that we play a much greater role in the management of those companies.
“We get full information about what is happening in those companies from exploration to mining, right up to marketing.”
Speaking at the 14th ZANU PF National People’s Conference Central Committee meeting in Chinhoyi last year, President Mugabe took a swipe at ZMDC for not doing enough to protect and promote the country’s interests in mining.
It is definitely not business-as-usual at the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development as Chidhakwa continues on his mission to take Zimbabwe to the promised land.
He is a man on a mission.

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