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Africa should maximise vast mineral wealth

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THE 34th Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Summit kicks off in Victoria Falls this week and incoming regional chair President Robert Mugabe is eager to take over the reins of power.

NEWSDAY EDITORIAL

He has already laid out his plan which includes withdrawing Sadc forces from peace missions elsewhere, especially in Ebola-hit countries in West Africa.
And if reports doing the rounds are anything to go by, then opposition parties cannot expect the regional body to deal with a political crisis in Zimbabwe whether perceived or real.

But, we believe the Sadc Summit should be used to, among other things, look into the issue of the region’s economic being vis-a-vis mineral wealth and how it can be used to wean off the bloc from its reliance on Western countries.

One of the major flaws in Southern Africa’s economic system is mineral leakages, which need to be plugged, if the countries are to realise value for their natural wealth.

Africa should opt for maximisation of rich mineral resources that abound in this region rather than primarily rely on investment from other parts of the globe, including Asia, so that it stands on its feet rather than rely on paltry handouts from the United States.

The recent US Africa Leadership Summit at which US President Barack Obama pledged $33 billion in “investment” money should actually be viewed as a mockery given the rich mineral wealth that lies in the region. If viewed against the backdrop of the minerals that are annually pilfered from Africa by the US alone, it is just chicken feed, nothing to write home about, and an insult to Africans’ intellect.

Obama also pledged $300 million in assistance per year to expand the reach of Power Africa in pursuit of a new, aggregate goal of 30 000 Megawatts and announced $7 billion in new financing under the Doing Business in Africa Campaign that would support US trade with and investment in Africa over the next two years.

If each of the 50 African states were to receive an equal share from the $33 billion, this would translate to about $660 million per nation and that is a measly amount.

What Africa needs are not handouts of charity. It needs to overhaul its economic systems and structures to ensure that it gets real value for its wealth.

Last year alone it was reported that the country was losing over $50 million worth of gold every month to smuggling activities, according to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.

According to recent reports, the figure has gone up to $100 million monthly yet stopping these leakages can go a long way in boosting the country’s economy.

It is evident therefore that Sadc has huge deposits of gold, a mineral that has become the ultimate guarantee of survival.

This therefore means that the Victoria Falls Summit should be in a position to give answers and convince the region’s peoples that indeed, they are the owners of their natural resources and should, consequently, enjoy the benefits of such wealth.

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