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We have neglected Manicaland for too long Mr President Sir

23 Jun 2023 at 11:29hrs | Views
On the 24th of June 2023, the President and First secretary of Zanu-PF, Cde ED Mnangagwa, will launch the Zanu PF campaign foundation upon which this year's election bid will be built upon in Chipinge, Manicaland. It is no surprise the current President and the Zimbabwean government has recognized the importance of the region and the contribution of the Human Resources to the liberation struggle from this region. This is the home  province of the founding father, the gauntlet son, the true freedom fighter Cde Ndabaningi Sithole and some of the deadliest freedom fighters John (KG) Gwitira, Edgar Tekere, Herbert Chitepo just to name a few high profile individuals.

The Smith regime recognised the importance of Manicaland province and was the centre of the country's liberation struggle as freedom fighters and the colonial regime strove to control the strategically positioned province, which provided the nearest route into Mozambique which had allowed Zimbabwe's freedom fighters to establish their training and military bases in the country.

Manicaland province bears the blunt of the liberation struggle, with each average family losing at least 2 members and sadly the province is not benefiting from its sacrifices. Manicaland is a province that contributed at least 75 percent of liberation war fighters (Chidawanyika 2000 , yet 43 years on, despite its vast mineral resources, tourist attractions, well educated workforce and proximity to the Indian Ocean, Manicaland has not developed an inch and your launch Mr President should address these short-comings.

Following the farm invasions and the immediate destruction of the agriculture sector at the beginning of the year 2000, the downfall of the agriculture sector opened up avenues for the dominance and prioritisation of other sectors in the economy of Zimbabwe such as mining. However, the discovery of minerals such as diamonds in Chiadzwa and gold marked a new era in the economic revival and resuscitation of the region and Zimbabwe in general. The national focus has now shifted from an agricultural-based economy to a mineral-rich resources-dependent economy. All of this was part of the efforts to revive an impoverished country. Manicaland has a long history of mining and a large known resource base of diamond , gold and other deposits and has very good potential for further discoveries. The Chiadzwa mining fields account 70% of total export value for the region and is a significant source of government revenue and formal employment, both directly and indirectly.Given this rich endowment of natural resources, an array of stakeholders in Manica province including investors, government agencies, and civil society organizations, have long questioned why our minerals and vast natural resources are not bringing as much benefit as they should to this province.

The province is rich in minerals and is gifted with some of the best tourist attractions  but this has not been fully managed to convert this wealth for the benefit of the people. Our regional government needs to know where to improve and what changes to make so that the region can harness this vast wealth for the benefit not only of current, but also future generations of Manicaland province.

Manicaland is an attractive place for investment due to favorable geology, its long history of mining and a relatively favorable economic environment. But the region's positive aspects are overshadowed by the central government's lack of transparency and accountability regarding revenue management especially from the diamond fields that has been kept a secret since the discovery, a lack of consistency surrounding fiscal policy, and lack of support for diversifying the economy and leveraging of infrastructure for the general population in the region.

With the world waking up to the benefit of owning underground resources,indigenous communities across the world have been asserting their rights to the mineral wealth found under the land they own or possess or have traditional rights to. During colonialism communities have been historically denied even a share of that huge wealth, let alone legal rights of ownership. Under the contemporary deregulated neo-liberal policy framework, the exploitation and plunder of natural resources, including minerals, by domestic corporates and multinational mining companies has intensified. But the resistance by affected communities across the world has also grown and is reflected, over the years, in the establishment of an international framework through International Labour Organization  (ILO) and United Nations (U.N.) Conventions, which recognise in varying degrees the rights of indigenous communities to ownership, control and management of land and resources traditionally held by them either individually or as a community; the right to a decisive role in decision making for development needs in their areas; and the right to prioritise , free and informed consent to any projects in their areas.

While these are encouraging advances won by the struggles and immense sacrifices of communities around the world, what is important is their translation into legal instruments in member countries. The issue has immediate relevance for Zimbabwe following the introduction of the Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) which was established to ensure equity participation of communities affected by mining operations but this no longer has legal backing outside diamond and platinum sectors, following the gazetting of the Finance Act of 2018 and is a failure that is never talked about.

Following the failure of Zimbabwe's community share ownership trusts (CSOTS) set up by the former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe's government to benefit poor communities in resource-rich areas of Zimbabwe, a new approach has to be adopted by creating a sustainable urban development plan through a collaborative community development initiative. This initiative should involve all stakeholders that included local government, companies operating in the area, and the high quality participation of the entire community of the area. Its purpose will be to address the shortcomings in the area and to propose an integrated, forward-looking approach to make the mining area attractive to its people and increase investment in Manica Province.

The Manica community initiatives should consider projects in the areas of infrastructure and urban development, environmental protection, local heritage, provision of water, power supply provision, educational improvement and employing only the local people. All the projects should stimulate a more sustainable community. In order to develop the project portfolio, there has to be initiative sponsored direct participation through an open house, technical tables, forums, and open committees.

For any country to develop, the community needs to develop. It is the most common basic unit of society after the family and when there is development in the community, there is a general improvement in a nation's economy and now is the time to create a Manicaland Development Trust (MDT) whose role is to spearhead the development of the communities. The process for developing Manicaland involves bringing the communities together and creating a process where they work collectively towards finding solutions to the problems that affect them. It is time to come together and come up with the same efforts and commitment to develop our region that brought independence to our lovely country Zimbabwe.

Your Excellency now that your focus is on Manicaland, it is now time to also inject your economic energy on the development of Manicaland Province and allow the Manica communities to benefit from the liberation struggle that was won through the spilling of blood.

Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi Call/whatsapp +263772278161

Source - Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
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