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Minister urges minerals beneficiation

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ZIMBABWE Foreign Affairs deputy minister Christopher Mutsvangwa says integrated regional minerals beneficiation is critical to the economic advancement of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.

LINDA CHINOBVA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Speaking at the 2014 Sadc People’s Summit in Bulawayo on Friday, Mutsvangwa, a former diplomat, said people in the region have continued to suffer due to constant failure to work as a united bloc in particular with regards to mineral administration and beneficiation.

“It is disheartening that the people of this region have continued to suffer because we have failed to work as a united bloc with regards mineral administration.

“The majority of countries in the Sadc region are generally rich in minerals and other resources which are vital for the creation of wealth and its contribution to improve the people’s quality of life,” he said.

He said Africa needs in excess of $93 billion for infrastructure development and as a bloc, Sadc resources could be used to develop the region.

Mutsvangwa said the issue of mineral beneficiation was at the centre of the Sadc summit this year as regional leaders aim to address imbalances caused by minerals extraction.

Lesotho Development for Peace Education represantative, Secker Mabataung, said Sadc resources must be used to benefit people of the region primarily as the resources were currently benefiting foreigners who are already developed.

“Sadc resources must benefit the people of the region primarily and there is need to destroy the inherited colonial structures that are largely responsible for the corporate impunity in the region.

“There are a lot of resources like minerals that could be meaningful to development in the Sadc region thus we have to benefit from such resources,” she said.

Mabataung added the governments have to protect the people first and not serve corporate and elite interests. Vladimir Tambwe, a delegate from Mozambique, said the mismanagement and looting of resources by foreign investors was a cause for concern.

“The major reason why the Sadc people are drowning in poverty is because all our resources have been looted by foreign investors who are developing their own countries using our resources,” she said.

“What makes it even worse is that they loot our resources in active collaboration with Sadc governments yet we are suffering like this.

“This issue must be addressed because we cannot be poor when we are rich in resources,” he said. Another delegate from Swaziland Sophie Mahlosane said there must be even distribution of resources.

“The region is pregnant with resources, but the resources are being distributed unevenly as they are only benefiting a few people at the expense of others.

“Everyone must benefit from the resources as the uneven distribution could lead to civil unrest,” she said.

Joy Mabenge a delegate from Zimbabwe said governments have to be accountable for the resources within the respect countries.

“It is important that respective governments within the region be accountable for the resources,” he said. “We have witnessed foreigners looting our resources and we then expect governments to be answerable to how such transactions would benefit the people.”

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