ZIMBABWE – President Mugabe is very much concerned about what is taking place throughout the country and it is his wish to know if Cabinet decisions are reaching the grassroots, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has said.VP Mphoko was recently assigned by President Mugabe to go on a fact finding mission to assess major national projects and see how they can be harnessed to transform the country’s economic fortunes under Zim-Asset and the President’s 10-Point Plan.
“President Mugabe is very much concerned about what is taking place throughout the country. He wants to know if Cabinet decisions are reaching the grassroots.
“He wants to know if the Brazilian programme (More Food for Africa) is achieving the intended impact or if factories in Mutare are still operational. We (Government) want to establish what can be done here (Manicaland) to improve our economy and the standard of living of our people. We cannot just be crybabies when we have so many things, a dedicated leader, an educated population and the mineral wealth and natural resources,” said VP Mphoko.
He said the biggest hurdle to achieving economic turnaround was greed which has overpowered most people in the country.
Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Mandi Chimene in her report on the state of the province had highlighted that there was need for more Government support to assist key sectors struggling in the province.
Chimene said the province was the hub of forestry plantations, diamonds, gold, horticulture and dairy farming, but little was evident on the ground to show for it.
She added that little to no significant development had been realised in the province of origin of the Chiadzwa diamonds.
“Honourable Vice-President, the people of Manicaland are crying for value addition projects, not only from agriculture commodities, but minerals as well. “The creation of a diamond cutting and polishing industry to create employment has remained a talk show, but the truth is that we need to benefit from our natural resources because we will carry the burden when the resources are depleted,” said Chimene.
Chimene also called for the reopening of the Penhalonga mining concern, DTZ-OZGEO.
She also called for assistance on the Community Share Ownership Trust saga revealing that only Marange Resources had agreed on a payment plan to pay $50 000 a month to Mutare Rural District Council.
“All the companies are saying they are waiting to see how the amalgamation initiative will be done and then they will pay their balances. They are refusing to pay. The damage on the environment has already been done and we are carrying the burden,” said Chimene.
VP Mphoko said it was a fundamental right for people of Manicaland to benefit from their natural resources. He said the resources were national resources, but the province of origin should be seen benefiting most.
He said he would take up all the issues raised to President Mugabe personally.
Dangamvura-Chikanga Member of National Assembly, Isau Mupfumi, said business was reeling under the prevailing liquidity crunch.
“Honourable Vice-President, business is in a dire state right now. Some businesspeople are in remand prison following civil imprisonment, while several of us are losing properties due to debts accrued from business loans. We really need radical measures to overturn things,” said Mupfumi.
On his Mutare visit, he toured Cairns Foods Mutare, Kenrose Filters, Quest Motors and Feruka Oil Refinery.
At Feruka, VP Mphoko said there was need to revive the non-operational refinery which was shut down in 1965 after only operating for 15 months.
Feruka is currently operating as a loading, storage and blending facility without the refinery.
VP Mphoko said the last feasibility study revealed that $70 million was needed to purchase a new refinery.
He, however, challenged Minister of Energy and Power Development, Samuel Undenge, who was present, to press on the matter and engage investors from either Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan.
PetroZim general manager, Mrs Catherine Katsande, said a new refinery must be built. She said replacing the whole structure was cheaper than refurbishing it.
“The type of crude oil that used back then is different present-day. The throughput of the old refinery has the capacity for only one million litres. We need a new refinery with modern technology and the capacity to produce six million litres a day,” said Mrs Katsande.
She said the facility pumps six million litres of fuel to the Harare Msasa Depot everyday, of which two million was a drag reducing agent to speed up the flow.
At Quest Motors, VP Mphoko was impressed by the quality of motor vehicles manufactured at the plant.
Quest Motors operations manager, Mr Carl Fernandez, bemoaned the fact that Government imported 4 000 cars last year, saying 30 000 jobs in the country’s vehicle assembly sector could have been created from those tenders.
Kenrose Filters director, Mr Kenneth Dziruni, called for the scrapping of duty for their raw materials and for Government to have local procurement quotas to cushion local manufacturing industries.
VP Mphoko said it was important for Government to look into case by case scenarios on distressed companies, taking special consideration for indigenous businesspeople who had built their empires from scratch, but now facing liquidation from banks.