Government reassures investors as nation gears for elections

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HARARE: President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday implored investors not to worry about political uncertainty as the nation gears up for elections to be held mid this year.

In a speech read on his behalf by acting president Constantino Chiwenga at a mining conference, Mnangagwa urged both local and foreign investors to take advantage of the country’s rich mineral resource base to invest in the sector.

“We are a peaceful country and we urge all of you to take advantage of the peaceful business environment to do business with us.

“We will soon be going for harmonized elections. However, there is no need to worry about political uncertainly and this should not adversely affect your investment decisions.

“My government is fully committed to the holding of free, fair and credible elections which are in line with Southern African Development Community and African Union principles and guidelines governing democratic elections,” Mnangagwa said.

He said his new government was rolling out a raft of economic reforms to enhance Zimbabwe’s competitiveness and re-position it as an investment destination of choice in Africa.

Since coming into power last November, the new government had implemented policy measures to improve the mining environment, including reviewing the controversial indigenization policy which now restricts minority ownership in mining firms by foreigners to only two minerals – platinum and diamonds, the president said.

He said government had also deferred the 15 percent tax on unrefined platinum, lithium and granite exports to January 2019 to allow miners to build beneficiation plants.

The tax will be implemented on a sliding scale which takes into account the level of beneficiation, he added.

“In other words, the higher the level of beneficiation, the less tax one pays,” he said.

The president reiterated that the mining sector remained critical to Zimbabwe’s economic growth as it continued to be a major foreign currency earner.

“We therefore need to expeditiously come up with strategies on how local, regional and global finance can be mobilized so that we realize maximum value from our mineral resources,” he said.

Mines Minister Winston Chitando said Zimbabwe needs more capital to fully exploit its mining sector potential.

“We have abundant minerals resources. We do have a good human capital base but what we have lacked as a country is enough capital to take advantage of the resources we have,” he said.

It is estimated that the mining sector requires 7 billion U.S. dollars to fully recapitalize.

Zimbabwe has over 40 known minerals resources that are not being fully exploited due to lack of capital.

Chitando said Zimbabwe is working on ramping up investment in lithium production, adding that the country is aiming to produce at least 10 percent of the world’s lithium in the next four years.

He also said government will in March float a tender for the establishment of a joint venture that will set up a plant in the Midlands city of Kwekwe to process refractory gold that is mainly found in Lupane, Matabeleland North Province.