‘Why Zimbabweans are poor’ – Khupe

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Zimbabweans are poor because of the policies of their government and the institutions it has created.

This was said by Movement for Democratic Change vice-president Thokozani Khupe in Parliament yesterday when she presented a motion calling on the government to resuscitate the country’s economy through domestic resource mobilisation but focused on the Lupane methane gas deposits.

She said that though the project was given national project status in 2007 nothing had been down 14 years down the line.

It was because of this NATO, No Action but Talk Only, that Zimbabweans were poor, she said.

“There is not even a single person who was born poor. Every person was born with their own potential but people are poor because of institutions that are built by Government,” she said.

“People are poor because of systems that are created by Government. People are poor because of policies that are formulated by Government.

“Mr. Speaker Sir, if Government was to build good institutions, create good systems and formulate good policies, every person will be able to explore their potential and have capacity to cultivate personal growth and the growth of their countries towards the developmental path.”

Below is her full contribution.

RESUSCITATION OF THE ECONOMY THROUGH DOMESTIC RESOURCE MOBILISATION

HON. DR. KHUPE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to move the motion standing in my name that this House;

MINDFUL that domestic resource mobilisation is essential in ameliorating the burden of repayment of overdue debts and bringing about normalcy in the resuscitation of the economic sector in the country;

ACKNOWLEDGING the inalienable rights of the people to better living conditions through the utilisation of their country’s diverse mineral resources such as the untapped lucrative coal bed methane gas which still lies untapped in Lupane yet it can generate millions of revenue to the State;

COGNISANT that the natural methane gas reserves in Lupane which were discovered several decades ago have the potential to strengthen the economy of the country in a very short time by boosting the energy generation capacity;

FURTHER COGNISANT that Zimbabwe is not a party to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for the good governance of mineral resources which seeks to address the key governance issues in the extractive sector;

NOW, THEREFORE, CALLS upon the Executive to;

  1. a) Expeditiously find a reliable investor to convene operation on the methane gas resources on a Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
  2. b) Prioritise the engagement of locals in this project in view of their background knowledge of the prevailing conditions in the area.
  3. c) Consider joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as a matter of urgency in view of the benefits that can be accrued along the value chain starting from the point of extraction right up to where government generates revenue.

HON. GABBUZA:  I second.

HON. DR. KHUPE:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  First of all, I would like to thank you for affording me this opportunity to move the motion which is before us.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to begin by emphasising that Domestic Resource Mobilisation is a process whereby countries are supposed to raise and spend their own resources to provide for their citizens.  It is also a long term trajectory towards sustainable development.

When Sustainable Development Goals were established in 2015, it was realised that support from Development Partners was never going to be enough, hence the reason why countries were encouraged to step up their efforts in raising domestic resources to cater for five key SDGs, which are education, health, roads, electricity and water.

Mr. Speaker Sir, domestic resource mobilisation does not only provide countries with resources in order to alleviate poverty and give people a better life but it also helps countries to move out of donor dependence.

Mr. Speaker Sir, development is the ability of a country to satisfy the needs of the people using its own resources.  The needs being food, shelter, health, education, water and sanitation among others.  It is therefore critical for countries to make sure that they raise and spend their own resources in providing for these needs.

Domestic resource mobilisation is also key for economic growth and poverty eradication.  It is also key in providing resources to clear our debts.  As Zimbabwe, we are sitting on a debt of about US$10 billion.  Mr. Speaker Sir, it is clear that we might not be able to clear that debt any time soon.  At the same time, we might leave a debt burden to our great grand children.  This is pointing to the importance of mobilising resources domestically.

Zimbabwe is a very rich country which is endowed with enormous mineral resources such as gold, diamond, platinum, gold and coal-bed methane gas among the 60 minerals we have in this country.  The sad reality though is that there is absolutely nothing to show that we have such mineral resources as the majority of Zimbabweans are living in abject poverty.

Lupane District, one area which has one such mineral resource out of the 60 which remains untapped. It is a district which is surrounded by a sea of poverty whilst at the same time, it has got this lucrative mineral resource coal-bed methane gas. This project has seen a lot of ribbon cutting events to kick start it. This mineral resource is worth billions of dollars and has a potential of generating thousands of jobs in line with NDS 1 which anticipates creating at least 760 000 formal jobs in five years.

This project has been on the cards for a long time now and was granted a National Project Status in 2007 and the sad reality is that up to now, 14 years later, nothing has come out except for talk only. It is high time Government moves away from what I call NATO: ‘No Action but Talk Only’. According to findings, Zimbabwe’s gas reserves are estimated to be more than those of other countries in the region. It is estimated that Zimbabwe has more than 40 trillion Cubic Feet of potentially recoverable gas in Lupane-Lubimbi area. This is a clear indication that we are sitting on billions of dollars.

This project will guarantee investment in Poverty Eradication, Education, Health, Job Creation and Economic Development particularly in Lupane District in line with the Devolution Agenda where power must be devolved to local communities to facilitate equal development. This project is a massive investment that will, to a large extent, transform the Zimbabbwe economy in synch with Vision 2030 where Government envisages achieving an Upper-Middle Income Economy Status. Methane gas is mostly used for power generation and fertilizer production.

First of all, I would like to talk about power generation. The truth of the matter is that we have an energy crisis in Zimbabwe. This is so because our grid is unable to generate enough electricity to meet the national demand. At the same time, we cannot pay for adequate power imports owing to foreign currency shortages. Meanwhile, the total demand for electricity is currently around 2030 megawatts, whereas the supply is only around 1200 megawatts; meaning we have a deficit of around 1830 megawatts, hence the reason why we are importing 35% of Zimbabwe Power from South African and Mozambique. On the other hand, most of the people in rural areas use firewood for cooking, causing deforestation. According to the Forestry Commission, Zimbabwe is losing about 330 000 hectares of forests annually. If the situation continues without being addressed, we will end up with no forest at all.

This is pointing to the urgent need for Government to develop a clear strategy on how to extract gas in Lupane-Lubimbi area. Methane gas is only used for the production of fertilizer. The sad reality is that currently we are importing fertilizer. In 2020, Zimbabwe imported fertilizer to the tune of US$235 million. This money can build up to 2350 schools at a cost of USD100 000 each and this will translate into 180 schools in all the 13 districts in Matabeleland North and about 12 schools in each of the 193 wards in Matabeleland North. This will result in children not having to walk for more than 5 km every day going to school.

I am raising these issues to demonstrate the urgent need for the extraction of coal-bed methane gas in Lupane-Lubimbi area. It is therefore of paramount importance that this project is kick-started so that we stop importing fertilizer and energy spending billions of dollars which can be invested in other areas such as education, health, water and sanitation just to mention a few. In view of this, I am therefore calling on Government as a matter of urgency, to look for a big investor on a Build Operate and Transfer (B.O.T) agreement so that the investor deposits about 10-15 billion USD to the country and be allowed to harvest the gas for about 20-25 years and then transfer to Government.

Priority must be given to locals like Mr. Strive Masiyiwa because they understand our situation very well and recently, he became the first black billionaire to break into the Sunday Times Rich list. This 10-15 billion dollars project must be injected into agriculture, manufacturing and       mining sectors which will in turn, boost our economy and generate the much needed jobs and foreign currency. This money will also be used to clear our debt arrears so that we start to operate a normal economy.

Development is not Rocket Science, but development is about copying from others. It is about discovering what others did to improve their economies. It is high time we discover what other countries did with their mineral resources in building strong economies. A case in point is Angola. They looked for a big investor for their oil on a B.O.T. basis but look at where they are now. Dubai was a desert but look at what they did with their oil. They turned their country into an attraction for everyone because they took advantage of their God given mineral resource.

Zimbabwe used to be the Jewel of Africa. It used to be the bread basket of Africa. It used to be the envy of the whole world. We want Zimbabwe to return to its former glory and this can only happen if we expand our energy in finding a big investor who will start to tap into the untapped lucrative coal-bed methane gas in Lupane-Lubimbi area so that it changes the fortunes of Zimbabwe in order for our beautiful country to become great again and give every Zimbabwean a better life. Let us take advantage of our God given mineral resource.

In order to get maximum profit from our God given resources, it is of great importance that mechanisms be put in place to ensure that there is transparency in the extraction of this particular lucrative mineral resource. There is an urgent need for Zimbabwe to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (E.I.T.I.) a global standard for the good governance of mineral resources.

Once we become a member of the ( E.I.T.I.) there is going to be guarantee of information along the value chain beginning with the point of extraction to how the revenue gets to Government and how it is ploughed back to the communities. This will have a multiplier effect in that we are all going to benefit from our God given mineral resources

That same revenue gets to Government and how that same revenue is ploughed back to the communities. Once that happens, there is going to be a multiplier effect such that we are all going to enjoy our God given mineral resource.

I would like to conclude by saying there is not even a single person who was born poor. Every person was born with their own potential but people are poor because of institutions that are built by Government. People are poor because of systems that are created by Government. People are poor because of policies that are formulated by Government.  Mr. Speaker Sir, if Government was to build good institutions, create good systems and formulate good policies, every person will be able to explore their potential and have capacity to cultivate personal growth and the growth of their countries towards the developmental path.  I therefore would like to urge Government to please build good strong institutions around this project.  Can you please create good systems of governance around this project?  Can you please formulate good investor policies around this project so that we attract a big investor who will come and invest in this big mineral resource and give us billions of dollars?  This will transform this economy so that it becomes a giant once more and that every person in this country has a better life.

Lastly, I hope and trust that Government will give priority to this project which has been on the cards for a long time so that it moves away from being just a dream but becomes reality.  Government must walk the talk and talk the walk in regards to this project.  Within six months, we want to see something happening in Lupane.  We want to see gas oozing out Mr. Speaker Sir.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to end by a quote from our great icon, the late Tata Madiba who said “It always seems impossible until it is done”.  Yes, it might seem impossible to find a big investor who will kick start the long awaited project, but the bottom line is that it can be done, yes, it can.  We can get an investor to come and invest in this lucrative project which has been lying idle without being tapped.  We want an investor to tap into the untapped lucrative methane gas so that we create billions of dollars, we create jobs for our people, and that every Zimbabwean will have a better life.  I rest my case.

Source: The Insider

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