It’s time to wise up

Source: It’s time to wise up | Sunday Mail (Opinion)

Implats, by virtue of having a controlling 87 percent stake in local platinum miner Zimplats, which is one of the country’s biggest foreign currency earners, has significant exposure to the local economy.

At the recent Johannesburg Mining Indaba, the company’s CEO, Nico Muller, gave a succinct assessment of what he thought of Zimbabwe’s business operating environment.

“Zimbabwe is the best jurisdiction to operate in: predictable operating environment, least disruption, best safety record, et cetera,” he said, adding: “I am happy that others see Zimbabwe as a risk. It allows us to continue expanding our interest there.”

This is not mere rhetoric, by the way.

The company is putting its money where its mouth is.

In December last year, it announced a staggering US$1,8 billion investment for its local operations, and the Zimplats board has since approved the US$201 million 180MW solar project that is part of the 10-year capital investment strategy.

Another miner, Caledonia, which controls Gwanda-based gold producer Blanket Mine, is presently enjoying rising throughput and revenues after it recently committed US$80 million – mainly from internal resources – to expand its operations.

It is now repeating bountiful rewards from that investment.

Likewise, in 2018, new investors took over Guruve-based Eureka Gold Mine and sank over US$40 million to resuscitate it, leading to its eventual commissioning by President Mnangagwa last year.

So news that gold deliveries in the January to April period this year have doubled to 10 tonnes is not in the least surprising.

Nor is news that the local mining sector generated more than US$5 billion last year.

It can only get better.

Speaking to a local TV channel last week, Institute of Mining Research chair Lyman Mlambo was actually bullish on future prospects.

“Confidence is there, so it is just a matter of time the sector forges ahead with increased production,” he said.

His optimism is clearly justified.

Everywhere one looks, investors are venturing into either greenfield or brownfield projects, including acquiring strategic interests.

Over the past year, we have seen cash-flush Chinese investors swooping on two lithium miners, Arcadia Lithium Mine and Bikita Minerals, spending more than US$700 million in the process.

A lot is actually happening in platinum, gold, coal, oil and gas, and rare earth minerals, among many other sub-sectors.

These are tell-tale signs that the Second Republic has managed to create an enabling environment where local businesses feel comfortable to start and expand their operations, while foreign investors are more than happy to spend their money on local mining projects.

Government has not made it a secret that it favours private sector-led economic growth, and it is quite clear that it is following through on its promise.

But, this trend is not peculiar to mining.

Just last week, the President commissioned a US$27 million investment into medical cannabis production by a Swiss company.

It is one of the 57 licence holders, who also include some US-based companies, given the prerogative and opportunity to participate in this evolving sector, whose global value has progressively risen to more than US$40 billion.

Yet when President Mnangagwa, through sheer perspicacity, legalised the production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes in April 2018, the decision was met with cynicism. The potential for this fledgling sector is immeasurably huge.

An international news agency reported last week that a 35-year-old Zimbabwean farmer is expecting a staggering US$2,5 million profit from his first harvest in August.

This is but a real-life anecdote of how visionary leadership can materially impact livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans; that is, if only they are alive to the endless possibilities and opportunities springing up around them.

The new political administration has been a breath of fresh air for entrepreneurs and those actively seeking opportunities.

One of its distinguishing characteristics is to be deliberately biased in giving preference to local companies for local projects.

For example, more than 11 local firms have been given contracts to undertake the historic laying of pipelines from Lake Gwayi-Shangani – set to be completed mid-year – to Bulawayo.

Similarly, local companies are rehabilitating the Harare to Bulawayo highway.

These are huge projects.

So there are plenty of opportunities that have been opened up by the current pro-business administration.

It is time for our youths to wise up and take advantage of what could probably be the golden era of investments in our time.

They need to shut out unhelpful chatter, lies and deception from ill-willed keyboard warriors, who invariably trash-talk anything Zimbabwean for their own selfish political ends at every turn, and focus on having the agency of taking part in the beautiful story that is being written by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans.

We cannot be left behind.

Of late, the country has been hosting business pilgrims, billionaires and other investors from as far as the UAE, India and South Korea, among others, who have been attracted by endless possibilities the country now presents.

It is that serious.

If locals are not careful, the choicest of opportunities will pass them by, only to be snapped up investors from other parts of the world.

The time is now!

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