Former Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Minister Simba Mudarikwa says some of the economic policies Zimbabwe has passed, especially through statutory instruments, make it appear as if the government enjoys seeing its people wallowing in poverty because they make it so difficult for citizens to benefit from their God-given natural resources.
Mudarikwa, who was axed from his post during the purge of suspected former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s supporters, said one had to pay $4 000 to register as a prospector, yet in South Africa one only paid R500 (less than $40).
A prospecting licence cost a further $5 000 and if you wanted to mine diamonds the licence cost $1 million.
“When you want to export; export brings new money to the economy, you will have to pay an export licence of US$10 000 per quarter, which is US$40 000 per year….. If you want to store explosives at your mine, you must pay US$5 000.00, a licence just for keeping explosives,” he said.
To get a mining permit in a national park, one had to cough up $4 000. With the current power shortages, if you want to import a generator to augment your electricity, the Environment Management Authority (EMA) asks you to pay $9 000 per quarter or $36 000 a year for the emission of that generator.
“The same EMA issued out a licence for me to carry fertilizer to the mine. They now categorise fertilizer as a hazardous substance. Since when has ammonium nitrate been a hazardous substance? I started seeing it when I was a small boy. It was there but it is now being categorised as a dangerous hazardous substance.
“You have to pay a permit of US$500.00 and also pay another storage permit of US$600.00. What we are looking at is how do we get investors coming into a country where left, right and centre, you continue paying? The idea of establishing a business is to make profits,” he said.
Mudarikwa said the ease of doing business that the government was now calling for by introducing some 14 bills to deal with the economy must not just benefit foreigners. They must benefit locals because even during the struggle people used to say, “we are our own liberators”.
“We must also look at the immediate benefits for the people of Zimbabwe. Economy is not about foreigners, it is about the Zimbabweans. In the struggle, we used to say none but ourselves. We are our own liberators. We must also be our own economic liberators,” he said.
He also said that the government must not allow the wholesale importation of products like vegetables which were also grown in the country. He said people were importing things like tomatoes from South Africa yet when he tried to export tomatoes to South Africa he was told bluntly that Pretoria did not allow that.
“We must be able to control our borders because you cannot come from Zimbabwe and sell something in South Africa, they will not accept it. All these supermarkets which are importing products from South Africa, my good advice to them is that they must also import customers. They must bring buses of people from South Africa to come and buy from them. We have agreed with our people, one of the major vegetable importers which have opened shops all over Harare. We are going to organise a demonstration. Our people are going there to beat drums over night, putting tomatoes at the gate so that they can see that we have the capacity to produce these vegetables. Money must not be allowed to leave this country when we have got the things,” he said.
MR. MUDARIKWA: Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for allowing me to present my response to the Address by His Excellency the President and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. I would also want to thank Hon. Mutomba for his response.
The issue at stake which I want to deal with is the ease of doing business. How do we fare as a nation when we want to do business and what is business? Business is the ability of converting resources for your personal benefit and national benefit. As a country, we have put certain laws that make us admire poverty when you admire poverty; you are a victim of your own ignorance. Statutory Instruments in this country are now being used to amend the Principal Acts. We have minerals in this country where everybody who is able-bodied will be able to do something on those minerals but they cannot do anything because of the challenges that I am going to explain now. For example, Statutory Instrument 56 of 2014 sets a figure of US$4 000 to be paid by somebody who is a prospector. If you want to register as a prospector, you must pay US$4 000 which is equivalent to R5000 and yet the same situation in South Africa, you only pay R500.
Then there is special prospecting licence for a particular area, again the figures are unheard of, you pay US$5 000. We have got diamonds in this country and they will never be put to use because nobody will ever come and mine diamonds here, unless that person is partnered with ZMDC. However, we want independent diamond miners; they have to fork out US$1 million to get a licence. This money is paid to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. When you want to export; export brings new money to the economy. You will have to pay an export licence of US$10 000 per quarter, which is US$40 000 per year and then there are these people who are milling gold serving our communities by mining gold in rural areas.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon. member! I would like to remind hon. members that if you are in this House, you are not supposed to attend to your cell phone. If I see any one doing that, I will not hesitate to send them out. At least, if you want to be listened to when debating, then listen to others whilst they are debating. Please respect others so that you will be also respected.
MR. MUDARIKWA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. In West Africa, when I went to Ghana, gold panning is taken as an issue that has to do with human rights because it is a poverty alleviation programme. How do we alleviate poverty? The first thing is to look around for resources that are available for our people to use, and that is gold. So, all these things do not come to Parliament, they come via Statutory Instruments. I am just giving you the critical ones. Mining involves explosions. If you want to store explosives at your mine, you must pay US$5 000.00, a licence just for keeping explosives. All this money does not go to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. After you have paid all this, in the event that you have discovered the minerals in National Parks, there is an element of double taxation.
The National Parks, Statutory Instrument 79 of 2015, Small Scale Active Miners; for them to get a mining permit, for example in Mupfurudzi Game Park, they have to pay US$4 000.00. Who can afford US$ 4 000.00? If you are to convert it into mombes in the rural areas, how many mombes do I have to give to Government for me to start mining? The issue that we also have to deal with as legislators, because His Excellency, the President emphasised on the ease of doing business. There is an element Madam Speaker of double taxation. Statutory Instrument 72 of 2009, what it now demands is that there is a shortage of electricity in this country. You will now import a generator to augment your electricity. EMA comes and say you have to pay for the emission of that generator, something like US$9 000 per quarter, which is US36 000.00 per year and yet when we import diesel, there is carbon tax which amounts to 0.013% of the amount of diesel that you have imported.
The same EMA issued out a licence for me to carry fertilizer to the mine. They now categorise fertilizer as a hazardous substance. Since when has ammonium nitrate been a hazardous substance? I started seeing it when I was a small boy. It was there but it is now being categorised as a dangerous hazardous substance. You have to pay a permit of US$500.00 and also pay another storage permit of US$600.00. What we are looking at is how do we get investors coming into a country where left, right and centre, you continue paying? The idea of establishing a business is to make profits. All this money is not regulated. These are some of the problems, the ease of doing business. As Parliament, we must have a situation where certain Statutory Instruments yes, have to come to the legal committee, but they must also go to the relevant committees that deal with that particular area.
Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President, on the 22 Bills, 14 of them are all economic Bills, which shows the desire and the need for economic development in Zimbabwe. It is our duty as hon. members to look at these things. Bills must not just pass through Parliament. We must look at them in different committees and see where our people are being disadvantaged. We must also look at the immediate benefits for the people of Zimbabwe. Economy is not about foreigners, it is about the Zimbabweans. In the struggle, we used to say none but ourselves. We are our own liberators. We must also be our own economic liberators.
All of us here must be saying I am doing something, am producing maize and I have got two dairy cows. I hear people are crying that things are tough. Yes, zvinhu zvaoma. We agree that things are expensive but in that process of expensive things in the cycle, what are you coming up with? What are you holding and say this is my product as Simbaneuta Mudarikwa and I want to sell it at this price. Those are the issues that we look at. Economic development is about collective responsibility. The other thing Madam Speaker that I have always mentioned in this august House is the propensity by our people of wanting to import. We have imported everything left, right and centre. We import tomatoes, sweet potatoes, magogoya and everything yet we have people from Mashonaland East, UMP, Mudzi, Mutoko, Seke, Chinamhora and Goromonzi who are producing equally better tomatoes than those coming from South Africa.
The disadvantage that we now have is that we have a strong dollar. Our dollar is working at US$1 is to R15. So anyone from South Africa comes and brings tomatoes to Mbare/Musika and sells them for US$1, has got R15. To him, he has made money. He removes R5 for transport and he remains with R10, which is a lot of money. But, our situation is different because of many hangers-on. It is now very difficult for our farmers to come from the communal lands because they have to pay a $1 which is R15 for transport. They expect to sell the same box of tomatoes at US$3 but, US$3 is R45. So we have a situation because the rand is weaker every day. The people in South Africa now prefer to sell most of their commodities. We must be able to control our borders because you cannot come from Zimbabwe and sell something in South Africa, they will not accept it.
All these supermarkets which are importing products from South Africa, my good advice to them is that they must also import customers. They must bring buses of people from South Africa to come and buy from them. We have agreed with our people, one of the major vegetable importers which have opened shops all over Harare. We are going to organise a demonstration. Our people are going there to beat drums over night, putting tomatoes at the gate so that they can see that we have the capacity to produce these vegetables. Money must not be allowed to leave this country when we have got the things.
The other thing Madam Speaker is that it is so important that Zimbabweans as a nation, work together to achieve certain objectives that benefit everybody. We must not be seen as hon. members when things that relate to the economy are being discussed, we just take things easy. Poverty must be your number one enemy because when you are poor and have no money in your pocket, if somebody says hey, you will say ah! Inini here, because you are not settled. So as hon. members, we must try our level best to do what His Excellency, the President is encouraging us to do to deal with these 14 economic Bills for the benefit of this country, for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe because the only way we can add value to our products is to make sure that the little bit that we produce is protected. There is nothing that is known as free trade. Free trade areas do not exist because I tried to export tomatoes to South Africa during the difficult times and the South African Government told me that they would not allow me to bring tomatoes into their country because they also had farmers who were producing tomatoes. The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce must never at any given time issue permits to import vegetables only. If there are no vegetables, let us not eat vegetables then we create a demand and a price. In economics, they say the more the demand then the price of the commodity increases, thereby benefitting our farmers.
Finally, there is the issue of GMB and our banks. GMB takes maize from the farmer but does not pay the farmer. How does it expect the farmer to go back to the field? I went to Mutoko for a funeral and though I am no longer a Minister, they still call me Minister. They were saying the Minister has arrived. – [Laughter]
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. member, you are left with 4 minutes.
MR. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The honour of being a minister Madam Speaker, I will never turn it down because once a minister you will always be a minister. They felt a senior Government official had arrived and their message had to go through to him. I was ready to accept their message and with your indulgence Madam Speaker, allow me just to sing what they were saying. They sang dzimba mbiri dzandakavenga mhanduwe, GMB, GMB nebank. -[Laughter]
So, they were expressing their anger on what GMB and the banks are doing to them. As a nation we must also realise that those people out there are 80% of our population and they also need money. When the money is available, we must ensure that the rural areas access the money first, so that they benefit. We must also have a process in place of securitizing. We have 5 million cattle in Zimbabwe and if we insure all the cattle, we can use that as collateral. Everybody will be able to borrow a minimum of US$5000 and then the nation can move forward. We do not want a situation where we have a corner with rich people and another corner with very hungry people. I do not believe in witchcraft but when you are enjoying yourself while you have a very poor neighbour and every night you dance to music and when you fry the aroma goes next door, obviously they will try something to deal with you. This is because there is no economic democracy, which can only be addressed by allowing our people to participate fully in the economy. His Excellency has laid this down to us as hon. members and it is our duty to map the way forward so as to benefit our people in our constituencies and in Zimbabwe as a whole.
I want to say thank you very much to those who were listening and to those who were not listening but were on their phones because they never disrupted my speech. Thank you very much.