Fungi Kwaramba, Zimpapers Elections Desk
THE adoption of a rapid results approach by the Second Republic was on display yesterday as President Mnangagwa commissioned a US$300 million-lithium plant that was constructed in a record nine months and is testimony to the successes of President Mnangagwa’s policies.
When he came to power in 2018, the President declared Zimbabwe is Open for Business, and embraced the whole world with his pillar foreign policy of “Friend to all and enemy to none” through Engagement and Re-engagement, both policies are bearing fruit across the country as investors flock into the country attracted by the ease of doing business and an investor-friendly environment.
The signature project also demonstrates that even against any odds Zanu-PF is unstoppable in its quest to ensure the country becomes an upper middle-income economy by 2030, through development that leaves no one and no place behind. Yesterday, the President commissioned the Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe (PLZ) Spodumene, Palatine, and Tantalum Processing Plant in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East province as he continues to deliver on his pledge of delivering development that leaves no one and no place behind.
“I recall that in November 2018, we convened here, when this area was merely an empty field, for the groundbreaking ceremony commencing initial work at this site. In June 2021, we were back here to commission the Pilot Petalite Processing Plant, which was a precursor to this bigger and more advanced processing plant with a total capacity of 4,5 million tonnes per year,” he said.
“As we look back, Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe is one of the many testimonies of the successes of the Second Republic under the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra and Engagement and Re-Engagement Policy.
“This was augmented by the bold decision made by my Administration in 2017 to adopt the Ease of Doing Business reforms as well as the Rapid Results Approach to project implementation”.
Due to the improved investment and business operating environment, the country has been witnessing unprecedented levels of investment as well as a fast pace of project implementation, similar to the one that was commissioned by President Mnangagwa yesterday.
The mining sector, in particular, has been on the growth trajectory as new mines are being opened while disused ones are recommissioned, on top of that Government is strict on value addition and beneficiation.
Thus, the sector has grown from a US$2.8 billion economy in 2018 to a US$12 billion industry making Zimbabwe one of the most attractive mining jurisdictions in the world.
“This investment will undoubtedly contribute to the mining sector targets set out in the National Development Strategy as well as our country’s overall national Vision 2030,” he said.
“Further, as a company, you are answering my Government’s call to realise economic growth, value addition, and beneficiation, as well as diversity through increased production and productivity in the mining sector.
“In keeping with the Lithium Ore Policy, the Spodumene, Petalite and Tantalum Processing Plant being commissioned today is an important building block for the ongoing modernisation and industrialisation agenda. The investment will further promote the domestication of value addition and beneficiation of lithium ore”.
Added to that, the President said the investment, which has created jobs for more than 3000 people, and led to the transformation of the community through the construction of roads, schools, improvement of livelihoods and other critical infrastructure, is a vote of confidence in Zimbabwe.
“The intrinsic benefits include employment and empowerment opportunities, increased revenue, economic and most importantly, the growth of our country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“I call on the company to draw from its existing expertise and the resource endowments within our SADC region, to eventually manufacture lithium batteries and other components here in our country.
“I want to particularly congratulate Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe for completing the construction of the plant in record time. This resonates with the rapid results culture of my Government, and speaks volumes about the work ethic of this entity. Makorokoto. Amhlophe.”
The company has among other things engaged in community health and educational programmes, capacity building and skills transfer, sustainable environment management, infrastructure development, sport development as well as humanitarian assistance, under its Corporate Social Responsibility projects.
Over the past two decades Zimbabwe has been under baneful Western-imposed economic sanctions however through its relations with China, under the Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership, the country has been able to burst most of the sanctions.
The President said his Government stands ready to welcome more Chinese investors and those from other jurisdictions on a win-win basis particularly in the fields of science, technology, and innovation to leapfrog Zimbabwe’s industrialisation and modernisation agenda.
The President was accompanied by Vice President Chiwenga, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando, other Cabinet ministers, and senior Government officials.
In his speech, the chairman of Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe Mr George Fung commended President Mnangagwa for creating an investor-friendly environment and pledged to add value to the lithium mined in Zimbabwe so that the country becomes a major player in the green energy revolution.
“We thank the Government for the facilitation for us to find a home in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe is our home and indeed Zimbabwe is Open for Business. We are delighted that our modest investment will help Zimbabwe achieve its vision to become an upper-middle-class economy,” said Mr Fang.
Villagers in Goromonzo hailed the investment as a game-changer that has already transformed their lives for the better.
Mrs Esther Marufu, an A1 farmer in Goromonzi thanked PLZ for changing the face of the local primary school.
“The school has undergone a complete transformation. I have two children at Vhuta Primary, one is in ECD and the other is in Grade 6. They are both receiving quality education, which is way better than what they were getting before. This is all because of PLZ. In addition to the school, we can see several new roads being built and other infrastructure development taking place. We are also happy that in all these projects the company is giving employment to people from Goromonzi, thus ensuring that our youths are gainfully employed and can deist from social vices such as drug and alcohol abuse.”
Another villager Mrs Pellagia Mutekezi said she was excited by many projects that have come with the mining company.
“The lithium company built us a beautiful school, I think it is the most beautiful school here in Goromonzi. They also built teachers’ houses that are tiled and equipped with solar geysers. We are very excited with the way lithium is improving our community and it is creating employment for our youths,” said Mrs Mutekezi.
Zimbabwe continues to attract investors that are helping in its modernisation and industrialisation, with PLZ’s parent company, Huayou being a multinational corporation with a revenue base of more than US$48 billion and a market value of over US$100 billion, ranking among the top 500 enterprises in China.