The speech that got Supa Mandiwanzira accused of bootlicking Mnangagwa





Former Information, Communication and Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has been accused of bootlicking President Emmerson Mnangagwa by showering praises on him during his contribution yesterday to the President’s State of the Nation Address.

Was Mandiwanzira bootlicking? Here is what he said:

HON. MANDIWANZIRA: Thank you Madam Speaker for allowing me to contribute to the motion on the State of the Nation address by His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa. I would like to thank Hon. Mutambisi who raised the motion as well as Hon. T. Moyo who seconded the motion.

By just listening to His Excellency’s address, you cannot miss the clarity, vision, trajectory and the progress that the country is on under the New Dispensation. Clearly, the address by His Excellency demonstrated the Government’s commitment and serious determination for economic progress. Not only was the statement powerful in itself but it also had many examples of real milestones that the Government has achieved in taking the country forward, that the majority of the people in here would agree with me that we are moving from one point to another on an uphill trajectory.

I would like to first of all, in terms of the content, applaud His Excellency for highlighting the import substitution strategy as well as the local content policy. I believe this is an important area if we are going to see more development in our country and by highlighting it, His Excellency was very clear that this is the direction that we need to go; that we must see more local products that are being made by locals on the supermarket shelves.  I believe that Zimbabweans in the private sector, politically active and non-politically active, if we unite in supporting this policy by the President, we can achieve far much more.

Madam Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to call upon the Government to support an aggressive implementation of this policy.  Not only can we achieve success economically but we can substitute imports or substitute the exportation of dividends by ensuring that a lot of the products are being made locally.  I am going to give you an example; I am a Member of Parliament for Nyanga South Constituency and in Nyanga South, we have some of the most attractive tourist destinations, among them the Troutbeck Resort and Montclair.  I am sure most Hon. Members of Parliament have been there and enjoyed the hospitality.  However, when you walk in there, they will give you water coming from Harare, purified Harare water, yet you will be in an area which probably has the most amount of natural springs in the country.  Those natural springs produce pure water that has export value.

I believe that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, through the budget process, must make available resources for the importation of machinery for water bottling for every district that has those springs.  How do we help the economy by doing that?  We have a lot of big investors who have come from outside the country to bottle our water so we can drink it.  They purify our Harare water, they sell it to us, when they get their profits, they change the money and ship those profits outside the country yet we can employ our young Zimbabweans in Nyanga and many other districts where we have water to produce water for consumption by Zimbabweans.  I am sure we have water in every district.

Not only are we substituting imports, we are creating employment and make sure that we do not export foreign currency that is made by those who are profiteering.  We have invested in water bottling in our country.  However, for that to happen, I believe that the Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, can actually come up with a package that basically says, we are going to import for every district, a water bottling plant that must produce water that will be consumed by Members of Parliament when they are attending a workshop at Montclaire or Troutbeck Resort.  I think it is embarrassing to have water coming from Harare so that the people in Nyanga can drink, yet we have the finest water that is reputed in the country.  I believe that the President’s vision can be supported in this particular way.

The same applies to timber; we have huge forestry in Nyanga but we buy furniture in Harare, from China and South Africa.  When you look at the price of some of the machinery to produce furniture, it is not expensive.  When we look at the work that is being done by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education in terms training the skills that are able to use basic machinery to produce furniture and when you go to some of the most active industrial places here in Harare, you will see individuals making furniture. It will honestly be embarrassing that we are importing furniture.

Perhaps in support of the President’s vision, we need resources which are directly targeted at all districts where there is timber to produce locally and supply locally.  Therefore, we will be supporting His Excellency’s vision which he spoke about in the State of the Nation Address, that we must continue the efforts towards import substitution and making sure that we are producing to avoid the continued outflow of foreign currency.

We have investors who have come in my district for instance, to cut timber.  Locals are hiring equipment in order to cut that timber but I believe that we can, in support of His Excellency’s vision that he clearly articulated in the State of the Nation Address, make resources available to our young men and women who are in desperate need of employment to buy the machinery, make available the foreign currency in order for them to be able to import the machinery for the timber harvesting happening in these areas. I go back again to the point that some of these basic areas, if we allow foreigners to come and invest in them, it is their right to make the profits and ship them out of the country.  However, this can be saved and we keep them in our country if we allow our locals to do that because this is not sophisticated investment.  I believe that the President’s vision as articulated in his address can be supported through some of these strategies.

This policy can be super-successful because we have the skills.  We have the resources that we are producing but we are not converting them and the link is not yet there between what the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education is doing and producing excellent human resources and the financing to make sure that those excellent human resources are employing themselves and being employed in industries in which we have the resources.  I spoke of Nyanga but the timber industry can be promoted in Chimanimani District, in Matebeleland Region where we have hard wood timber which is huge in terms of the export market.

His Excellency the President, Cde. Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa spoke about how the Government is investing and scaling up power generation and this in line with the attraction of investment in our country.  We must attract investment in Zimbabwe and if Zimbabwe is open for business, which it is as the President has made it very clear through that mantra, we must invest in infrastructure, which allows investment to be able to exist.  So the President is not just talking, he is demonstrating that we were not just talking about being open for business. We are putting the building blocks to ensure that those who are coming to invest have access to the power that they require. We must applaud His Excellency the President and the Government for that effort.  He mentioned in his address that investment is going into Hwange to make sure that we produce more thermal power because we have huge resources of coal and we still have the time to make use of our coal to generate the electricity that we require.

At the same time, the Government has also been promoting the use of solar energy and we must continue to support the Government and His Excellency on the need to use solar energy.  Here lies another opportunity that we are missing which I believe all of us as Zimbabweans, Government, Parliamentarians and the private sector should actually take the lead in promoting.  If we walk around to see who are the biggest importers of solar equipment, solar panels, batteries, lithium and gel batteries, they are non- Zimbabweans, they are investors who are coming from the countries where they are manufacturing that equipment.

So where is the opportunity in the solar value chain for locals?  For sustainable development to take place and for us to support the President fully in his vision, I believe that we need to make sure that there are resources being directed either by the Government or by industry towards the support of domestic retail industry, particularly where you are retailing imported products.

Madam Speaker, I cannot understand why it is not possible to make sure that the banks are given a particular amount of money or a fund is put in place where young people, groups of women, able-bodied men are able to access those facilities in order to import the solar equipment and we roll-out a huge solar energy system in our country.  Again, as long as we are going to allow those who manufacture in their countries to come and also retail them in our country, we are letting go the opportunity of keeping that foreign currency that they make as profit in this country – we are allowing it to leave the country.  It is their right when they have invested in the country to take that foreign currency out, but we can avoid it because there is nothing sophisticated about selling solar panels and there is nothing sophisticated about selling lithium batteries.  Our young people coming out of colleges and universities are able to do that but what they require is an enabling facility to be able to do that.   I think that we can support His Excellency’s vision through that specific focus where funds, either through the budget or through incentives to the financial sector, are put in place to make sure that they are accessed by locals who want to be in this business of importing and deploying solar infrastructure.

Madam Speaker, the President must be applauded for he spoke during his State of the Nation Address about the growth of the mining industry.  He spoke about the $12 billion mining industry that we are targeting and we are seeing a lot of the work that the President is doing, commissioning new mines that have been revived, new projects – Greenfield projects and Brownfield projects.  So we must applaud the President and his Ministers for the work that is being done.  As we do this, we must support the President by ensuring that this $12 billion economy in the mining sector is not only shared by the big investors who are coming from outside the country.  The Zimbabweans in the communities where these resources are coming from must equally see and benefit from that $12 billion economy.

For many years, we have had this impression that building a school, putting up a road, power line, internet access and a clinic is community investment.  This is self-interest investment because you find that the mining houses themselves benefit from that infrastructure, so they are doing it partially for themselves, and at the same time for the community.  I believe, in support of His Excellency’s vision, we need to get to a point where we say, this is not recognised as community reinvestment but community reinvestment must be something that is sustainable.  If you are extracting huge resources out of this country and making billions or hundreds and millions of dollars or tens of millions of dollars, we need to see something within the community that will be sustainable…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Mandiwanzira, you are left with five minutes.

HON. MANDIWANZIRA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  So I believe that we must then start to encourage the investment.  As we are attracting this $12 billion, we must begin to see investment that is going towards building of dams and irrigation schemes.  I was most impressed Madam Speaker, to see an initiative launched by His Excellency the President with Zimplats –a lot of cattle, that is sustainable community reinvestment.  You can tell that the mine is not putting anything of self interest in the community; it is really empowering the community.  I am saying that the opportunity is now.

Zimbabwe is an attractive destination because of the huge mineral resources that we have.  When we have these huge mineral resources, this is the best time that we have to call for our pound of flesh nekuti munhu wese arikuda kuuya kuno uku Madam Speaker because arikuziva kuti tine coal ne lithium yakawanda.  This is the time we must say, tirikuda zvakati, our price must go up.  We must say, okay you can access our lithium but we are expecting you to build a dam in that area, you can access our lithium but we expect you to build a hospital and not just a small clinic because the hospital will always be there to assist the community.

Madam Speaker, in support of His Excellency’s vision, I believe the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development can also look at how we issue claims.  How we allow people to access claims – I think it must be the right of locals to access claims easily but …

[Time Limit.]

HON. T. MOYO:  On a point of Order Madam Speaker!  My point of order arises from that fact that we want the Hon. Member to be given an additional five minutes on top of the five minutes that you had ruled.

Motion put and agreed to.

HON. MANDIWANZIRA:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  I would also like to thank the Hon. Member for his gesture and the generosity that I be awarded more time.  I really appreciate.

Madam Speaker, the point I was making is that when we are on top of the world in terms of resources and everybody is interested in what we have, it cannot be business as usual. We really need to put our price tag up so that we are benefiting in this time where we are on demand.  If you are on demand or when a product is on demand, the price must go up.  So in this particular case, I believe our price to the investors who are coming must be up so that our communities really get to benefit.  Our price must be up so that our locals have the advantage – I was making the point around how mining claims are accessed.

I come from Nyanga.  Two years ago, I went to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, a whole range that has potential gold had been pegged.  I went to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and said, ‘I have not seen any mining activity in this area, who is mining?’  There was a company with a very foreign name and the officials confirmed that it was a non-Zimbabwean – two and a half years later, the place is still like that.  It means that the potential answer is that they are speculating.  I believe it is fair for Zimbabweans to speculate because it is their country but if we have foreigners who are coming to speculate, peg huge areas, do not allow locals to access that space, they go in just looking for other investors or to sell to others and no progress is taking place in the country.  I think that it is an unfair advantage – it is disadvantaging our people.

I believe that when commodity prices are very high and are in demand as they are at the moment, perhaps the Minister may consider to support His Excellency’s vision to say, well for Zimbabweans, it is business as usual.  If you want to peg an area, just do as you have always done, but if you are a foreigner because it is not the same anywhere else in the world to get a mining claim like it is easy to get a mining claim here for a foreigner, we must then say we are welcoming investors and we would like foreigners to come and get as much claims as possible in order for them to exploit it so that they do not speculate.  We must also be able to put a system that says, put USD$250 000.00 in a secure deposit at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in order to get the licence to go and peg our ground.  If they do not exploit that resource for three years, that is okay because their money is sitting at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and is being used to sustain our economy.  It can only be done now when we are attractive.

I am suggesting Madam Speaker, that as we support His Excellency’s vision, clarity as expressed in his State of the Nation Address, we must take advantage of some of these opportunities that are being brought about by the attractiveness of our country as a result of the resources that we have.  Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa spoke about the agricultural output, particularly the almost 210 million kgs of tobacco that has been produced by our farmers.  We must applaud those farmers for doing a great job; they are earning the country a lot of foreign currency.  It made me think about some complaints I have heard from industry where the complaints, whether justified or unjustified, that there is one company or there is one bank that has monopolised Command Agriculture and I am saying if there is foreign currency that can be made from tobacco, if our farmers, wherever they are, are able to produce 210kg of tobacco, why are we not having those who are interested to come in and start command tobacco farming?  Put your own money there and earn the forex.  So we have opportunities to support His Excellency’s vision through the private sector, through financial institutions and not complain about others, but to take our own space and occupy that space as Zimbabweans in support of the vision and clarity that His Excellency the President expressed through the State of the Nation Address.

So command tobacco is an opportunity, command soya beans is an opportunity.  If we complain that so and so was given everything, why do we not go on to tobacco because I have not heard of command tobacco but it is said the forex is there.  I think if we open and broaden our minds as Zimbabweans, we will see opportunities and we can take the country forward.

Madam Speaker, in conclusion and as I commend His Excellency’s State of the Nation Address and debate it, I would like to point out the fact that while a lot of this development is taking place, a lot of the foreign companies, foreign contractors will come and get opportunities in our country, which is fantastic.  They will impart their skills and share their technologies with our local people.  That is excellent.  At the same time, we have also seen how the Government has demonstrated its commitment and belief in our local contractors, especially as we drive along the Harare-Masvingo to Beitbridge Road that the locals equally have the capacity and can do it.  The Government must be applauded for that, but where foreigners are getting contracts, I believe it is important to support sustainable development that there must be a strict rule that a certain percentage of that value of the contract is spent on locals because it is very possible that a company from country X will be granted a contract to do a road.  Everything on that road – equipment, Bitumen will come from that X country.  We have seen examples of even food coming from that X country, and I am not talking about any particular individual country.  It can be any country, but unless we put strict rules that say if you get a $100 million contract, 40% you have to spend on locals, you have a chance that the contractor will not look for an investor from X country who is making quarry so that they can buy from them.  They will look for a local who is making quarry to buy from them and that way, we can achieve sustainable development.  That is what I would like to encourage as I debate the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency the President.

Madam Speaker, as I end, I would like to thank His Excellency on the success of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out that this country has seen and experienced.  That success is phenomenal and it is being celebrated everywhere.  I believe Madam Speaker, something that has not been pointed out is the fact that it is the success of our foreign policy that has seen part of that successful roll-out.  It is the relationship this Government has built with the People’s Republic of China why we have been able to access sinovac and sinopharm and for Zimbabweans, I think it is a reason to celebrate.  China was the first country to publicly acknowledge the existence of the Coronavirus within its shores.  I did not say it started in China, but I said China was the first country to publicly acknowledge, which means they have taken the time to understand this virus and develop vaccines that are able to deal significantly with this virus. Thus, we have been able to access these vaccines and roll-out to the extent that this Government has rolled out, is good reason to thank and celebrate the efforts of President, Cde Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa.  I thank you Madam Speaker.