The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe is expected to advocate the beneficiation and value addition of natural resources in Southern Africa during its one-year tenure as Southern African Development Community (SADC) chair. The country will assume the post in August when it hosts the regional bloc’s Heads of State Summit.
President Mugabe is the present Deputy SADC Chair.
Last week, Cabinet approved the Summit theme “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development”. SADC countries are the world’s leading producers of minerals such as diamonds, platinum and gold. Majestic tourist attractions, expansive wildlife resources, favourable agricultural land and a convenient climate make up the region’s natural splendour.
It is believed all these natural resources, although largely untapped, can be harnessed to contribute to regional economic development. Officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that the theme was adopted following the realisation that the region was yet to translate its natural resources into meaningful economic growth.
“The rationale behind the theme is that it is relevant to the status quo. In SADC, we have all the natural resources that one can think of, but we are not leveraging on these resources for economic development.
“We also need to find means to reduce exports of raw materials by adding value to our resources.”
The officials said foreign ministers from the region will jet into the country soon to attend preparatory meetings leading to the Summit.
A National Standing Committee, chaired by Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula, is co-ordinating the preparations. Ten sub-committees, chaired by Cabinet ministers, are also working towards the Summit, which takes place in Victoria Falls on August 17 and 18.