THE indigenisation programme is set to roll out the empowerment drive in Manicaland that will soon result in the launch of community share ownership schemes for mining companies operating in the province.
Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said his ministry would soon be engaging foreign miners operating in and around Buhera to launch the community trusts.
"We will soon be engaging miners in this district such as Dorowa to ensure that the indigenous people here benefit from these operations. Some of these mines have been operating here for decades yet nothing has been accruing to the surrounding communities," he said.
The Dorowa Mine in Buhera produces phosphate. Other minerals produced in the district include vermiculite and beryl (Beryllium aluminium silicate).
Quarrying is also a common venture in Manicaland Province. Diamond production has also emerged as a major economic venture in Manicaland, especially in Chiadzwa.
Government has already set up a number of community share ownership schemes for the larger mining operations, namely platinum producers Mimosa, Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings and Unki.
Minister Kasukuwere also hinted that the setting up of a community share ownership scheme in the Marange area had been lined up. He said the broader establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund was currently underway.
Although Buhera serves as the administrative and commercial centre for the Save communal area, rains are very unreliable resulting in poor harvests. To this extent, the community can benefit from the area's rich mineral endowments.
Minister Kasukuwere was officiating at the launch of the Affirmative Action Group's new chapter in the district over the weekend. The AAG Buhera chapter is expected to play a key role in promoting trade and investment in Buhera and in Manicaland Province in general, in line with the objectives of Government's indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.
AAG Buhera Chapter chairman Mr Tinayo Kangai - son to Zanu-PF Politburo member Mr Kumbirai Kangai - said the new organisation had its work cut out.
"Empowerment is not an event, but a process. Our mandate here in Buhera is to economically empower the previously disadvantaged, with a special focus on the youth and women. This will be achieved and implemented through establishing development programmes that create employment opportunities," he said.
Buhera has the potential to become an economic hub in the country, however, businesses in the community face a number of challenges, including limited access to financing.
AAG chief executive Dr Davison Gomo said the new structure, which will be based at Murambinda Growth Point, will take advantage of Zimbabwe's local government infrastructure to drive the economic growth of the local community.
Businesspeople who were present at the launch expressed concern at the limited funding opportunities in the area.
They were also concerned about the closure of a CABS branch at the centre, which was one of the few banks operating in the district.
Minister Kasukuwere said his ministry would engage financial institutions to extend their services to rural communities, however, adding that these areas should create viable industries that attract capital
He also castigated foreign banks for holding onto money while local industry remained seriously undercapitalised.
"These foreign banks cannot wish to be in Zimbabwe when they behave as if they are in England. They tend to be very good in terms of taking deposits, but at the same time are very poor at lending.
"We also need to protect our local banks, which have been playing a critical role in empowering our people," he said.