Gweru(The Times-New Ziana) -President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday pledged government support to artisanal miners so that they make meaningful contribution towards the vision of making the mining sector a $12 billion industry by 2023.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe Miners Federation annual general meeting and inaugural conference in Gweru, President Mnangagwa said artisanal miners were pivotal in the realisation of the $12 billion industry vision.
“We have a vision that the mining industry will be a $12 billion industry by 2023 and for us to reach that goal, there are steps that should be taken by the government but it is you (artisanal miners) who will get us there,” he said.
“We will empower you so that we get to $12 billion.”
At the moment, mining is contributing 13 percent to the Gross Domestic Product, as well as 60 percent of export earnings while attracting 50 percent of foreign direct investment.
President Mnangagwa said the government had a fund which was aimed at capacitating artisanal miners.
“We no longer want the pick and shovel type of mining,” he said.
“We have a fund which is now at $20 million and we will help you to mechanise so that production increases,” he said, adding miners should form organised groups so that they access the funding.
He castigated corruption within the government and machete violence in the mining areas.
President Mnangagwa said any government official caught on the wrong side of the law would be dismissed.
Lawlessness, like illegal mining in sacred communal areas under the jurisdiction of chiefs, would not be tolerated as that had potential to violate culture and heritage, he said.
He said machete gangs that used force to drive away legitimate mine owners would not be tolerated and anyone caught with a machete would be prosecuted.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the ZMF conference came a few weeks after President Mnangagwa launched the $12 billion milestone by 2023.
He said the milestone would be achieved with the support of artisanal miners.
Chitando said his Ministry had created a desk which was dedicated to looking at issues affecting small scale miners.
ZMF president Henrieta Rushwaya gave a chronology of challenges that their members are facing.