Cletus Mushanawani Mash Central Bureau
MASHONALAND Central has identified agriculture and minerals as the major economic drivers which the province will leverage on in the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Stakeholders interviewed said innovation through information technologies was also the way to go to improve the performance of all economic sectors.
In a recent interview, Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Cde Monica Mavhunga gave the devolution agenda a thumbs-up.
“The devolution agenda is now gathering momentum and we have embraced it here in the province.
“We are in the process of carrying out a resources audit so that we have a clear picture of what the province is endowed with. We want to ensure that there is both political and economic independence of our people in Mash Central,” she said.
Acting provincial administrator Mr Richard Chipfuva said the devolution locomotive had gathered pace and no longer unstoppable.
“Things are taking shape as new structures are already in place starting with this office. The office of the provincial administrator will be abolished and replaced by the office of the provincial development coordinator (chief provincial director). The mandate of the new office is to co-ordinate all provincial structures. The office will have two directors, one who will be in charge of the supervision of local authorities and the other one will be in charge of economic developments in the province,” he said.
Mr Chipfuva said having identified agriculture and minerals as the key economic drivers in the province, two key stakeholders meeting would be held today and May 16 respectively.
“We will be having a Smart Agriculture Conference at Chaminuka Vocational Centre on May 16, where about 500 farmers will be in attendance. The revival of the agriculture industry in the province will have a great impact on other downstream industries.
“We want to move away from the traditional farming methods and embrace ICTs in agriculture. Innovations through ICTs will improve our yields and employment will be created in the process. This is the way to go because agriculture is the major economic driver here. Gone are the days on farming on vast tracts of land. We should fully utilise the available land,” he said.
Mr Chipfuva said a date was yet to be set to identify other key areas that have the potential to improve the provincial Gross Domestic Product.
“We are moving in the right direction and we are happy with the buy-in we are receiving from all stakeholders. Everyone wants to play his or her role in ensuring the success of the devolution agenda in the province. Unlike in the past when talk-shows used to dominate national programmes, we want to reap from the low-hanging fruits as soon as possible to show our seriousness,” he said.
On mineral resources, Mr Chipfuva said the province was endowed with minerals like gold, nickel and now the recently discovered oil and gas in Muzarabani.
“Another indaba has been lined up in Shamva on April 30 (today)were all stakeholders in the mining industry will converge. Shamva was strategically chosen because Metallon Gold, which runs Mazowe and Shamva mines, is saddled with a lot of challenges affecting their full production.
“The converging of like-minds in that sector will help in finding solutions to the challenges affecting that industry. We expect them to look at their past, current and future operations and proffer solutions to the identified challenges. We want all mines to come back to life and contribute to the provincial GDP,” he said.
Mr Chipfuva bemoaned mineral leakages in the provincial through illegal activities of artisanal miners.
“As a province we are losing out a lot of revenue through mineral leakages especially gold. We want to find ways of having organised mining by these artisanal miners so that their produce finds its way to Fidelity Printers (and Refiners) and contribute both to the provincial and national GDP. If the money we are losing is put to good use, it will be a different story here,” he said.
Chairman of the provincial chief executive officers’ forum, Mr Paradzai Munyede, said a lot of progress had been made in terms of sensitising all stakeholders on the devolution agenda.
“Noone is being left behind. All the organised meetings have gone according to the script and there is a lot of enthusiasm from everyone involved. Everyone now understands his or her role in this devolution matrix. Everything regarding devolution has been properly explained to all stakeholders.
“What is needed to be speeded up is the release of money for the identified projects. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has committed to release funds towards devolution and this should be speeded up for us to achieve the Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy,” he said.
Mr Munyede said they had prioritised the implementation of projects in education, health and water and sanitation sectors.
“Although we are still to have the actual figures on how devolution will contribute to the provincial GDP, we have prioritised the fast implementation of projects in key sectors like education, health and water and sanitation. From our last meetings, various Government departments were tasked to come up with actual figures on how each sector will contribute to the provincial GDP.
“We want to have comparisons in future on how we are doing in terms of achieving what we would have agreed upon as our GDP. We do not want the thumb-sucking of figures because this will not help us in planning,” he said.