By Magreth Nunuhe
Windhoek – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated his call for economic sanctions to be lifted against Zimbabwe so that the country can embrace democracy fully and firmly in order to move ahead.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the 25th Anniversary Mining Indaba held in Cape Town from 4 to 7 February. The annual event is dedicated to uniting investors, mining companies, governments and other stakeholders from around the world to learn and network, all towards the single goal of advancing mining on the continent.
President Ramaphosa made a similar call during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month where he reportedly said Zimbabwe faced serious economic challenges and needed to be assisted by lifting those sanctions.
Since 2000, the United States and the European Union have maintained sanctions against Zimbabwe.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa also urged sanctions to be lifted against Zimbabwe during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last year, but the United States maintains that significant human rights reforms are needed in that country.
Ramaphosa further stressed the need for governments across the continent to work together to develop infrastructure that facilitates integration of African economies and interregional value chains.
“Mining is not an isolated activity – it spans across a number of countries and a number of your companies operate on cross border basis,” he added, saying that the African Union’s the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a great development to create much more expanded market for more than a billion people.
He challenged the mining industry to stabilise and improve to become more conducive, saying his government was committed and prepared to listen to investors, labour market and communities.
“Significant work has been done to remove uncertainty in the development of the industry. We have emerged from a period of strained relations where the courts became the main platform of engagement between industry and government,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the days of government and mining industry in courts should be something of the past as “we no longer want to meet you in court but in boardrooms”.
The president is adamant that South Africa is still very rich with minerals buried underground that can be exploited, mined and brought to economic value and it was for that reason that they have prioritised the restoration of policy and regulatory environment that is stable and predictable.
South Africa holds the world’s largest reserves of platinum group metals, manganese, gold, steel, diamonds and chromite, among others.
The African Governance Report 2018 has called for better management of the continent’s natural resources to match the expected yields generated by the AfCFTA.
The report, entitled ‘Natural Resource Governance and Domestic Revenue Mobilization for Structural Transformation’ launched in December 2018 during the African Economic Conference, in Kigali, Rwanda, looked at efforts made to improve the governance of Africa’s natural resources.
According to the report, Africa dominates the low end of the Human Development Index despite its huge natural resource endowments, accounting for 36 of the 41 countries with low human development status (UNDP, 2016).
Only Algeria, Libya, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tunisia have high human development status.
Botswana, Cape Verde, the Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zambia are classified as medium human development countries.
“African countries’ inability to transform their economies, despite having huge natural resource endowments, continues to baffle many,” states the report.
Africa has seen periods of impressive growth but because of their fairly short lengths, lack of long-term resource-based development planning by governments and governance weaknesses have failed to induce economies to diversify.