Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s mining skills going

Posted by CM on March 17, 2008

Zimbabwe’s mining sector has lost more than half its skilled personnel in the last year with workers lured abroad by the chance of boosting their pay more than ten-fold, an industry body said.

According to a new study carried out by the chamber of mines, there are now 1,116 vacancies for professional and technical staff following the departure of workers, mainly to neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Mozambique.

“The industry has lost more than half of its skilled personnel to the region and beyond,” Jack Murehwa, president of the Chamber of Mines, said. “Under the current situation, the employer is struggling to make money, the taxes are among the highest in the world and price distortions make earnings based on the official exchange rate a mockery.”Zimbabwe’s mines, which produce gold, palladium, chrome, platinum and diamonds among other minerals, earned the country $849-million up from $702-million in 2006, according to central bank figures. However, problems over power supply and a dearth of foreign currency are beginning to bite in the inflation-ravaged country, with production of gold falling by more than a third last year.

Murehwa said the industry’s future “looks bleak” in the light of the skills flight, electricity shortages and government plans to force foreign-owned mines to cede transfer majority shares to indigenous blacks.

So the Mugabe regime intends to take over equity in mining companies at the same time the country is losing the skills to make those takeovers profitable and successful! It already looks like yet another colossal planning disaster in the making.

Just as with the Mugabe-caused disaster in the agricultural sector, a basic concept seems to have been misunderstood: natural resources are only potential wealth. They only become actual wealth with capital, technology, conducive policies and skills. Without these qualities, you can have the most mineral-rich and agriculturally-fertile soils but still be a pathetic, declining country.

No number of populist “empowerment laws” will improve Zimbabwe’s economic prospects until these basic lessons are learned.

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