Zimbabwe Digital News
Free Zim Congress leader Joseph Makamba Busha says Zimbabwe is sitting on millions of dollars worth of lithium deposits, and the country could become a world supplier of batteries and assessories – if there was political will to exploit the resources.
Addressing the party faithful in Johannesburg this week, Mr Busha, who came fourth in Zimbabwe’s presidential election of August 2018 said that by his party’s calculations, Zimbabwe was worth about $2 trillion in unexploited mineral wealth alone – but the country was barely scratching the surface in terms of its mining and industrial potential.
“We cannot move forward with the kind of leadership that we have, and the brand of politicis that we are practising.
“Our current leadership cannot conceptualise how to take Zimbabwe to the industrial levels that we envisage – and the sad reality is that they do not know what they are dealing with in terms of the country’s assets.”
Busha lamented the current reliance on cash crops as a source of foreign currency, saying Zimbabwe was vulnerable to natural phenomena, like drought.
“With our heavy reliance on tobacco, what happens when there is a drought? We are just stagnant as an economy.
“Imagine, since 1980 at independence, there has only been one significant building constructed in Bulawayo,” said Busha.
He narrated how Zimbabwe was suffering from crippling power shortages – yet the country was sitting on minerals which are on demand throughout the world – chief among them – lithium – a key ingredient in making batteries.
This in addition to immeasurable abundance of the sun. Lithium is in demand as a battery metal needed for the shift to electric vehicles and renewable power, although some analysts say the market could become oversupplied as the pipeline of projects builds up.
We cannot make brake pads, but we produce iron
Other minerals attracting interest are gold, as well as coal and coal-bed methane, which miners pursue as cheap sources of power, he added, noting that the biggest problem for mining is the lack of capital.
Zimbabwe’s economy is suffering acute shortages of cash dollars, increases in prices of basic goods, high unemployment and low levels of foreign investment but President Mnangagwa last month promised to safeguard all investments in the country.
“Technological advances in products like iPhones, the P20, laptops, smart watches and Tesla all have one thing in common. That is batteries.
“Naturally those batteries require some form of lithium as a key ingredient and Zimbabwe is lucky to have decent lithium deposits that are commercially viable,” said Busha.
“But without a solid understanding of our domestic politics and policies, and without a solid understanding and implementation of our economic, mining and industrial policies, we shall forever remain behind technological advances, even when we are sitting on those resources.”
“We cannot even produce brake pads, but we produce iron ore. We import filter paper from South Africa, but we have got plenty of wood to make paper pulp in Zimbabwe,” Busha said.
Five key policy interventions
In revealing the five key policy interventions that his party Free Zim Congress is rolling out, Busha said Zimbabwe’s domestic policies were skewed, and there was a false sense in thinking that the country was peaceful, when infact the opposite was true.
“Peace precedes everything. Look at Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, the farm invasions and the attacks on opposition politicians. People are distabilised by such things.
“The sooner we sort out our shortcomings, the better. People’s houses and livelihoods were destroyed at Marange, now the mineral is finished. Who is responsible for rebuilding the lives of the people there and restoring the environment,” Busha queried.
He announced plans to force the Zimbabwe government to listen to what the diaspora Zimbabweans were putting on the table, adding that his party will soon be launching rolling mass action at embassies – to force the government to be sensitive to people’s demands.
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