Why Was Army Granted Licence To Export Lithium Ore?
17 January 2023
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By Nomusa Garikai| “Embattled state arms manufacturer, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) has been controversially granted a special permit to export raw lithium by the government, a decision expected to inject life into the firm’s struggling operations, emerging details reveal,” reported the Independent.

“ZDI, which has a vast investment portfolio in mining and is reeling under a Western-imposed embargo that crippled the firm’s operations for over two decades, got approval to export lithium in October last year.

“The latest development comes at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing a lithium rush following the random discovery of the lucrative and strategic mineral in some parts of the country, particularly at Sandawana Mine in the Midlands province.”

The attempt by the Zanu PF government to suggest the Army was being granted the licence to export lithium ore because ZDI is still under Western imposed sanctions is pathetic and irrational. If everything the Army touches is subject to the sanctions then why is ZDI able to export the ore but cannot invest in lithium ore processing plant? 

There is a simple reason why the Army, ahead of everyone else, got the lucrative licence to export lithium ore. The Zanu PF regime owes the top brass in the Army and other security services a big favour and it is payback time.   

The Army, Police, CIO and Prison Services played a pivotal role in the 2008 Operation Mavhotera papi, in which Zanu PF, berserk with fury, sort to punish the voters for daring to reject the party in the March 2008 vote. The country’s security services provided the backing for the Zanu PF militia and war veterans, who were the foot soldiers doing most of the harassment, beating and raping, and the security personal did must of the heavy duty abducting and murdering. 

Mugabe rewarded the top brass in the security services for their role in keeping Zanu PF in power by granting them the now infamous diamond mining concession in Marange and Chiadzwa. The concession allowed the holders to mine without keeping a record of the quality or quantity of diamonds found, to whom the diamonds were sold and for how much, who were the beneficiaries of the sale and they were not under any legal obligation to declare their earnings for company or persona tax purposes. In short, the concession were a state approved looting scheme. 

In time the looting schemes have extended to other areas such as gold and platinum mining and extended to other fields such as energy and it has been said that the service provider for ZEC data is an Army owned subsidiary. 

The initial decision was that Zimbabwe will not export lithium ore in a move to build the smelting plant, create the much needed employment in the country and add value. A reasonable decision by all accounts. 

“The Independent, among other questions, wanted to understand how ZDI was granted the green-light to export raw lithium and whether the military-controlled entity has short-term plans to beneficiate the mineral. This publication also sought to verify whether this was going to be a once-off shipment or a running deal,” continued the report.

The report that the Army has been granted the right to export lithium ore is not surprising in the context of the wholesale looting of the nation’s resources that is happening, especially by the Army. But the truth be told, there was probably no one willing to team up with the Army or one of the other looting syndicates to build a lithium smelter. 

Let’s face it, Zimbabwe is a failed state, a pariah state, ruled by corrupt, incompetent and murderous thugs. The country has become the by-word for chaos and the criminal waste of human and material resources. 

No one, absolutely no one would want to risk investing good money in failed state. Building a lithium smelter constitute a long term investment and not even the looters themselves would want to make such a long time commitment. 

Right now, Zimbabwe is gripped with election fever. Zanu PF is set to rig these elections. There is widespread election violence and the country has failed to produce something as basic as a verified voters’ roll. And yet the election is going ahead regardless because the opposition are after the few gravy train seats Zanu PF is offering as bait. 

The failure to hold free, fair and credible elections will only confirm Zimbabwe’s status a failed state. How is it possible that 43 years of independence and in this day and age, we still have no clue what constitute free elections! 

Zanu PF has denied us our basic freedoms and human rights including the right to a meaningful vote. Before independence the rallying cry was “One man! One vote!” We acknowledge the right of very one to a meaningful say in the governance of the country. 

Ever since MDC/CCC failed to implement even one reform during the 2008 to 2013 GNU, the new rallying call has been to “win rigged elections!” This is just an oxymoronic excuse for allowing Zanu PF to continue riding roughshod over the people denying them their right to free elections. 

Holding free, fair and credible elections is the pre-requisite to ending Zimbabwe’s curse of corruption, bad governance and the pariah state status. As long as the country remains a pariah state there will be no meaningful economic recovery. None!