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Mnangagwa says I am not a crocodile, I am Shumba

When the farmer produces, he wants to be paid. Where do I get the money from? So I called the 11 major millers in the country, sat with them and said, how much money do you spend on importation of grain? About $1bn; 980 or so per year for importation of grain. I said, now we are banning you from importing grain — each one buys grain not for the full year but in quarters, so we give them money for the quarter — so give me money for the quarter, if you are giving me money for the quarter I pay the farmer, the farmer delivers the maize to your grain marketing boards and then you go and withdraw your maize and we deduct it from what you have given in advance. So through the funds from the millers I’m paying the farmer and the farmer delivers the maize and the miller takes the maize to mill for that quarter, deducting it from the amount. So if you wanted 6,000 a year and in the quarter it’s just about 15,000 metric tonnes, for the three months they can go and withdraw maize from the grain marketing board, 15,000 tonnes is [unclear] and deducted from the amount he’s given me so everybody’s happy. Then that goes well if there are good rains but in the event that there is no rain, we said, OK, we must have a model which gives us food security whether it’s a good season or there’s drought. When there’s drought, we said, how much land under irrigation do we need to produce the same quantity of grain? We discovered that we need just in excess of 300,000 hectares of land, which will be irrigated and obviously the yields will be above five tonnes. But at this stage — two years ago — no, last year in 2016 — or two years ago — we only had about 159,000 hectares of land under irrigation but we need 300,000 hectares of land under irrigation. Whether there’s rain or no rain if we irrigate that amount of land we have more than two million metric tonnes of grain. So we’ve now increased the number of hectares under irrigation. I’m sure now they’ve increased the number of hectares under irrigation but the minimum we want is 300,000. When they restart, it doesn’t matter whether there’s good rain or there’s drought, we will feed the country. In the area of agriculture and beneficiation we are saying, yes, we are now at production level with a model, now we’re moving on to the second cost; this is processing, value-addition and beneficiation. Then the marketing; these are the three steps we are following. I can say, we have said bye-bye now to food insecurity for Zimbabwe, which will be a food-basket again for the region.

Q: Is it dead now? (Indigenisation law)

A: Not really in the mortuary. It is at the departure lounge rather than the mortuary.

Q: It’s an important point this. Readers of the FT are very interested in this.

A: It was broken into three. The first part relates to depletable resources or the extractive resources sector; that is the mining sector, depletable or extractive sector — that’s mining. Then the second is — what do you call it? — non-depletable resources. Under the first one, the depletable, the extractive sector, the law was that it must be 51 per cent government, 49 the investor. The minute you land at the Harare airport, 51 per cent of your money is ours, 49 per cent of it is yours. But if you go into manufacturing, it’s negotiable. There is local participation but there is no insistence on 51/49. Then if you go into the reserved sector like salons for the girls, that is reserved for — small groceries — reserved for our local people. I have revised that and say the entire economy is open, except for two minerals: diamonds and platinum. The rest you can think about — it could be lithium, coal, gas, chrome, nickel, whatever, manufacturing, industrial, infrastructure — it’s open.

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