MUTARE, ZIMBABWE -- The Zimbabwe government intends to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Manicaland Province to facilitate the swift movement of goods between landlocked Zimbabwe and the port of Beira in neighbouring Mozambique, says President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The government is pursuing the SEZ initiative as one way of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, through offering various incentives in such areas, he said here Saturday, adding that it had drawn up legislation for the setting up of SEZs and had identified Mutare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls as likely locations.

Addressing party supporters at a rally in the provincial capital, Mutare, President Mnangagwa said the government had massive plans for Manicaland. In Manicaland, in our development plans we want you to have a Special Economic Zone for purposes of exportation of commodities from this area to the Mozambique port of Beira, he said. This will give you employment, technology and skills from outside.

Apart from being a border province, Manicaland is where the bulk of Zimbabwe's diamonds are produced, has timber plantations and is also a well-known farming area.

As such, setting up an SEZ in the province could potentially turn it into an export hub for farm produce, timber and other commodities.

Referring to diamonds, President Mnangagwa said the government was disappointed with the company currently mining in the Chiadzwa area. The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, a State-owned company, is currently the sole producer of diamonds in the area.

We had about seven or so companies mining diamonds but under the old administration we banned all those companies and created one company, but we now realise that the one company has no capacity to deal with the exploitation of this mineral, he said.

He said government would soon announce a new diamond policy to remedy this. The policy would also, among other things, ensure that surrounding communities benefit from minerals mined in their areas.

Communities around AREAS where minerals such as diamonds, platinum and so on are found must benefit, and that is going to come into the (new) legislationt.