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'Mbanje licensing cumbersome'

by Staff reporter
20 Sep 2019 at 06:52hrs | Views
THE country could lose out on the multi-billion dollar global medical cannabis revolution due to cumbersome licensing conditions set by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, an official has said.

National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Pro-Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Business Development), Dr Gatsha Mazithulela, told members of a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education in Bulawayo on Wednesday that although the institution has interests in embarking on cannabis medical research projects, the process of obtaining a licence was unnecessarily cumbersome. He said a number of companies that wanted to embark on the cannabis medical research programme had migrated to Lesotho.

"The licensing conditions by the Ministry of Health and Child Care are onerous. So onerous that most of the people that applied have gone to Lesotho because of some of those hurdles. The hurdles are almost as unreasonable as the Indigenisation Law that was struck off. So there are issues around licensing that prevent the university from doing these kinds of things," he said.

Dr Mazithulela said some of the conditions include giving 40 percent shareholding to the Ministry. He said some of the conditions include setting up the plantations on defence and security forces farms which push away investors.   

"We are directed to use land that only belongs to the army, police, Central Intelligence Organisation and prisons. That is one of the conditions for getting a licence that we don't want. We are saying you won't be able to do any work properly under those conditions. You will be like an extension of the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, automatically putting yourself under ZDERA (US sanctions law). I don't see any investor going to such a farm and putting up millions worth of sophisticated equipment," he said.

Dr Mazithulela said the tough conditions could result in Zimbabwe losing out on the cannabis global medical phenomenon as the product could soon flood the market. Meanwhile, Dr Mazithulela said Nust was involved in setting up a local Paynet system to address problems that have affected the banking sector.  

"We are going to be involved in projects of high national significance. I think honourable members are aware Zimbabwean banks have been thrown out of the Paynet system. So we can't move money very easily. One of the things that are going to happen here is both the corporate side of software development and the academic side coming together on a grand challenge to create or develop a local Paynet software. You can imagine if they crack that grand challenge, every transaction that is made may give a few cents to the university," he said.

The committee's chairperson, Mr Daniel Molokele, said it was the duty of Nust to be involved in projects of national relevance. He urged the Nust leadership to put their proposals on paper especially on the medical cannabis issue so that legislators can take up the matter.

Source - chronicle

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