‘More urgency should be put on mining bill’

EnviroPress Reporter

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines chairperson Edmund Mkaratigwa has urged government to expedite the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill to close loopholes that lead to exploitation of minerals.

The most important reform required is to update the Mines and Minerals Act to remove the colonial construct and make it more relevant to the people of Zimbabwe & plug the opaque nature of this important sector.

Proposals to amend the archaic Mines and Minerals Act began in 2015, but six years later, the amendments are still pending.

Speaking recently at a workshop in Kadoma on the Overview of the 2022 Committee Work and Actions on Natural Resource Governance issues in the country, Mkaratigwa said a strong legislative agenda to safeguard minerals would empower the country to get results from exploitation of its minerals.

“The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill has not yet been gazetted. The Bill was sent to the Attorney-General’s Office for proof-reading, and the anticipation was that the Bill will be gazetted by the end of 2022.

“We are only a few days away for December to end and it is my hope that the Bill will be gazetted before year-end,” said Mkaratigwa.

“A strong legal policy framework is critical as it will enable the country to realize optimal results from the exploitation of its minerals. Furthermore, the committee was told by the Minister of Mines Winston Chitando that without the amendments to the principal Act, all other laws such as the Gold Trade Act and the Precious Stones Trade Act will not be reviewed,” he said.

Mkaratigwa said it was important for the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill to gazetted so that other laws to do with minerals would also be amended.

On exploration, Mkaratigwa said the funds allocated by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in the 2023 national budget were inadequate.

“The exploration company received $1,5 billion for exploration of minerals and it requires 55 vehicles, and two diamond drillers for exploration and drones. This will enable the country to come up with a database with accurate information that can be used for the negotiation of mining contracts,” said Mkaratigwa.

Former Zimbabwe Finance minister during the government of national unity Tendai Biti accused the Mines minister Winston Chitando of selling off Zimbabwe to a ‘coterie of gangsters’.

“Winston Chitando is selling off Zimbabwe for a song. Zimbabwe’s valuable mineral resources particularly gold, platinum, lithium and diamonds are being given away by a coterie of gangsters that lacks the probity, the skill & the competence to deal with precious commodities,” said Biti.