BY VENERANDA LANGA
LEGAL think-tank, Veritas, has decried omission of pivotal pieces of legislation such as the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill from the more than 31 Bills that were announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as part of the legislative agenda during the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament.
Mnangagwa early this month officially opened the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament with 31 Bills lined up for debate by Parliament.
Despite calls by mining stakeholders that the archaic Mines and Minerals Act must be amended, Mnangagwa did not include most Bills pertaining to the mining sector.
“Given the that a Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill has been considered urgently necessary for some years now and that it and two other Bills featured in the Third Session’s legislative agenda, it is odd that the President did not mention the following Bills; Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, Precious Stones Trade Amendment Bill and Gold Trade Amendment Bill from the Mines ministry,” Veritas said in a statement.
In 2020, Mines minister Winston Chitando told MPs that drafting of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill was almost complete, adding that the Bill would soon be brought before Parliament.
However, the amendments are yet to be made.
Stakeholders feel that it is imperative to amend the Mines and Minerals Act in order to enhance transparency and accountability in the minerals sector, and to assist the country to attain its ambitious US$12 billion mining industry target by 2030.
Some of the amendments that stakeholders want included in the Mines and Minerals Act are regularising artisanal miners and solving miner and farmer conflicts.
In their position paper on the Mines and Minerals Act amendments, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) said the archaic 1961 statute did include strategic means to unlock the government’s potential to achieve the US$12 billion mining industry and greater control over mining hurdles.
“To summarise, the Mines and Minerals Act of 1961 is an outdated legislation with unlimited challenges which have been affecting the ability of the nation to realise maximum mineral resource beneficiation especially for the locals who are operating as artisanal and small-scale miners (ASMers),” the Zela report read.
It added that the Bill should formalise ASMers, which will assist in closing leakages such as illicit financial flows, and increase more gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
“This simply means that the country could earn more if legislative reforms are put in place to address formalisation of ASMers.”