Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
ZIMBABWEAN mining policies should be crafted in such a way that they fully safeguard local resources and plug leakages to ensure the country derives maximum benefit.
This emerged during a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development public hearing held at Kwekwe Theatre in Kwekwe last week. The committee chaired by Zvishavane-Ngezi legislator, Dumezweni Mahwite, sought to find out challenges faced by the miners as a result of existing mining laws.
The outreach follows a petition to Parliament by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) demanding an urgent review of mining laws to promote sustainable environmental practices by mining corporations. In his contribution, one of the participants, Mr Silas Chaduka, said there was nothing wrong with existing legislation but what was lacking was correct implementation.
“I see nothing wrong with the current piece of legislation but I have every problem with the implementation part. Let us have policies that put in place proper enforcement that we avoid leakages of our precious resources from the country. The minerals we have in this country should benefit the local people before they benefit anyone else. But we are found wanting in the enforcement of the current laws. We should be able to account for every mineral,” he said.
Participants said some of foreign investors were looting local resources and spiriting them outside the country right in the eyes of everyone due to lack of proper implementation to plug the leakages.
Another participant, Mr Jacob Chokururama, called for the speedy establishment of the mining cadastre system as a way of resolving disputes that are on the increase.
“Disputes especially between farmers and miners are hampering development. Most of the time is now consumed as we walk up and down trying to solve the disputes. I therefore, call upon the relevant authorities to speed up the digitisation of the registration purpose,” he said.
Mr Chokururama said the time taken for one to get a mining claim should also be revised downwards.
Mrs Martha Moyo of Silobela Miners’ Association said the Exclusive Prospective Orders (EPOs) should be allowed to benefit locals instead of being locked down under the arrangement.
“The issue of EPOs is causing problems. You find that most of these are held by foreign mining corporations. It’s high time that we prioritise locals and allow them to extract minerals from those closed mines. Let us be allowed to benefit from our own resources,” she said.
Mr Evans Kadenhe, a local miner, proposed that the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) should have a benchmark of fines instead of the officers charging fines off hand. Stakeholders also urged the mining sector to work hand in glove with the agriculture sector to solve the disputes involving miners and farmers.
In its petition, ZELA said it was concerned by the rate of environmental degradation within the mining sector and the prevalence of human rights violations by mining corporations in Zimbabwe.
This comes at a time when stakeholders in the mining sector have called on Government to speed up the amendment process of the Mines and Minerals Bill, which was returned to Parliament for further scrutiny.