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HomeMiningSlow pace of Mines Amendment Act Worrisome – ZELA

Slow pace of Mines Amendment Act Worrisome – ZELA

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By Thomas Tawanda Siziva

The slow pace at which the Amendment of the archaic Mines and Minerals Act is taking has continued to ne a thorny issue and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association said it’s bow worrisome.

Successive ministers of Mines and Mining Development have either fired or seen their term of office lapse with the amendment getting Presidential ascension despite numerous promises.

Minister Winston Chitando, who recently bounced back as Mines and Mining Development Minister had promised that the Bill will see-through Parliament to the eight parliament. However, that did not happen and stakes are high that it will continue to drag.

ZELA said that it was a cause for concern that the country is still holding on to outdated statutes such as the Mines and Minerals Act among many others.

‘What remains as a major challenge, is the existing (of) old and colonial legal architecture especially the Mines and Minerals Act. The Act does not adequately deal with environmental protection, transparent issuance of mining rights and public disclosure of mining revenues.

‘Since 2007, there are several stalled legal reform processes initiated by government such as the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, Draft Minerals Policy, Income Tax Bill, Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill, a diamond law, and exploration law. Up to now nothing has materialized.’

ZELA said if the country remains grappled with antediluvian statutes, citizens are more likely to suffer the consequences as there will be limited protection from the law.

‘Violations of environmental, economic, social, cultural rights and other freedoms in the mining sector are increasing. Mining causes loss of land, displacement of communities without compensation, pollution of rivers and loss of livelihood sources. State participation in mining through state owned companies has led government to abdicate its duty to protect the people.’

If modern statutes are enacted, through the amendment of old statutes, ZELA said, misnomers being witnessed in the mining sector will be a thing of the past.

‘Tax evasion, illicit financial flows and undeserved tax exemptions are some of the challenges in the mining sector. The Mines and Minerals Act gives too much power to the Minister of Mines to offer tax exemptions to mining companies without public or parliamentary scrutiny for appropriateness. This deprives the country of revenue.

‘In addition, illicit financial and mineral flows are another challenge. There is a perceptible increase in criminality, smuggling and leakages of minerals such as gold and diamonds at mines and across the country’s borders due to poor monitoring systems and low prices offered.

‘The implementation of the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Programme, while noble, is another controversial issue. Many Community Share Ownership Schemes face transparency and accountability challenges including misuse of funds, manipulation by politicians, failure to consult or report back to the people on operations and absence of a clear and predictable legal and policy implementation framework.’

The Attorney General’s office is working with the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as well Ministry of Mines and Mining Deevelopment to crafts amendments to the Mines and Minerals Bill.

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