New mines act should reflect regional standards – ZELA

MUTARE – Government should align the Mines and Mineral Bill to regional standards, adopted by African heads of state, to sanitize the mining industry, a civic group has said.

In a declaration following the fourth Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) held recently, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) calls on government to embark on several reforms in the extractive sector, to improve transparency, accountability and competitiveness.

ZAMI held annually, has become the premier mining indaba for stakeholders including communities affected by mining and citizens to engage with government, legislators and the private sector, share and exchange ideas, experiences and strategies on how to promote the rights of communities affected by mining operations and sustainable development in the mining sector.

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This year’s indaba ran under the theme “Creation Shared Value in the Mining Sector through Engagement with People, Business and Government”, which was a call towards greater integration of stakeholders in the sector.

The declarations call for government to:

  • “Ensure that the various national and international transparency and accountability initiatives that have been created are streamlined and applied in Zimbabwe, a key facet to unlocking the value from the mining sector is applied from the licensing stage to the revenue collection and management stages.
  • “Formulate a completely new Mines and Minerals Act which is in line with the principles of the African Mining Vision (AMV) formulated in 2009 by the African Heads of States.”

Recommendations were also put forward to:

  • “Expedite the formalization of artisanal mining and creation of a department of small scale and artisanal mining in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. This new department should be anchored on providing financial and technical support to artisanal and small-scale mining based on its important role in the country’s economy.”

The AMV is a pathway, agreed by African nations themselves, that puts the continent’s long term and broad development objectives at the heart of all policy-making concerned with mineral extraction.

Its goal is to create a “Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”

ZELA also called on government to put measures aimed at improving the implementation and management of the controversial Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOT) established under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

Photo credit: www.gilbertmakore.wordpress.com

The CSOT have been blighted by numerous challenges chief among them being the  release of funds into the trusts as diamond firms argue that such remittances are optional not mandatory. In Marange Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust was sold a dummy cheque of $50 million but companies are yet to fulfill their pledges.

In this regard delegates at the ZAMI agreed that the law be reviewed in order to make the establishment of CSOTs mandatory and not optional.

Other recommendations dealt with creation of an enabling environment for value addition processes in the mining sector such as improving the power situation needed for powering heavy beneficiation machinery.

Local content development was identified as a critical area with calls for government to ensure that it is a reality by granting various incentives in the same light foreign investors are granted when seeking to lure foreign direct investments.