GOVERNMENT should speed up the amendment process to the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill to create a proper legal framework that will address sticking issues in the mining sector, small-scale miners lobby body, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), has said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year ordered that the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill be taken back to Parliament for further scrutiny after miners cried foul that they were left out in the crafting process. Since then, there has been little progress in the amendment process, a situation that has hampered progress in the mining sector, the country’s largest foreign currency earner.
Speaking during a Small Scale Miners Conference at Mine Entra in Bulawayo on Friday, ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya called on Government to speed up the amendment process.
“The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is an issue of great concern as I stand before you. We, therefore, implore Government to expedite the amendment process so that a number of issues are addressed. I am reliably informed that the consultative process has already begun and a steering committee will soon be put in place,” she said.
Ms Rushwaya said the Bill was expected to address a number of issues including formalisation of small-scale miners, plugging gold leakages and illicit gold trading as well as casualties within the mining sector.
“We have a number of issues that hinge upon the Mines and Minerals Bill hence the call for its speedy crafting and conclusion. We have issues like escalating illicit mineral deals predominantly in the gold sector, the loss of employment in the formal sector also has been escalating. There have been escalating issue of disputes between farmers and miners stalling progress in the mining sector. The Mines and Minerals Bill is set to tackle all these issues, chief among them formalisation of small-scale miners putting an end to these challenges,” she said.
The ZMF boss said legal battles within the sector have also been stalling progress as the leadership has had to spend more time in courts.
“We were elected into office last year in June but let me hasten to say we have been fighting legal battles week in and week out at the expense of progress. This has been an issue of concern and as small scale miners we are saying let us stop fighting and focus on mining. We should avoid fighting for personal gains, let us be peaceful miners,” she said.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minster, Polite Kambamura, said the Parliamentary portfolio committee on mines had already kick-started publicmconsultations.
“The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is now work in progress. Parliamentarians have already embarked on public consultations.
“The Bill is set to address challenges as mentioned by Ms Rushwaya, chief among them the formalisation of the miners as they are currently contributing 60 percent of gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers,” he said.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said the Bill was set to tackle the disputes, which emanated in 2008 soon after the land reform programme. He said Government had also escalated efforts to bring sanity in the mining sector by launching a safety awareness camping to avoid further loss of lives.
“We are working hand in hand with ZMF to carry out awareness campaigns so that the miners remain safe. We also applaud ZMF on its partnerships with civic organisations to try and bring sanity in the mining sector,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.