Mining revolution to benefit ‘makorokoza’

Minister Chris Mushohwe

Minister Chris Mushohwe

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GOVERNMENT has come up with a raft of legislative measures to repeal the bulk of provisions in the colonial Mines and Minerals Act (MMA) in a development set to align the law with latest developments in the mining sector.

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The new regulations, under the auspices of Zimbabwe Mining Development Policy, are already before Cabinet for consideration and will address the shortcomings of the current parent Act in dealing with ownership of natural resources, the emergence of small-scale miners and indigenisation of the mining sector.

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The rules will also lay the framework for empowerment of locals as well as providing a synchrony with the current Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) aim for mineral value addition and beneficiation.

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The Sunday Mail understands that the new regulations will ensure the recognition of small scale miners (makorokoza) whose operations, under the current dispensation, are regarded as illegal.

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Zimbabwe is seeking to derive huge benefits from its minerals and under the indigenisation mantra, the country wants a full retention, converted to shares, of its mineral resources in any foreign partnership deal while the investors take shares from capital injected.

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The proposal in the mining sector comes at the back of statements, a fortnight ago, by newly appointed Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Cde Christopher Mushohwe that the country was not going back on indigenising the country’s resources.

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The indigenisation of the mining sector has come to the fore since the adoption of a set of regulations in 2009 as players in the sector sought win-win situations between locals and foreign investors.

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Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Engineer Fred Moyo told The Sunday Mail that, when the Mines and Minerals Act was crafted in the 1960s, it was meant to serve the interests of the white colonial minority.

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Deputy Minister Moyo said the proposed new regulations, to repeal most provisions of the parent Act, would be tabled in Parliament soon after Cabinet approval.

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“We have crafted new regulations and they are before the Cabinet committee on legislation for onward transmission to Parliament.

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“We cannot really give the timeline as to when we expect this to go before Parliament because, as you know, our Parliament is seized with several Bills,” he said.

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Engineer Moyo said the MMA “does not speak to the realities on the ground because when it was crafted, there were no small-scale miners and there was no talk of empowering the black majority or indigenising the mines so we need to make sure that our laws speaks to the realities of our economy.

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“There was no talk on green production and the setting up of refineries and beneficiation of the minerals in line with the country’s economic policy, Zim-Asset.”

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Government has since given an ultimatum to platinum miners to set up platinum refinery by end of this year, failure of which export of raw platinum will be banned.

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The platinum producers which include Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa have already submitted their plans to set up a refinery in the country.

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Deputy Minister Moyo said MMA was archaic and it was important for it to be repealed. “Look the document is outdated and it’s not in touch with reality. It is critical for us as a Government to align our laws with our policy not to say our policy talks about value addition and it does not have a legal standing, how can we continue about capacitating our small scale miners yet our laws deem them illegal so that’s the whole idea why we are doing away with this document,” he said.

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Engineer Moyo said Government policy was to ensure that the country’s national resources benefits the majority Zimbabweans, “but you have an Act which is silent or does not speak to support this policy.”

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“The new document is simply aligning our vision, objectives and our laws otherwise we will not have value addition, economic empowerment programmes as long as we have instruments which were put in place in the 1960s,” he said.

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Deputy Minister Moyo said the new policy would align the laws on which arms of Government must deal with the exploitation of natural resources.

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He said the current laws result in investors engaging in a cumbersome process of moving from one ministry to another as they regularise their mining operations.

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“As a Government, we want to have a one stop shop so that investors do not move from one office to the other, these laws and policies will be aligned in this new document,” said the minister.

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Zimbabwe has huge mineral resources and has identified the mining sector, which produces high value diamonds, gold, chrome, platinum and goal as the potential economic booster.