Story by Tichaona Kurewa
THE need for the proposed new mining law to prioritise communities through environmental protection and empowerment of local people, took centre stage during public consultations in Hwange district this Thursday.
Hwange residents, who attended the ninth public hearing on the Mines and Mining Amendment Bill in the mining town this Thursday, noted that the new mining law should be premised on community empowerment.
A resident noted, ‘‘We have suffered a lot over the years despite having coal around this area, the mining law should compel mining companies to create local value chains and debar the importation of locally available inputs for the sector. Locals should be empowered to produce things like protective clothing, masks and others, these should not be imported.’’
Another resident said, ‘‘We are young people and still want to go to schools, college and others but sometimes we do not have money, so it should be the responsibility of these companies to send us to school.’’
Another resident noted, ‘‘We have a problem of fires in Hwange, it being caused by negligence by coal miners, the law must compel mining companies to deal with such problems swiftly and avoid the loss of life and damage to environment.’’
The Mines and Mining Development Portfolio Committee says the consultations are a constitutional obligation to ensure mining laws speak to modern challenges.
Mines and Mining Development Portfolio Committee Member Honorable Marko Raidza said, ‘‘Mining is the backbone of our economy and therefore we really need progress laws to deal with the farmer-miner conflicts, to deal the issue of special minerals and others that make the sector operate effectively. This is one of the opportunities that we give to the people of Zimbabwe to make their contributions.’’
Chairperson of the Mines and Mining Development Portfolio Committee Honourable Edmund Mukaratigwa noted, ‘‘The bill seeks to solve challenges such as claim disputes which some miners felt is perpetrated by peggers as well the co-existence of farmer and miners.
“So far the major contribution are revolving around total community empowerment .Communities are clamoring for a percentage, they are ranging from five percent to 35 percent in most instances. Zimbabweans are also saying we want a law which compels mining to do corporate social responsibility.’’
Zimbabwe is targeting a US$12 billion mining industry by the end of this year and the crafting of modern laws will ensure continuity beyond 2023.