Story by Tafara Chikumira
QUESTIONS on the composition of the Mining Affairs Board and the pre-inspection requirements took centre stage during public consultations for the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill held in Gweru this Monday.
The proposed Mines and Minerals Bill which is currently at the consultation stage came under the spotlight in Gweru this Monday as miners raised concerns on some of the proposals which they felt gave too many powers to the ministry responsible while disadvantaging them.
A miner said, ‘‘The proposed bill says there must be a Mining Affairs board which consists of 13 members of which seven of them are going to be employees of the ministry and the other six are going to be appointed from various stakeholders.
“The sound of it entails that these board members will be dominated by individuals from the same house who will be voting to satisfy the ministry’s interests. We need an independent or neutral board with balanced representation from both ministry and stakeholders.”
Another miner noted, ‘‘The bill proposes that we pay Pre-inspection fees to EMA, Rural district council, PVO and for labour returns. From the reading of this provision, it is very clear that the miner will be demanded to undergo processes that demand a capital injection before his/her inspection payment is made. There is absolutely no funding to assist the poor miner hence this will result in red tapping.’’
The bill failed to sail through the eighth parliament after President Emmerson Mnangagwa raised some reservations about the rights and inclusion of women, youths and people with disabilities.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development is confident some of the issues that were not addressed in the initial amendment bill have since been taken on board empowering people from disadvantaged communities.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development Chairperson, Honourable Edmond Mukaratirwa said, ‘‘We have had a pilot project of cadastre computerisation registry system in Manicaland which is being fronted by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development which is meant to address the traditional conflicts between miners and farmers across the country.
“Apart from the cadastre computerisation registry, we have also had a plethora of issues that have come up and these are some of the issues to do with transparency and accountability, cooperate social responsibility and the communities are also clamouring for the involvement of traditional leadership not only that but to see empowerment and participation of locals being attended to in this bill about to become law.’’
The Mines and Minerals Bill is set to replace the 1961 Minerals Act.
The bill is expected to help end farmers- miners conflicts that have affected operations in the two sectors which form the backbone of the country’s economy.