By Billian T Matambo
Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU).
As supported by section 149 of our constitution which grant Zimbabweans a right to petition its government, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), local CBOs, CSOs, youth movements, and relevant stakeholders in the extractive industry joined hands in petitioning the government on issues of concern which must be included and clarified in the new Mines and Minerals Bill. The rapid response to the petition saw the whole team of minerals and mines portfolio committee paying a visit and doing consultations at King’s Daughter country club in Penhalonga in Manicaland province on the 20th of August 2019. The meeting was attended by major key players in the extractive sector who are from the grassroots, hosting communities to artisanal and small-scale miners, farmers, illegal miners to big mining companies like King’s daughter mine.
Communities submissions tackled quite a number of concerns, starting with how compensation issues should be handled. The emphasis was that the bill must state clearly that compensation should be paid in full before relocation lest history will keep on repeating itself citing the scenario of Arda Transau residents who were relocated from Chiadzwa with nothing and are still fighting for pending unsettled arrears of more than 10years ago. The issue of the EIA heated the house up with everyone agreeing that companies must have EIA certificate before mining takes place, also with clear rehabilitation plan when applying for a licence. A mining closure certificate after an evaluation must be mandatory. As host communities cry foul when companies play hide and seek on issues of community development and beneficiation its best for the bill to include community development agreements which are binding. The bill must also permit government to revoke licences from non complying companies or persons and must state clear penalties to persons violating and polluting the environment. The issue of putting measures that underpin and enforce gender equality and equity in the mining sector was not spared either.
Small scale and artisanal miners also brought forward their submissions. Their main concern is for the new bill to put in place redressing measures that will eliminate bad blood between farmer and miner. The argument being that if the farmer’s land can not fortify so be it with the miner’s claim while he or she is still alive. The bill must protect them both. The new bill must set a mandatory measure for engagement between fidelity printers and its customers because as its stands the miners are accusing fidelity printers of slaughtering the dairy cows forgetting that they still need the milk since they are not willing to engage miners every time they change market prices thus miners now prefer to sell their minerals on black market . The bill must address these issues before its too late. The miners also complained on the lack of policies that protect them from high taxes charged by local authorities and EMA. On the issue of prospecting licence to investors the new bill must address and shorten the timeframe for prospecting to investors as the country is losing a lot of money through this process.
Big mining companies represented by King ‘s Daughter brought forward their submission, their main wish is for the new bill to enforce implementation of policies by watchdogs and all those responsible. Their argument being that a lot of loopholes are created through the power invested to the ministers to have exceptions by the mines and minerals act as this is the breeding gap for corruption.
Its our wish that the new mines and minerals bill will cover all the submissions we made to the mineral and mines portfolio committee. We look forward to a new beginning in the extractive sector that will support vision 2030.