Prospecting fees poison pill


Some minds met in Zimbabwe and resolved that it was just and equitable to change the mineral prospecting fee structure.

Precisely who met and what informed the agenda will as is typical in many developing states remain faceless and nameless, but the choices and decisions will always be dressed as if they are driven by some real national interest.

The use of emergency powers to achieve illegitimate ends is characteristic of undemocratic states for no harm will be caused if the Legislature were to be involved in the law-making process.

When actors in the Executive branch of the State believe that they are only accountable to themselves, if not to God, then one must know that the future has been hijacked and the State has been transformed into a football to be kicked around by only those who acquire the power and status from the stupidity of the majority whose rights and interests become subordinated without their consent and participation.

The new fee structure was introduced through a decree under Statutory Instrument 11 of 2002 under the Mining (General)(Amendment) Regulations, 2012 (No 16).

Pursuant to the operation of this instrument, there is no recognition of the identity and status of the applicant notwithstanding the fact the indigenisation policy thrust premised on the fact that no indigenous person must pay for that which God created and endowed to Zimbabwe.

The logic that says native Zimbabweans should and must not pay for land must at the very least be the same logic that should inform the fee structure in respect of mineral prospecting. Only a fool would argue that minerals are different from land for neither is created by the hand or mind of man.

The thinking behind the fee structure is exclusionary and insensitive to the history of the country and, more importantly, to Gods true intention.

No rational person can assert that the State and its actors have any more superior claim to minerals than the individual citizens.

The State is nothing but a creature of mankind yet in electing people a real risk exists that those who have climbed the political power ladder lose the sense of balance and humanity to locate their interests in the context of the majority who are in the valley of poverty and hopelessness.

The current Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, whose genius in creating wealth was only revealed in a naked and offensive manner during his tenure as minister, would want the majority of Zimbabweans to believe that money is generally and freely available to all prospective applicants for mineral rights without openly and transparently explaining how he acquired the means to be free from the constraints that everyday people face and endure.

By selling the promise of minerals at substantially higher rates than in other countries, the message in the bottle is unmistakeable and clear.

If you belong to a class of previously and newly disadvantaged, you have no prospect of converting the wealth that lies in Zimbabwes belly into real wealth for one would need to have received money from an undefined source to be able to be on the bus that will take poor citizens through these new tollgates to the land where Mpofu is currently living.

I have no doubt the representatives of the people in Parliament who have hitherto not been consulted will have their take on the punitive rates.

The minerals in question were created without the current generation playing any active part in the process and yet the language used by State actors would suggest that Zimbabwe will not be safe if they were not in power.

The minerals were safe before we were born and will continue to be situated in the belly unless risk capital, which is not in abundance among black Africans, is available.

While it is the prevailing logic in the minds of State actors that they have a direct line to God, the reality is that mineral resources will only play a part in advancing the interests of human growth and development if the State and its actors play a supportive and facilitative role.

The devil in the logic that the State can be the vanguard of the national democratic revolution lies in the manner in which State actors are created.

Mpofu as a State actor was created through an electoral process and, therefore, cannot claim any better or superior wisdom than the people in his constituency who created him.

Accepting that Mpofu was created by poor peasants and a few rich, how is it conceivable that he would promote and defend the interests of the people from whom he never received a mandate?

In coming up with new policies, one would expect that the interests of the people from whom power is borrowed to create a State to be the drivers, yet in the case of Zimbabwe the mere existence of a statutory instrument after about 32 years of independence would confirm that the State and its actors live in another world.

Civil servants are underpaid and the only way their fortunes will increase is when the number of income producers is increased. The statutory instrument seeks to do the opposite not only in terms of reduced income for government, but in job losses.

The privatisation of the State has to form part of the conversation beyond the new constitution. Does the State belong to the citizens in whose name it is created to serve? My own experience would suggest that the State is and can be used to reduce individual freedom and opportunity.

The people who will inevitably benefit from the new fee regime are known and predictable. They are riders in the wagons of the privileged State actors.

Zimbabwes mineral potential was known in 1890 and no new minerals have been created so it must be obvious that the real challenge lies not so much in restricting access to Gods creation, but in increasing opportunities.

It has been claimed that land reform democratised the agriculture industry and yet the new fee regime seeks to limit and even undermine democracy.

It has been suggested that the State ought to play a more significant role in mining, either through State organs or indirectly through State actors choosing participants.

The basis of a democratic constitutional order is that the State is a claimant on income generated by citizens as part of the design of the social contract that underpins a nation state.