KARIBA — Members of Parliament from both sides of the House yesterday unanimously admitted the whipping system had rendered them ineffective, as they cannot independently debate or amend statutes governing the mining sector.
Report by Obey Manayiti Staff Reporter
This emerged at a workshop on mining and Zimbabwe’s diamond policy and the legal framework after the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) challenged legislators to urgently ensure that the ineffective and old mining laws governing the sector in the country be replaced to promote transparency and accountability in the sector.
The mining sector is currently governed by the Mines and Minerals Act of 1961, a situation that has caused numerous loopholes dogging the industry.
Addressing MPs attending the workshop in Kariba, Zela director Mtuso Dhliwayo challenged legislators to consider proposals of the Diamond Act.
However, MPs from the MDC-T and Zanu PF accused their party leaders of employing intimidatory tactics to bar them from recommending suggestions which curb looting in the mining sector, especially the diamond industry.
“We could have finished off with issues of reforming the mining sector, but the Executive is our biggest undoing. They use the whipping system to shoot down suggestions of enacting mining laws,” said Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa (MDC-T).
“If you try to change the laws through a private member’s Bill in Parliament, the whole process will be politicised and it will not sail through.”
Dhliwayo had no kind words for the lawmakers over the whipping system and challenged them to fight for the new mining laws.
“Laws that govern mining in Zimbabwe are old as they were enacted during the colonial era. These laws cannot deal with challenges affecting the mining sector today.
“MPs should be guided by national interests and they should be principled. These issues are bigger than political parties. Politicians come and go and MPs shouldn’t support positions that destroy us. As a nation, we should move beyond that.
“They should also advocate for laws which protect them from these bullies,” added Dhliwayo.
Other delegates challenged the lawmakers to shape up or ship out if they failed to represent interests of the people because of the whipping system.
Dhliwayo said his organisation was calling for the Diamond Act and other mining laws which provide for transparency and accountability.