AMENDMENTS to the Mines and Minerals Act to make minerals exploration more transparent, accountable and sustainable seem unlikely after President Robert Mugabe did not mention the issue when he announced 23 Bills to be brought before Parliament during the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament.
by VENERANDA LANGA
During the previous session of Parliament in 2014, Mugabe announced that the Executive would bring the Mines and Minerals Act before Parliament for amendments, but nothing was done until the session expired.
In March, Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Fred Moyo, however, told Senate that finalisation of amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act were underway and that a draft Bill was already in place.
Moyo even said stakeholders were being consulted with the hope that the Bill would be introduced in Parliament during the previous session.
But in his statement at the official opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament, Mugabe only announced that a Mineral Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill will be brought before Parliament.
Mugabe said the Bill’s aim was to transform the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe into a fully-fledged mineral exploration corporation. It would also provide for a competitive and investment focused legislative framework.
Mugabe also announced that Parliament will also be expected to craft a Pan African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill to operationalise a university which will offer postgraduate training programmes in mineral value addition and beneficiation.
Amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act have been in the pipeline for several years now, but nothing tangible has been done.
If the Mines and Minerals Act, crafted in 1963, is amended, it is likely to promote investment and sustainable development.
It is also likely to guarantee security of tenure and aid efficient use of land, as well as solve land conflicts between miners and farmers.
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association suggested an amended Mines and Minerals Act should deal with challenges affecting the mining sector today and include clauses on small-scale and artisanal miners, rural communities affected by mining activities, corporate social responsibility by mining companies and rehabilitation of the environment after mining activities.