The decision by government to stop operations of nine diamond companies at Chiadzwa following their failure to renew their licences is commendable.
By Peacemaker Zano,Our Reader
It is essential for all mining companies to comply with government policies for their businesses to be safe.
Government does not just wake up and order these mining firms to cease their operations.
When these mining companies applied for their licences, I believe an agreement was signed after thoroughly reading the Mines and Minerals Act, which states that firms have to renew their licences after a period of three years.
Government was even lenient when it gave the mining companies a 90-day ultimatum to either renew their mining licences or clear out their equipment and other valuables.
However, it was unfortunate that the mining company owners, workers and security personnel had to vacate before the particular time frame, leaving the mining fields unattended.
Reports from Chiadzwa had it that thieves and illegal panners at the mines were looting mining equipment at the fields. It is pleasing to note that, other things being equal, government has rectified the situation.
The government has deployed Zimbabwe Republic Police officers to guard the fields. Failing to comply with government policies by these mining firms was a clear indication that they were no longer interested in doing business in the country. For a firm to operate without a renewing licence is as good as breaching the law.
Truth be told, if one does not abide by regulations that guide the operations of either an institution or an organisation it depicts that they are not interested with business being done there.
Government was justified when it said the diamond mine should consolidate and form one mine. However, the firms rejected the idea by government for them to operate under one firm.
There is no doubt that the refusal by these companies to amalgamate was because they wanted to escape from government scrutiny or control. All they wanted was to operate without any government orders.
Previous reports have it that these diamond companies were also failing to account for revenue from their operations. Government has the mandate to know how these companies operate, as well as the proceeds coming from the miners. The idea to allow government to control diamond fields will permit accountability of revenue collected.
Surely, if any company is given the privilege to operate at its own will, cases of underhand dealings will be the order of the day.
The economy needs to recover through its own resources. Diamonds are a valuable mineral which have the potential to resuscitate the economy. The people of Chiadzwa are supposed to benefit from the minerals mined in their area through Community Share Ownership Trusts. Probably, the diamond firms failed to renew their licences because they didn’t want to contribute 10% of their proceeds to the community. There is a lot that these mining companies were supposed to do, for instance, rehabilitation of roads and bridges, constructing schools and drilling boreholes.
Most people in those communities are poor and their children walk long distances to and from school daily.
Government’s decision to cease operations of diamond firms should act as a wake-up call to all mining companies nationwide.