Zvishavane-Ngezi MP, John Holder (Zanu PF) has called for the arrest of bigwigs involved in minerals trading, as currently only small fish get fried, when it comes to prosecution of offenders.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Holder was contributing to debate in the National Assembly on a motion in reply to the Presidential speech, where he said there was need to look at minerals legislation in the country to ensure it protects artisanal miners that are always arrested, while big offenders are let go of.
“The Gold Trade Act and the Precious Stones Act are some of the very sore and sad stories, where you find a person caught with three grammes of gold is sentenced to five years in prison, and another caught with emeralds that have no value sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, while no one has ever been sent to jail for the missing $15 billion,” Holder said.
“We need to look at ways to deal with these Acts because they are far too harsh, especially for the artisanal miners, who trying to make a living. President Robert Mugabe spoke about decriminalising them, but here, we are playing cat and mouse chasing them, catching them and jailing them for five years at the taxpayers’ expense. It becomes a sad story. So, we need to look at that in a robust way.”
Holder said the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, which is being crafted in Parliament needs a relook, as in its form it was a one-size fits-all.
“It means whether you are a small miner, medium miner or large miner, it is the same laws. This is where there are a lot of challenges,” he said.
The MP said most artisanal miners do not even understand the law, adding legislators within mining communities need to teach their people the implications of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill. He said the Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill also had challenges in the manner it was crafted in that the aspects of marketing and beneficiation were not separated.
He said if the two were put together, it would be a duplication of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Act.