Walter Nyamukondiwa Kariba Bureau
The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is expected to be resubmitted to Parliament by end of October, this time incorporating issues that President Mnangagwa expressed concern over.
The President sent the Bill back to Parliament in terms of Section 131(6)(b) of the Constitution, with reservations over some sections which he felt violated the national supreme law.
Parliament has set timelines guiding the law drafting division of the Attorney-General’s Office, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
The timelines will also see the Ministry of Mines submitting the amended Gold Trade Act and Precious Stones Trade Act to Parliament by October 30, 2019.
This was said by Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda while addressing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines in Kariba last Friday.
He said the strict timelines have been occasioned by the realisation that the mining sector plays a critical role in economic development, especially in relation with the attainment of Vision 2030 of an upper middle income society.
“There we are, our law is not in place and that will defeat the aspirations of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) of achieving US$12 billion gross turnover from this sector by 2023,” said Adv Mudenda.
“So, there must be a sense of urgency and ensuring that not later than October, the Bill must be reconsidered and approved by Parliament and sent back to His Excellency, the President, for his assent and signature.
“It will mean a lot of hard work from all the stakeholders involved.”
President Mnangagwa had reservations over the farmer-miner relations, mining title and dispute resolution mechanisms, among others.
The President felt that some provisions of the original Bill had the potential to impinge on property rights.
“The reservations by His Excellency the President E.D. Mnangagwa will be incorporated into the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill by the Attorney General by 15 September 2019,” reads part of the resolutions.
Adv Mudenda added that the sticking points on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill were that the list on strategic minerals in Section 5 was not exhaustive as it left out gold and diamonds.
“On the farmer-miner relationship, it was agreed that there is need to balance the interests of both groups noting that mining operations should not reverse the gains of the Zimbabwe land reform programme,” said Adv Mudenda.
The original Bill had no clear definition of artisanal and small-scale miners, only defining them as “a holder of a mining location who is not a large-scale miner”.
Also outstanding was the lack of clear timeframes for mining dispute resolution.
The committee resolved that a steering committee to work on the Draft Bill and report to the Parly Committee should be set up.
It shall be made up of the Portfolio Committee on Mines, the Attorney General’s office, senior staff in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela).
The steering committee expects to complete its work by September 30, 2019.
The committee also resolved that Zela’s petition be expeditiously dealt with.
Adv Mudenda hailed the increase in petitions submitted to Parliament in line with Section 149(1) of the Constitution, saying it showed greater involvement of the people in legislative and national governance processes.
The petition, among other things, implores Parliament to ensure the public and civil society play a major role in legislative processes relating to responsible investments.
Zela’s petition was submitted on May 6, 2019.