By Wisdom Mumera
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy Honourable Temba Mliswa has commended Parliament for passing the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill hailing the move as a first step in redressing countless anomalies in the minerals sector.
The Bill sailed through Parliament on Thursday and is now in the Senate after some amendments were made to it.
Speaking during a Sapes Trust hosted public dialogue on the bill Mliswa said the mining sector could be beneficial to the country if some grey areas were dealt with first.
“We have minerals that can be used to develop this country for the benefit of future generations, however we should be careful about the current systems”.
“Currently we have the push for artisanal miners by various civic groups but no one is talking about the environmental degradation, the open pits they leave behind and the danger to livestock,” he said.
Mliswa added that due to this tourism was bound to suffer whilst the eminence of the mining claim over the farming claim was also another discrepancy that needed to be remedied.
The amendments to the mining bill allow the mines minister, after consulting with the president, to designate any mineral as strategic if “it would be in the interests of the development of the mining industry”.
Designating a mineral as strategic grants the government greater control over its mining.
Mining accounts for more than half of Zimbabwe’s export earnings, but investors have stayed away from the sector due to vague indigenisation laws pushed for by former President Mugabe.
In a new progressive change the mining bill will also officially recognise small-scale miners, who produce more than 40% of Zimbabwe’s gold output, meaning their operations will no longer be considered illegal.
True to Mines Minister Winstone Chita do the new bill does not require mining firm to register on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Chitando is on record saying the requirement had caused panic among foreign mining firms and it was contrary to the government’s push to open the country to foreign investors.
“For the record, Zimbabwe will not compel companies to list on the stock exchange. This does not fit into the new economic dispensation,” he told a business gathering recently.