A NATURAL resource governance watchdog, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), has expressed concern over President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s failure to reintroduce into the 10th Parliament bills on mineral management, amid concern that the country is plagued by illicit mineral leakages.
Zimbabwe has been losing at least US$100 million in illicit gold flows every month, amid growing calls for the country to implement legislation to halt the mineral leakages.
CRD said it had hoped that the government would resuscitate crucial amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act, Gold Trade Act, Precious Stones Act and formulation of a policy on rare earth minerals, in the 10th Parliament, to plug the mineral leakages.
Zimbabwe has been operating without a national policy on the trade on gemstones such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, which leaves room for illicit financial flows in the gemstone sector.
The country mines more than 30 semi-precious stones, most which are extracted by informal foreign prospectors from India, Mozambique and other countries.
However, only amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act have been reintroduced into the 10th Parliament.
“They (the Bills) were not sent back to Parliament. They were only proposed in the first session of the 9th Parliament. They were not returned even in the second, up until the fifth session,” James Mupfumi, the CRD director, told The NewsHawks.
“So we had hoped that the 10th Parliament would bring them back, even the Bill on devolution. For devolution, they had proposed the principal Bill on traditional leaders and others. All those were scrapped. When we followed up with the ministry, they said they would like to follow up with the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, then they would deal with the others. But then, I do not think there is political will on the part of the government to introduce these reforms because they are benefitting from the leakages.”
According to section 147 of the constitution, upon the dissolution of Parliament all proceedings pending at the time are terminated, and every Bill, motion, and other business lapses.
The lapse has also seen the Devolution Bill not being reintroduced, raising fears of a continuation of harmful mining practices by companies, with little benefit to immediate communities.
“Accentuating that the principles of good governance are achievable when power is devolved from central to lower tiers of government, the President committed to introduce the Provincial Councils Amendment Bill which is the principal Bill on devolution in the 1st Session of the 9th Parliament in 2018,” reads an analysis by the CRD.
“Accompanying bills to ensure requisite legislation on devolution proposed by the President were the Rural District Councils Amendment Bill, the Urban Councils Amendment Bill, Regional Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill and the Traditional Leaders Amendment Bill.
“Amendments to these bills were important to provide local authorities with autonomy to democratically govern their local affairs through provincial councils that will be established under devolution. Local authorities derive their mandate from over 20 pieces of legislation and central, among them is the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21.05).”
The CRD said the amendments had been intended to help empower local communities to ensure they benefit from resources extracted from their area.
For instance, tensions are still rising in the Chiadzwa diamond-rich fields, with community members and civil society demanding transparency in the disbursement of royalties by the government and mining companies to the local community.
According to the Zimbabwe Diamond Policy (ZDC), which governs the extraction of the precious mineral, companies in the extractive industry are supposed to give 5% of their profits to the community for developmental purposes.
However, as previously reported by The NewsHawks, mining companies have been insincere in developing Chiadzwa and other areas in Manicaland, creating a resource curse.
“Regressive fiscal tools in the Mines and Minerals Act and Rural District Councils Act make it impossible for local authorities to optimise local tax revenue from extractive industries. In Manicaland Province where precious minerals such as diamonds, gold and lithium are being extracted, mining is dominated by opacity, environmental degradation, exclusion, smuggling and disregard for human rights. Meanwhile, service delivery in both urban and rural communities has collapsed largely because tax base for local institutions is poor and unsustainable,” reads the CRD analysis.
“Other huge impediments in the existing laws include exclusive issuance of mining licences such as special mining grants and tribute agreements by the Mining Affairs Board without involvement of local communities. At the same time royalties from mining are centralised,” reads the analysis.
“During the life of the 9th Parliament, CRD relentlessly called for government to table these reforms for legislation because they were critical for citizens to derive quality service delivery and economic development from resources in their traditional communities. Government responded by producing ill-conceived principal bills on devolution and the mining sector that Parliament could not process.”