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‘US$12bn mining economy unattainable without policy’

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ZIMBABWE, which seeks to achieve the US$12 billion mining economy by 2023, is still operating without a mining development policy, a situation that has created a lot of policy and legal reversals as well as inconsistencies in the sector, The NewsHawks has learnt.

DUMISANI NYONI

In its 2022 budget submission, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, (Zela) said while the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 and the US$12 billion mining economy seek to turn around the fortunes of the country on the back of mining, Zimbabwe is operating without a mining development policy.

“Due to the absence of a mining development policy in Zimbabwe, there is no clear overarching mining policy direction on exploration, production, beneficiation, marketing and transparency and accountability of mineral revenue,” the organisation said.

 “This has often created lots of policy and legal reversals and inconsistencies.”

Zela said a case in point is the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment policy which has been subjected to several amendments since 2008 when it was launched. It said the government, over the years, has been making efforts to develop a mining policy, but these efforts have not yet led to a final policy being adopted and implemented.

“Finalisation and ensuring that transparency and accountability aspects are incorporated into the policy in line with the constitution of Zimbabwe and international best practices like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) will assist in defining government’s overall intention, direction and measures that need to address cross-cutting issues including illicit financial flows (IFFs), shareholding arrangements and community benefit sharing,” the environmental lawyers said.

“By finalising the mining policy and implementing it, the government will also be providing the basis of amending laws regulating mining in Zimbabwe.”

Apart from the mining policy, Zela said there is a need for the government to develop policies for unique mineral value chains like gold and gemstones.

“In the gold sector, there is no clarity with regards to the government’s policy direction on who should invest in the gold value chain, models of partnerships within the sector, accountability of gold including measures to curb criminality and illicit gold trade,” it said.

The need for a gemstone policy framework is evident, Zela said. In its recent IFFs study in the gemstone sector, Zela pointed that citizens, local authorities and the central government were not optimising benefiting from the gemstone value chain due to lack of clarity on policy and legislation on the production, trade beneficiation, model of partnerships, among other issues.

 While NDS 1 alludes to the importance of transparency and accountability as a prerequisite for achieving both the US$12 billion mining economy and the target to turn the country into a middle-income country by 2030, Zela noted that the 2022 national budget strategy does not mention the need to adopt a comprehensive policy framework to address the opacity in the mining sector.

Zimbabwe has not adopted EITI despite the government’s renewed interests to join EITI as expressed in the 2019 and 2020 national budget statements. Zela said the amendment to the Mines Act which provides opportunities for the country to strengthen transparency and accountability in the mining sector is yet to be finalised. During the Mid-Term Budget Review presented in July, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube indicated that the Bill was being discussed at cabinet level.

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