By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, September 16, 2016 – THE Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) has condemned the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill as apportioning too much power into the office of the minister instead of addressing myriad of challenges affecting the sector.
CNRG executive director Farai Maguwu urged Zimbabweans to reject the proposed amendments with the contempt they deserve.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa had indicated that the amendments will mainly deal with five key areas but Maguwu argued that this has not been the case.
He said the amendments seeks to give the minister exclusive power, override the Environmental Management Act, create an inefficient Mining Affairs Board and fail to tackle the issue of transparency.
“Section 257 of the Bill seeks to destroy the effectiveness of the Environmental Management Act by overriding Statutory Instrument 92 of 2014. The Bill creates a fake Mining Affairs Board which comprises of Ministry officials and chaired by the Mines Secretary Francis Gudyanga of Dubai Diamond Exchange. There are no checks and balances in such sweetheart appointments,” he said.
Gudyanga was recently under fire for assuming several chair ship posts on boards within the mining industry hierarchy, which require independence as they report to him.
Maguwu further warned that the Bill risks creating a “monster Minister” who wields too much power on the mining sector as if running a separate republic.
“The Bill does not devolve decision making and benefit sharing to provinces thus promoting combined and uneven development in Zimbabwe. Local authorities must have a bigger say on natural resource decision making.
“It does not call for contract disclosure – it continues with a culture of secrecy and protection of the identity of the investor as enshrined in the principal Act,” argued Maguwu.
Several natural resources lobby groups had indicated that the amendments should deal with clauses on small-scale and artisanal miners, rural communities affected by mining activities, corporate social responsibility and rehabilitation of the environment after mining.