Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
A FRESH public consultation process will be conducted for the Mines and Minerals Act and the Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Amendment Bills, which failed to sail through all the stages of Parliament in the Fourth Session.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy member, Mr John Holder, who is also the legislator for Zvishavane-Ngezi constituency, told small-scale miners at a meeting in Bulawayo last week that:
“Only the Pan African Minerals University has seen the light of day after going through all the stages of the Parliament process, before its approval by President (Mugabe).
“The reason for the speedy process was that the Bill was removed from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and sent to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education because it was considered to be the appropriate line ministry”.
Mr Holder said amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act and the Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill, failed to sail through the Parliamentary process due to a number of contentious issues raised during the public hearings. He said as a result of this failure, fresh public consultations regarding amendments to the two proposed bills would be repeated during the Fifth Session of (the 8th) Parliament that was officially opened by President Mugabe last week.
“The Minerals Exploration Bill lapsed following the end of the third session of Parliament in September 2016. The fourth session ended in August and Parliament is now in its fifth session and the Minister of Mines and Mining Development has not re-introduced the Bill.
“There was brief debate on the Bill during the third session of Parliament but the debate did not proceed because session of Parliament came to an end,” said Mr Holder. Amendment to the Mines and Minerals Act were gazetted in August 2016 and Parliament conducted public hearings in September of the same year.
“In the fourth session of Parliament, the Bill only went through the first reading stage and was sent to the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) for scrutiny. The PLC produced a report highlighting that the Bill did not violate any provisions of the constitution. “However, the Fourth Session of Parliament came to the end and the Bill was not passed,” he said.
Mr Holder said their committee has sought audience with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Walter Chidhakwa, to understand the delays on the two bills, with the possibility of holding a workshop with the committee to discuss the contentious issues that arose during public consultations and also from the committee’s own deliberations.
“There were many contentious issues that were raised during the public consultations, which include the unclear reasons behind the classification of the strategic minerals; the composition of the mining affairs board particularly on the role of the secretary of mines.
“Parliament is currently having consideration a new Bill known as the Public Entities and Corporate Governance that seeks to address the role of permanent secretaries in relation to boards and parastatals under their ministries,” said Mr Holder.
“This Bill seeks to address issues of good corporate governance and the committee on mines and energy will have under consideration some of the provisions in that Bill, in order to improve the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.”
He said other contentious issues include the impact associated with the introduction of the cadastre mining system, especially on artisanal and small-scale mining, whether the Bill will be able to address the farmer-miner relations and the impact of the “use-it-or-lose it policy” particularly on large-scale producers who own numerous claims.