Decriminalisation of gold possession looms

Africa Moyo Business Reporter—
THE new Mines and Minerals Amendment Act is expected to create a favourable operating environment for small-scale miners, who are currently bearing the brunt of a punitive colonial law that criminalises their activities. The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is currently being reviewed by Parliament. Amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05), which was enacted in 1963, have been in the pipeline since 2007, but have since been accelerated under the auspices of the ease of doing business. Government, through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), is leading the reforms under the Rapid Results Initiative.

A Technical Working Group has since been created by Government to ensure that all amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act conform to the aspirations of the ease of doing business reforms.

Team leader of the Technical Working Group, Professor Ashok Chakravarti told The Herald Business last week that: “The Bill is with Parliament and is going to be reviewed by the Portfolio Committee (on Mines and Energy). That review has not been completed.

“There will be some input coming from this ease of doing business (Technical Working) Group; the input will be given to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee,” said Prof Chakravarti.

Prof Chakravarti referred questions on some of the new provisions in the Bill Dr Daniel Shumba, the chairperson of the Mines Portfolio Committee.

Dr Shumba’s mobile phone was unreachable by the time of going to print.

But Prof Chakravarti said his Technical Working Group wants the Bill “to be the one which is going to provide a favourable environment for the mining sector”.

“In particular, we want it to provide a favourable environment to makorokoza (small miners) because you know they are almost four million of them now and they are producing 10 tonnes of gold.

“In the old colonial Act they are all illegal, they are criminals; so we must change all those things and we must make them legal. We must give them incentives, we must support them because they are doing a wonderful thing for the country.

“So those are some of the things that should be coming in the new Act to make sure that there is broad participation of people in mining, and done in a proper way and we increase production and exports.”

Once small-scale miners are catered for in the new Mines law; that would bring closure to a long running issue that has literally divided Government. The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development together with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), have been lobbying for the decriminalisation of gold possession.

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