Artisanal and Small-scale miners who form partnerships have been encouraged to have a constitution and syndicate agreement as this will safeguard them from future challenges an expert has said.
By Keith Sungiso
Addressing miners in a presentation “Priority rights and over pegging” on the Mining Zimbabwe WhatsApp platform Mrs. Thammary Brenda Vhiriri a legal expert said small-scale miners don’t anticipate future problems when entering into partnerships. This was after many inquiries on syndicate challenges being experienced by miners across the country.
“The issue is that most people just get a certificate of registration as a syndicate then they just go and work. You don’t anticipate future problems”.
“You need a constitution and syndicate agreement that will regulate the way you conduct business. Who votes, who works, who sponsors, how does one get removed from the group, what happens to syndicate members’ shares if they die. Such things you all need to sign for. So that you will use that in future in case something happens,” Vhiriri said.
Members of the group also raised an issue of Accredited Agents who connive with certain members of the syndicate to unceremoniously remove some members without following due process. Vhiriri clarified that Accredited Agents are more of employees.
“Please note an Accredited Agent is more of an employee for you. He acts on your behalf instead of all of you visiting the office they go on your behalf. He has no authority to remove or summon you for a meeting,” she said.
She also touched on greed in the syndicates that leads to the unfair removal of some members.
“… one can be subjected to victimisation, especially when people work vakawanda (in numbers). If care is not taken some people will dominate the syndicate and when things start improving they will strategically change all the old members. So it’s everyone’s right to be removed through a proper process. There are issues of death of syndicate members yet they would have contributed to the development of the entity even though small. It’s only fair the members to agree on what to do,” said Vhiriri.
Vhiriri also said small-scale miners should be empowered to recognise that there are running a business for them to be taken seriously by potential investors.
“Let’s empower our miners to appreciate their efforts and recognise that they are running a business. Just like shop owners at growth points, they still get a liquor licence and they are referred to as businessperson. We need to get to a level where small-scale mining is not looked down upon, or associated with poverty because it’s not. Miners need to properly formalise their work. Lack of some form of stability or security is the reason why businesses, sponsors and investors may not take small-scale miners seriously because they know that any other day the syndicate members can just change so how will I follow my investment,” Vhiriri said.
Thammary Brenda Vhiriri is a practising Attorney, Conveyancer and Notary Public at Zuze Law Chambers, registered with the Law Society of Zimbabwe with a wealth of experience in Land and Mining Law, Commercial Law, Constitutional Law, Property Law. She was part of the presentation in her personal capacity and can be contacted on email [email protected]