- August 13, 2020
- Posted in NEWS
Transparency and accountability will be at the death bed if the Mines Affairs Board composition is not regularized to include miners, civic society and stakeholders, as powers will be vested in the ministry.
Speaking during a Mining Policy Dialogue on the impending Mines and Mineral Bill which will soon be tabled for ascension before the executive, industry players say the board could vest too much power in the ministry.
The virtual policy dialogue organized by Transparency International Zimbabwe, Mutare chapter brought together policy experts, legal practitioners, small scale and artisanal miners to discuss the current mines policy review.
There was a concurrence that for mining affairs to be transparent and accountable there should be balance on the board between the policymaker and the producers of mineral or those affected by mining operations.
Participants also said the policy should provide safeguards to ensure that the quorum reflects this envisaged diversity of composition of the Board as there is danger that a quorum may
comprise merely of government officials.
Nigel Sithole a legal practitioner and secretary for the Young Miners Foundation (YMF) board said to promote good corporate governance and independence the board should have a cross representation of sectors.
He said while it was welcome that under the proposed provisions the board will meet regularly it should include players from the academia, civil society, young miners (artisanal or small scale), large scale miners and community representatives.
“It’s a very important board in the management of natural resources extraction in Zimbabwe, but there are only six seats and there was a call to increase the seats on board. There needs to be a balance between policymakers and those that produce gold or are actively involved in extracting the minerals.
“It’s a welcome provision in this new bill now that the board will meet once every two months because historically a board will just sit once and not meet regularly, their whole tenure would end with them just meeting once or never.
“Independence of the board is another issue because the Permanent secretary is supposed to chair of the board and there have been issues with this because he is the implementer and is already chair of the ministry.
“It’s ridiculous in my opinion, there is no independence why create a board in the first place that is run by the same person who runs the Ministry, there have been calls that the secretary should not even be on the board,” said Sithole.
The Mines and Minerals Portfolio Committee in 2018 led by then-chair Themba Mliswa also tabled similar misgivings aired during public hearings where “it clearly emerged that the majority of views did not want the Secretary of Mines to chair this Board. The fear was that the Permanent Secretary will undertake multiple roles: that of advisory, of oversight and implementation.
“The views of the people were that this should be an independent Board which makes recommendations which can either be adopted or rejected by the Secretary,” read a report by the committee.
During a recent Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Review of Legislation, Minister of Mines Winston Chitando revealed that the Bill which was turned down by the President citing reservation from the constitution is now being finalized.
He said the once the reservations of the President are factored in the legislation will be ready for debate before end of August and pave way for amendment of other acts while an orderly mining policy concept will also be completed.
“The amendments are around the corner, recently the AG spent the whole week working on the amendments and they need another session or two to finalize those amendments.
Amendments to the Gold Trade Act, Precious Stones Act and the Mines and Minerals development policy, we have the principles of these acts but there is no way we can push these until we have concluded the Mines Acts.
“As soon as amendments are conclude we will be able to finalize those three issue all of which have drafts in place,” said Chitando.