- January 27, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
ECONOMIC growth at one of the country’s richest gold mining districts, Matobo in Matabeleland South, remains retarded as the local authority grapples to collect revenue from individuals and firms harnessing the yellow metal in the area.
Matobo Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Elvis Sibanda said the local authority was losing a lot in potential revenue in levies from numerous mines dotted around the district due to lack of a comprehensive database of mining activities in the area.
“The challenge we have in our efforts to collect levies from the mines in our area of jurisdiction is lack of a comprehensive database. Artisanal miners are of no fixed abode when it comes to the nature of their mining activities thus it’s difficult to monitor their operations.
“We have again written to the Ministry of Mines (and Mining Development) to supply us with a list of registered miners and recently we sent our staff comprising the Natural Resources officer and treasurer to Gwanda (Matabeleland South provincial mines office) to get an update of the database. Unfortunately, their filing system was in shambles thus we couldn’t be assisted on that regard.”
Matobo District has one of the biggest gold mining activities in Matabeleland South with 5 772 registered claims.
The province has consistently been the top gold producing province in the recent past years. In How Mine and Blanket Mine, the province has two producers in the top five of the country’s biggest gold producers. Not far off is Vubachikwe Mine in Gwanda. Also, in Gwanda are the province’s mid-tier producers, Farvic and Jessie mines.
Matobo’s gold extraction activities are mainly concentrated in Sun Yet Sen and areas around as well as those bordering Maphisa Growth Point.
Mr Sibanda said over the past few years the local authority has managed to compile its own database of mines operating within its area of jurisdiction through documenting those registered with local gold ore milling centres.
“Of those (mines) that are registered with milling companies very few are paying and as a result it affects us in terms of development. As at December 2019 we are being owed $1 050 270 in levies by some of the 109 mines registered in our books although the number of mines far outstrips that since we don’t have a comprehensive database to account for all of them.
“Already (this year) some have renewed their licenses without paying levies. We support the issue of mines as part of the development actors, they create employment, boost the economy of the country even at local level. They contribute positively in the development of the economy but be that as it may be, they should still religiously pay to the local authority what is due to them so that we also exercise our obligations,” he said.
Mr Sibanda said the Association of Rural District Councils was seized with the matter of non-payment of levies by mining houses.
“Through our association (Association of Rural District Councils) we engaged even His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) last year on the issue of miners who are not paying levies and the strategy was that Government should come-up with a system or policy or law that will compel miners to get a clearance certificate from local authorities indicative that they have paid council levies . . . the Minister of Mines (Winston Chitando) made it clear that he buys into the idea that the miners should pay council levies before their licences are renewed. There is no law currently, that law hasn’t been put in place and already some have renewed their licences without paying levies,” he said.
Matobo Miners Association chairman Mr Khumbulani Moyo said most small-scale miners in the district were into tribute agreements thus making it difficult for them to pay levies to the local authority as in most of the cases there would be uncertainty on who should pay between the proprietor or lessee.
“The challenge is that most of the miners in Matobo have entered into tributary agreements with owners of the mines while some are in different forms of agreements with owners of claims, which makes it impossible for them to pay their levies. In some of the cases you have most that would have pegged their claims in areas with very little deposits as most of the gold rich areas would have been taken by those owning tributes. We have been engaging council, especially during their budget consultative meetings relating to the plight of most of our miners and their inability to pay and I am glad of late our relations with the local authority have been cordial,” he said.
The Sunday News