Bulawayo — The Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) has implored Government to speed up the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Bill, which is set to address sticking issues in the mining sector.
President Mnangagwa last year ordered that the Mines and Minerals Bill be taken back to Parliament for further scrutiny after miners cried foul that they were left out of the crafting process.
Since then, there has been little progress in the process, a situation that has hampered progress in the mining sector, which is the largest foreign currency earner.
Addressing delegates during a Small-Scale Miners Conference at Mine Entra in Bulawayo on Friday, ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya called on Government to speed up the amendment progress in amending the bill.
"The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, is an issue of great concern," she said. "We, therefore, implore government to expedite the amendment process so that a number of issues are addressed. I am reliably informed that the consultative processes has already begun and a steering committee will soon be put in place."
Ms Rushwaya said the Bill will address a number of issues, including formalisation of small-scale miners, plug gold leakages and illicit gold trading, as well as casualties within the mining sector.
"We have a number of issues that hinge on the Mines and Minerals Bill, hence the call for its speedy crafting and conclusion," she said. "We have issue like escalating illicit minerals deals predominantly in the gold sector, the loss of employment in the formal sector also has been escalating.
"There has been escalating issue of disputes between farmers and miners stalling progress in the mining sector. The Mines and Minerals Bill is set to tackle all these issues, chief among them formalisation of small-scale miners putting an end to these challenges."
Ms Rushwaya said legal battles within the sector have also been stalling progress as the leadership has had to spend more time in courts.
"We were elected into office last year in June, but let me hasten to say we have been fighting legal battles week in and week out at the expense of progress," she said. "This has been an issue of concern and as small scale miners we are saying let us stop fighting and focus on mining.
"We should avoid fighting for personal gains, let us be peaceful miners."
Mines and Minerals Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura said the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Mining had already embarked on public consultations.
"The Mines and Minerals Amendment is now work in progress," he said. "The parliamentarians have already embarked on public consultations. The bill is set to address the challenges as mentioned by Ms Rushwaya, chief among them the formalisation of the miners as they are currently contributing 60 percent of gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers."
Deputy Minister Kambamura said the Bill is also set to tackle the disputes which emanated in 2008 soon after the land reform programme.
He said Government had escalated efforts to bring sanity in the mining sector by launching a safety awareness camping to avoid further loss of lives.
"We are working with ZMF in carrying out awareness campaigns so that the miners remain safe," said Deputy Minister Kambamura. "We also applaud ZMF on its partnerships with civic organisations to try and bring sanity in the mining sector."