Government will only renew mining licenses to companies that produce receipts to show that they remit royalties to local municipalities, a top official has said.
Responding to requests by local Chiefs to ring-fence local community interests by ensuring that mining companies contribute to local development, Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing July Moyo said government was willing to enforce compliance through licensing procedures.
Moyo said government through the Ministry of Mines has made an undertaking to ensure that only miners that pay royalties to local authorities will have their licenses renewed.
He said these are part of efforts by government to address challenges cited by Chiefs and local municipalities to ensure that those funds from natural resources cascade to local economic development.
"Mining takes place in our rural areas, it is going to go ahead, and as chiefs you want to have a say in how mining is taking place.
"Some Chiefs have complained to the Minister of Mines, in front of the President and the minister said that I will not renew any licenses of a miner until that miner has acquitted funds that they ought to give to a local council.
"As government, we expect that these monies are channeled to communities for development purposes and we cannot have a situation where a miner comes and extracts what they want without remitting anything to local council.
"We have laws already in place that requires that mining companies pay royalties to local authorities so the Minister of Mines has said that we will not renew licenses to companies that do not pay royalties," said Moyo.
He added, "So the Minister will only renew a license once the miner has shown proof that they have paid their dues to a local authority, these rates will now have to be used and channeled towards development."
Centre for Research and Development director James Mupfumi however rubbished these claims as playing to the gallery, arguing that government should just enforce the current legal regime.
He said such pronouncements are only meant to appease audiences without any commitment from government to solve the current challenges faced by local authorities to collect revenue from mining companies.
"There is no sincerity on the part of government in terms of remitting revenues to local authorities or improving governance practices in exploitation of natural resources in the country.
"It is the President who made reservations to the drafting of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill in 2018, up to now he is still holding on to the bill. If the President was sincere for power to be devolved and for these local authorities to have legal power to collect revenue this amendment bill could have been processed through parliament.
"We have made recommendations that local authorities must have powers to collect revenue and those powers must be enshrined in the amendment of Mines and Minerals Act and the President and his government are holding on to this bill because they do not want this power to be devolved.
"The sincerity of the President is realized when bills and laws governing natural resources are functional and processed through parliament," said Mupfumi.