Zimbabwe: Mudenda Bemoans Govt Policy Inconsistencies in Diamond Sector

Zimbabwe National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda.

The country's policies in the lucrative diamond mining sector should remain consistent so as to attract investment and protect investors' property rights, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has demanded.

He made the call during a Review of Legislation and Policies Governing the Mining Industry in Zimbabwe organised by the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development in Mutare last week.

Mudenda pointed out in 2015 there was a policy shift by the government towards the consolidation of all diamond operations in Marange managed by the State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

However, he said there were some challenges with the consolidation of diamond operations which were observed by Parliament in 2016.

"For instance, in 2015 there was a policy shift by government towards consolidation of all diamond operations in Marange managed by State-owned entity, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC). The policy thrust had its own challenges as was highlighted in a report by the Committee on Mines and Energy in 2016," said Mudenda.

He highlighted some of the key findings by Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio Committee included the lack of capitalisation of the ZCDC to operate effectively as well as a violation of the property rights of investors during consolidation.

"In 2018, there was another policy shift and the Marange diamonds fields were opened to all investors. Again, it is critical that our diamond mining policies remain consistent to attract much-needed investment."

Mudenda added the Gold Trade Act should also have clear cut and consistent policies that protect the rights, safety, and well being of small-scale gold miners.

"There is no doubt that small-scale miners are making a significant contribution to the country's economy. For instance, in 2017, the sector accounted for 53% of the country's 24.8 tonnes of gold deliveries. Furthermore, this sector is a source of livelihood for over a million people," said Mudenda.

As such, the Speaker said there was a need to also address policy gaps in the Gold Trade Act, especially clauses that criminalise the possession of gold and in turn disempower the small-scale miners.

"I must venture to observe that this has been one of the causes of gold leakages in the mining industry," he said.

Mudenda further called for the need to formalise all artisanal and small-scale miners' operations so that they operate under safe conditions.

"In the last few years, we have lost many artisanal miners through unsafe mining practices and conditions as recorded in Battlefields in Kadoma, Nugget mines in Matobo, just to mention the two.

"The Safety and Health Fund, envisaged under the Mines and Mineral Amendment Bill, should a go a long way in ameliorating the scourge of disaster bedeviling the artisanal and small-scale miners in their mining ventures," he said.

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