By Alois Vinga
MINES and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando faced the wrath of parliamentarians for maintaining laws, which continue exposing communities to losing land.
The legislative framework, it is argued, risks reversing the gains of the land reform exercise.
There are concerns by a section of stakeholders who believe that the bulk of the legislation governing the mining sector still uphold the colonialist values of not guaranteeing land use rights for the society’s under privileged classes.
In the past, the rural folk has been the hardest hit as they are forced to vacate their land to pave way for the mining projects despite having derived so little from the proceeds of extraction taking place in their ancestral lands.
Moving the motion in Parliament recently, Chegutu West legislator, Dexter Nduna described the Mines and Minerals Act of 1951 as ultra vires over other subsidiary Acts.
“It is the Constitution Section 72 (2) (c) which says the people of Zimbabwe should be enabled to assert their right to land ,but the Mines and Minerals Act in its current form is too moribund, rudimentary and antiquated.
“My question is; the Mines and Minerals Act, in its current form can actually repudiate the Agrarian Reform Act (2000), which was made to give back the land to formerly marginalised black majority.
“When is the Mines and Minerals Act (1951) coming to Parliament so that we can actually shred it and align it to other Acts of Parliament and to the current Constitution, in particular to Section 72 (7) (c)?,” he asked.
Mbizo lawmaker, Settlement Chikwinya raised a supplementary issue challenging the rights bestowed under Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs)
“It is with regards to the strength and conditions that come with the EPOs, applicants holding these instruments now have the right over all that area that he has applied for.
“For instance, the whole country has pending applications of EPOs and this is limiting land development by villagers and communal farmers. What is it that Chitando has in plan so that at least they expedite the processing of EPOs or to give back the powers to the villagers or communal farmers so that at least they can develop their land, and not be disturbed by the applications of EPOs?” he queried.
Harare North legislator, Rusty Markham also quizzed Chitando on issues pertaining to liabilities related to infrastructure replacement obligations.
“My question is – what is the Ministry or the Government’s policy on replacing either the infrastructure or the liability in moving people out of land that have been mined legally or illegally?,” he said.
However, without giving exact timelines, Chitando said plans were under way to address the anomalies under the impending amendments to the laws.
“Again, the process is drawn out and hence the amendments will soon come to Parliament.
“Also suffice to say that in 2018, the amendments had actually been approved by Parliament but they did not get signed by His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa having observed certain issues mostly concerning the administrative justice compliance in the Constitution.
“So these have now all been addressed and the Bill will be coming to Parliament in due course,” Chitando responded.
He added that when mining activities start, the relocation is usually done in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which would have been submitted to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).