GOVERNMENT is racing against time to have the revised Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, whose crafting is still in progress, is passed into law before the end of the 9th Parliament.
Almost three years ago the Bill had made its way to the President who recommended that some issues be amended resulting in fresh consultations and further cleaning by Parliament and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
In February this year, the Bill was subjected to public scrutiny and paved the way for stakeholder consultations by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines countrywide.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the mining conference being held by the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe in Victoria Falls yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary, Pfungwa Kunaka, said the Bill has received much attention as it contains critical provisions like corporate social responsibility and managing the environment, which are critical for the development of the mining sector.
He said at this stage the Bill is getting the final comments from the Portfolio Committee, which is synthesising contributions that came from stakeholders.
The Parliamentary legal committee has also provided comments on the Bill, which Kunaka said were negative but would not derail the process, as there is a constitutional way of handling the issue.
“The adverse report has come but unfortunately the comment is adverse but it doesn’t mean all is lost.
So, when you receive an adverse comment from the Parliamentary committee, we go through a process of engagement to understand what they are saying to get some justification, so this is the process we are in now,” he said.
“Once we finish our consultations with the Parliamentary legal committee the Bill will be taken to the National Assembly for 1st reading and then to Senate and to the President.
“One thing I have to mention is that time is not on our side, we have to conclude within the current sitting of the 9nth Parliament of Zimbabwe.”
The country will go into harmonised elections on August 23 following the proclamation by President on Wednesday, which means Parliament could be dissolved any time.
“We are looking at Parliament being dissolved but I am sure we still have some space of a number of weeks where the remaining process of the Bill is going to be concluded,” said Kunaka.
He said the Government, particularly, the Ministry of Mines’ approach was to take on board everything that has come from Parliament Legal Committee and stakeholders and where there are diverging views, those will be discarded so that the law is balanced.
Kunaka said the Bill is necessary and a lot of work has gone into it from stakeholders.
“We are confident that with the input that we have and the process that we have covered so far. The process is going to be concluded and this Bill enacted into law before the current Parliament dissolves,” he added.
Speaking earlier during conference proceedings, participants debated on whether the Bill should make it mandatory for companies to give back to communities through corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Contributing on the issue, Budget, Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Committee chair, Dr Mathew Nyashanu, said CSR is a public relations gesture, which cannot be mandatory but should be the benevolence of a company’s board and shareholders.
Mines Portfolio Committee chair Edmond Mkaratigwa said it is mandatory that the country has an Act to address issues within the mining sector.
The Bill will ring-fence nine strategic minerals to ensure that the country derives maximum benefits out of the resources that are fast gaining global significance.
These include lithium, diamonds, rare earth minerals, copper, nuclear energy source materials, mineral oils, gaseous hydrocarbons, coal and nickel.