By Daniel Chigundu
As Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and Thematic meetings begin this week, all eyes will be on the Mines and Mining Development Committee which stole the limelight in the 8th Parliament.
The committee which was arguably the best performing by any stretch or standard of measure already has the Mines Bill on its plate.
The Mines Bill was sent back to Parliament by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for various reasons chief among them the failure to clearly deal with conflicts between farmers and miners.
And because the Bill was superseded by the life of the 8th Parliament, the committee will literary be starting over the whole process including holding of public meetings to hear peoples’ views.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) Mines Committee chairperson Temba Mliswa said he will be inviting all the stakeholders in the mining sector to attend the public meetings.
“…So already I have told you we want all stakeholders to be there so that we are able to come up with a good mining framework which comes from the people because we legislators work for you.
“If you don’t give us work we will just make noise in Parliament and you end up complaining that we are busy making noise. Come up with position papers and we will debate them in Parliament,” he said.
Most public meetings which are held by Parliamentary Committees are marred by poor attendance owing to poor advertising from the Parliament.
Others have complained that meetings are usually held in hotels and lodges where most ordinary people are still afraid to visit.
Another section has complained about the language of the Bills which is usually too technical for ordinary people and there are no vernacular versions for people to easily understand the Bills hence the no-show.
Meanwhile, Honourable Mliswa also revealed that he will ensure that the much talked about Exploration Bill comes to light adding that the country cannot rely on private companies reports on the quantum of the mineral wealth.
“One of the things that I will ensure as chairperson of the committee is the Exploration Bill, I don’t trust anybody anymore because anybody who does it does it for himself, but we want if from a national perspective, what is the value and quantity of our minerals.
“Private companies are the ones who come to this country and they do their own exploration that is why they show a lot of interest because they know the value and quantity of minerals. We talk about diamonds and they have been there for how long but no one is able to give us a report.
“You tell us you know the wealth of our country and you say Zimbabwe is rich, it’s stupid. You can’t tell anybody that we are rich when you can’t tell them the amounts of money you have in your bank account its folly,” he said.
Zimbabwe is still using the Mines Act which was enacted during the time of the Rhodesia government which favoured the white community at the expense of the black majority.
The Mines Act gives prominence to mining over agriculture and yet agriculture is the mainstay of the country’s economy for both food security and export purposes.
The Mines Committee during its tenure is expected to deal with the ownership wrangles for Shabanie Mine, challenges at Hwange Colliery and controversial Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
According to the Supreme Court, ZCDC is an illegal entity and operating illegally, a development which could eventually see the Chinese companies coming back to Chiadzwa in Marange.
The committee will, however, be without John Holder and Peter Haritatos who are out of Parliament and Honourable Joel Gabbuzza who will be chairing the Energy and Power Development Committee.