fbpx
Friday, March 1, 2024
HomeNewsA closer look at artisanal Mining in Zimbabwe

A closer look at artisanal Mining in Zimbabwe

Questions on whether government should formalize or decriminalize artisanal gold mining, reign supreme as the RBZ treads a contradictory path to government’s outlaw of artisanal mining by decriminalizing gold possession, reports our Mutare based writer , Donald Nyarota

Zimbabwe’s central bank has ‘decriminalized’ gold possession contradicting government’s outlaw of artisanal gold mining, an untenable situation stakeholders say.

Stakeholders argue it is unsustainable in the long run, despite prudent short term benefits of increased productivity, to set policy measures which have no legal backing.

This comes in the backdrop of an announcement by Reserve Bank governor Dr John Mangudya in the Monetary Policy statement on adoption of measures to boost export earnings and accumulate foreign exchange reserves.

Part of the policy measures will see Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), official gold buyers, purchasing gold from artisanal miners on a no questions asked basis, notwithstanding government’s standing ban of illegal gold mining.

Under this initiative FPR will buy gold from artisanal miners through mobile buying centres to be deployed across the country, said Mangudya.

RBZ will also issue permits for buyers to cover mining areas with high activity of artisanal miners while in the long term the central bank will develop a database of artisanal miners to monitor production.

As questions rage over the sustainability of acquiring gold illegally and selling it legally dominate debate in the artisanal mining sector, stakeholders call for a holistic approach.

Call for holistic approach to artisanal mining

Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) director Farai Maguwu said government’s adoption of this piecemeal policy measure to deal with artisanal miners was ill advised.

He said government should adopt a holistic approach to the issues of artisanal mining by reviewing the Mines and Mineral Act, which he said was an albatross to development.

Without this legal approach to address all structural impediments bedeviling artisanal miners any policy measures will yield little results, argues Maguwu.

“That move by the RBZ governor to accept gold on a no questions asked basis is trying to deal with the matter on the other end of the spectrum,” said Maguwu.

“This contradiction where the RBZ is saying we will accept the gold yet the process of acquiring the gold itself is still illegal speaks to a matter of discord in the government.

“All this is emanating from structural impediments put in place against indigenous people by the archaic Mines and Mineral Act that was meant to facilitate the looting of our natural resources.

“We need the right legislation first then policies, because policies without legal backing will only achieve so much.”

ALSO ON 263Chat:  Police, Army in Joint CBD Patrols

Maguwu said in the Mines and Mineral Act should reflect modern trends in mining to ensure sustainability and integrate small scale miners in the equation.

“This issue of having a new legislation also speaks to government adopting modern trends by ensuring that the legal framework speaks to contemporary trends in the sector.

“It should be holistic in its approach,” he said.

A livelihood issue

Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Wellington Takavarasha said artisanal mining was a livelihood issue directly and indirectly affecting millions of families in Africa.

Takavarasha said the exponential increase of artisanal miners over the past decades, due to massive company closures, spoke to the need for government to formalize artisanal mining.

He said regional peers like Zambia had adopted classification upon realizing the potential of formalizing artisanal mining amid increasing numbers going underground in Zimbabwe.

Emirates

“The need to grant formal tributes to artisanal miners is a rationale that has been accepted by our regional peers Zambia in particular where miners are classified from artisanal, small scale and big miners.

“The whole of Africa is realizing that artisanal mining is a livelihood activity engaged in by citizens who want to escape clutches of poverty. In Zimbabwe this issue has been worsened by company closures and the impending drought situation will push more people as mining is not seasonal,” said Takavarasha.

Takavarasha said recent researches showed that 500 000 people were involved in artisanal mining while over 1, 5 million people were benefiting from the sector.

He said these numbers showed that there was huge potential for contribution into the fiscus if artisanal mining was formalized.

“What we are saying is that we need to formalize the artisanal miners and give them a proper place to contribute in the fiscus.

“Research shows that in Zimbabwe there are 500 000 people directly involved in artisanal mining and over 1, 5 million people benefiting from the activity.

“So even rough estimates show that there is huge potential and even the record of 17 tons of gold produced in 2004 when government relaxed its laws and there is potential to even surpass these figures,” he said.

Mthandazo Muhau president of Women in Mining said while the central bank measures were good, without legal basis it would achieve little to improve the plight of vulnerable women and children.

She said arbitrary arrests and fleecing of bribes continued against artisanal miners despite the move by RBZ to decriminalize possession.

“The move is very good but without support of law it does not work. As we speak arbitrary arrests against artisanal miner are still ongoing and some officers are requesting bribes and this puts pressure on the family especially women,” she said.

ALSO ON 263Chat:  President Mugabe Projects Percent Agricultural Growth

Muhau said any proposed legislation should place priority on women and children who are the most vulnerable artisanal miners.

She said there was also need to look at specific issues affecting the vulnerable groups in the sector to ensure sustainability and increased productivity.

“There are specific gender issues that need to be looked at when talking about artisanal mining because women and children are affected differently.

“We have approached the Mining portfolio committee and made submissions in that regard and the fact that there is nothing on that issue means we still need to do more to ensure progressive legislation that respects gender,” she said.

Takavarasha said at 150 000 women and children were directly involved in artisanal with over a million depending on the illegal mining activities.

“In terms of numbers women and children are bunched together and countrywide we have about 150 000 involved directly in artisanal mining and close to a million drawing their livelihoods around it,” he said.

Mthandazo Muhau president of Women in Mining said while the central bank measures were good, without legal basis it would achieve little to improve the plight of vulnerable women and children.

She said arbitrary arrests and fleecing of bribes continued against artisanal miners despite the move by RBZ to decriminalize possession.

“The move is very good but without support of law it does not work. As we speak arbitrary arrests against artisanal miner are still ongoing and some officers are requesting bribes and this puts pressure on the family especially women,” she said.

Muhau said any proposed legislation should place priority on women and children who are the most vulnerable artisanal miners.

She said there was also need to look at specific issues affecting the vulnerable groups in the sector to ensure sustainability and increased productivity.

“There are specific gender issues that need to be looked at when talking about artisanal mining because women and children are affected differently.

“We have approached the Mining portfolio committee and made submissions in that regard and the fact that there is nothing on that issue means we still need to do more to ensure progressive legislation that respects gender,” she said.

 

Share this article
Written by

263Chat is a Zimbabwean media organisation focused on encouraging & participating in progressive national dialogue

No comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

You cannot copy content of this page