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Discretionary Powers Of Ministers In The Appointment Of Parastatal Boards Questioned

MUTARE– Centre for Research and Development director James Mupfumi has expressed concern over the discretionary powers given to ministers in the appointment of parastatal boards saying it is compromising the extractive sector.

By Donald Nyarota

Making oral submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines on Mines and Mineral Bill public hearings, Mupfumi said laws governing mining sector are compromised due to the discretionary powers given to the executive.

He said the mining board should not be appointed at the whims of a minister.

“What we see as important is that the mining affairs board be composed of representatives from local government like the Rural District Councils, community based organisation, EMA, and ZIMRA should also be on the board including traditional leaders.

“The mining affairs board should not only be at the discretion of the minister in terms of its composition, that is where our legal frameworks are failing us a nation because they place discretionary power on the ministers , these are weaknesses in our laws which are gaps that we need to plug,” he said.

Cosmus Sunguro, secretary general of Zimbabwe Diamond Allied Workers Union, said government should ensure consistency on provisions of the law to protect the environment.

Sunguro said proposed amendments which place discretionary powers to the minister on river bed mining, already outlawed as an environmental concern, was a drawback on development.

He said by placing power in the hands of a minister whose primary role is to promote mining, the environment would be negatively impacted, while opening avenues of corruption.

“Our history shows us that if we place too much powers in the hands of one person governance principles are bound to be violated. As such we are concerned on the issue or river bank mining which has been outlawed on the behest of environmental protection.

“If we now seek to amend such progressive clauses and place the power in a minster to have the discretion to allow such retrogressive practices we are opening the door to corruption and abuse of powers,” he said.

ZELA legal officer Josephine Chiname said the petition was centered on a call for responsible investment, respect for human rights and the need for mining to stimulate economic development.

Chiname said mining activities should be guide by international and regional standards that ensures extraction activities do not infringe on human rights and harm the environment.

“ZELA’s petition arose from a campaign that was done in conjunction with mining communities based on the belief that mining has the potential to turn around our economic fortunes, but for mining to be sustainable for posterity mining has to be responsive to environmental needs.

“We are also expecting that communities in resource rich areas can also benefit from the mining activities, through various means including infrastructure development, local content development as well as skills transfers in communities.

“We are therefore calling for responsible investment in mining which can leverage economic development across sectors, benefits for communities and respect of human rights. Mining should not infringe on human rights and international treaties which Zimbabwe is a signatory as country,” said Chiname.

 

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