New farmers impinge on mining

Godfrey Marawanyika

A PARLIAMENTARY Committee on Mines, Energy, Environment and Tourism has raised concern on the effects of land reform which it says is now causing friction between miners and new farmers.


The committee has accused the new farmers of plotting to take over mines.


In a report the committee said the problem, which is mostly prevalent in Kadoma and Masvingo districts, seemed to emanate from the subdivision of large commercial farms into smallholder plots under the A1 model.


“Most of the land has been reduced to less than 100 hectares. Previously the farmer and the miner could coexist without much friction as the farmer could utilise one area while the miner could peg the remaining unutilised areas of the farm,” the report said.


“In some instances, the miners had acquired mining rights before the land reform and new farmers now showing interest in mining as well are threatening to take over mines.”


In its first report, the 12-member committee chaired by Gabbuza Joel Gabuza of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said in some cases the miner had to peg in small farmers’ plots by consent upon discovery of the claim, adding that in such cases consent was reached on condition the two enter into a joint venture.


“There is, therefore, need for the Act to be amended to provide for a framework for the two to co-exist in harmony under the new farming dispensation,” the report said.


Gabuza’s team also raised concern on the wanton destruction of the environment by alluvial gold panners whose operations it says need to be “reined in”.


The probe team said there was lack of monitoring of gold panning along major rivers by local authorities, which they viewed as the training ground for illegal mining activities.


“Your Committee was informed that the Statutory Instrument restricts panning activities to certain areas along the rivers, which might not necessarily contain the mineral and therefore faces resistance from panners,” the report said.


“There was therefore need to put in place effective enforcement mechanism in terms of implementing the statutory instrument.”


The committee recommended that there was a need for the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act, which should be synchronised with those of the Environment Management Act.


“Judging by the nature of concerns raised by the various stakeholders, it is evident the Mines and Minerals Act in the present form is flawed in most respects and hence management to some provisions would enable it to be user-friendly legislation,” the report said.


The land reform has been marred by lawlessness. The international community has condemned the violent and discriminatory land reform. President Robert Mugabe has however insisted that the reform is beneficial to locals.

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