THE Precious Stones Trade Amendment Bill on Wednesday went through its second and third readings in Parliament without amendments despite debate on the effectiveness of the proposed five-year mandatory custodial sentence for its contravention.
align=justify>The Bill, which, among other things, seeks to redefine precious stones and make provisions for rationalisation of mining, was tabled before the House last week.
It sailed through and will soon be referred to the Attorney-General’s Office after Mines and Mining Development minister Amos Midzi clarified some “grey areas” in the Bill and agreed to incorporate suggestions by members.
The Bill is in response to challenges brought about by the recent discovery and illegal mining of diamonds in Marange.
It proposes a five-year mandatory sentence for contravening various sections, among other deterrent measures for individuals and companies.
However, Bulawayo South legislator David Coltart argued that there was need to give the courts the discretion to decide on sentences depending on the circumstances.
Following submissions by Shadreck Chipanga (Zanu PF, Makoni East) and Margaret Zinyemba (Zanu PF, Mazowe West) and Gabuza Joel Gabbuza (MDC, Binga), it was agreed that a minimum five-year mandatory custodial sentence should be deterrent enough.
Chipanga said the purpose of the legislation was to deter would-be offenders from committing such offences and such mandatory sentences would go a long way towards curbing illegal mining and smuggling of precious stones.
Midzi told the House that his ministry would incorporate all the submissions made by members, adding that his ministry would also carry out training for the police, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials and other personnel involved in the mining, marketing and protection of precious stones. — Staff Writer.