CHAIRMAN of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy Edward Chindori-Chininga has said government is giving a raw deal to communities in diamond-rich Chiadzwa because of selfish interests.
Chindori-Chininga, a member of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and a former Mines minister, said new mining regulations to be introduced “soon” lacked consultation and were evidence of how resource-rich communities were being sidelined.
He was speaking at a multi-stakeholder mining transparency conference hosted by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association and Southern African Resource Centre Watch in Harare on Wednesday.
Community representatives from Chiadzwa and Mutoko, a hub of black granite, were present at the meeting and expressed anger over forced relocations being carried out to make way for commercial mining in Chiadzwa.
“There are a number of statutory instruments that are coming up to deal with small-scale mining participation in Chiadzwa that are going to work out issues of beneficiation and so on,” said Chininga.
“But the problem is that the government is selfish. What is really needed normally is that let us say you are starting a law on environmental agency, you need to go out there and involve communities and discuss with people involved to hear views before you structure anything.”
He refused to divulge contents of the planned new regulations, saying it was the Mines ministry’s mandate to make relevant public announcements.
It was not possible to get a comment from Mines minister Obert Mpofu. But he has previously stated that he plans to introduce amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act to provide for local beneficiation, among other issues.
Chindori-Chininga, MP for Guruve South, raised the issue at a time when the government is facing criticism from villagers and civil society for failing to consult with villagers from Chiadzwa on issues to do with relocation and compensation.
A recent visit to Arda Transau by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that some families were affected by the relocation and were now living in disused tobacco barns at the abandoned farm, 60 km from Chiadzwa.
“The problem that is happening sometimes is that government goes ahead and drafts its own ways of thinking how they should move and they have a limited consultation where they may end up consulting the Chamber (of Mines) but not going any further yet the interests are bigger,” Chindori-Chininga said.
Some community representatives from Mutoko community asked why they were never informed of the instruments.
“Chairman, we are also involved in negotiations with the Ministry of Mines on how the Mutoko community can also be part of the Bills which are being considered in parliament,” Chindori-Chininga said. “It’s only today that we hear that something already is being submitted through cabinet it can go to the Attorney-General.”
Chindori-Chininga’s committee is yet to produce a report on an investigation on Chiadzwa operations that was bitterly opposed by Mpofu.