SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda says Zimbabwe is failing to realise the substantial value of its mineral resources, often signing heavily skewed agreements with foreign investors that have left the country economically vulnerable.
Mudenda made the remarks in his keynote address at a workshop held in Mutare on Tuesday for the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development on the Review of Legislation and Policies Governing the Mining Industry in Zimbabwe.
Mudenda said the incessant delays in finalising the Mines and Mineral Amendment Bill have become a stumbling block to the speedy realisation of Zimbabwe’s full mining potential.
“No serious investor is prepared to venture into a sector that has a nebulous legal framework which does not guarantee security of tenure and assured return on investment backed by the clarity of law,” he said.
“I must confess that the exploration of minerals remains a sine qua non condition precedent in the exploitation of our mineral resources,” Mudenda added.
Sadly, he said, the Africa Mining Vision (2009) highlights that most African nations “lack basic geological mapping or at best are poorly mapped”.
He said it was sad to note that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development continues to rely on old topographical maps in the issuance of mining title.
“Some of these maps are barely visible hence the need for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to adequately resource the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to complete the establishment of the computerized cadastre system,” he said.
Mudenda said it was imperative that the public is fully knowledgeable of the quantities, location and types of minerals, which the country is endowed with.
“This information is critical during negotiations of mining agreements, without which the country becomes vulnerable to signing agreements that are heavily skewed in favour of the marauding foreign investors,” he noted.
“In the process, our citizens will be nakedly prejudiced through an insidious economic colonialism. Accordingly, I challenge the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to robustly engage the University of Zimbabwe to leverage on its sophisticated ICT hub for accelerated exploration of our minerals,” said Mudenda.
He encouraged legislators to introspect and finalise the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill and the review of other mining laws and policies.
“We are not on a witch hunting exercise but we are being compliant with the national Constitution,” he said.