BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/STEPHEN CHADENGA

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has been urged to include policy reforms in the 2021 national budget which will decriminalise artisanal mining activities, given the reports that small-scale miners were actually remitting more gold than big mines to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

This was said by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela) in its 2021 budget proposal paper presented in Parliament early this week.

The organisation has also petitioned Parliament to investigate machete gangs that are terrorising artisanal miners.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda has since referred the petition to the Edmond Mkaratigwa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines.

“Formalisation of the sector will help to reduce revenue illicit flows from the artisanal and small scale miners. There are low levels of tax compliance in the ASM players, largely because they are treated as illegal and there is inadequate financial support to the sector,” the Zela statement on the 2021 budget read.

“The informality of the ASM activities has jeopardised the capacity of the sector to contribute towards domestic resource mobilisation of the country.”

In 2019, artisanal miners accounted for 63% (17 478,74kgs) of total gold deliveries (27 650,26 kgs) to the government’s sole buyer.

Zela noted that the artisanal miners sector had also been associated with a number of disputes arising from multiple claim ownership.

“There is no transparency in the awarding of claims, and this has fuelled corruption, leading to loss of claims by women and men in the sector. Ultimately, this has affected livelihoods for a number of women.”

Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) director Wonder Phiri yesterday said women should play an active role in the mining sector to promote economic recovery.
Phiri said this during the launch of a collaborative research done by CCMT and the Midlands State University Gender Institute which looked at challenges and opportunities for women in Zvishavane district.

“This research paper is being launched at a time the country’s economic recovery is being anchored on the mining sector. It cannot be business as usual without women involvement in mining. Women’s involvement should go beyond selling trinkets at mining spots,” he said.

Phiri added that there was need to solve all gender disparities in the mining sector, as well as to address mining conflicts that deter women from participating in mining activities.

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