TENDAI BHEBE IN BULAWAYO
The new digital database of mining claims and other information will be a game changer as it will plug leakages and mining disputes that have been witnessed in the mining industry over the years, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Pfungwa Kunaka (pictured) has said.
The digital database, mining cadastre, will replace the current manual filing system.
Government rolled out a pilot project in Manicaland Province. Kunaka said the government will roll out the system to other provinces as soon as the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is passed into law.
“In our new bill the new law is dealing with what we call mining cadastre. The mining cadastre is a programme where the government will use computers to get information about a certain mining company at a given time. This will help in the registration process and application for licenses to avoid any problems.
“It will let us know what the place is like. We already have the system in place. What’s left is to launch it .This will help us decrease the disputes in the country in regards to mining activities, “he said.
A cadastre system refers to a computer-based and up-to-date land information system containing a record of interests in land such as owners’ rights, restrictions and responsibilities.
Earlier this month, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Mining Development conducted public hearings on the Mines and Mining Amendment Bill.
The Bill, which was gazetted in February this year seeks to reconstitute the composition of the Mining Affairs Board and clarify its functions, establish the mining cadastre register and registry, and reduce the classes of mining titles to three only as well as regulate the activities of prospectors, among other issues.
Meanwhile, miners and farmers in the Matabeleland region say the Bill being reviewed should resolve conflicts between the two parties and address issues of land inheritance which are prevalent in communities.
Jane Lusinga, a small-scale miner, said the farmer-miner conflicts were increasing as they both were fighting for land.
“May the government not allocate resettled people places to stay on mining land. There have been a lot of disputes in this regard. When we engage them explaining that they have settled on mining land they say that is where they were allocated, yet they are the same people who will wake up mining again in the same area tomorrow, “she said.
A farmer, Liberty Mlambo, said mining activities were causing land degradation in different areas.
“If farmers are allowed to mine minerals found in their farming spaces, they would implement processes that will cater for both mining and farming. But, when a miner, who has no appreciation for farming comes through, they will only do what benefits them.”
According to Zimbabwe’s Mines and Minerals Act, miners are supposed to cover any pits they dig .If they do not, they could face a fine and up to a year in prison.
The miners further proposed that the ministry must allocate mining fees according to mine sizes instead of having blanket fees that are beyond the reach of many.