Ministers Winston Chitando & Mthuli Ncube sued
MINES minister Winston Chitando and his Finance counterpart Mthuli Ncube have been taken to the High Court for failing to implement laws that guarantee transparency on how the country’s mineral resources are exploited.
Save Odzi Community Network Trust (Socnet) cited Chitando, Ncube and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents in the matter.
They want the government, acting through Chitando and Ncube, to gazette a Bill in line with Section 315 (2) of the Constitution which deals with the country’s minerals within 90 days.
That section of the Constitution provides that “an Act of Parliament must provide for the negotiation and performance of … joint venture contracts, contracts for the construction and operation of infrastructure and facilities and concessions of mineral and other rights”.
In an affidavit deposed by Socnet chairperson Zakeu Nhachi, the Trust said they had been unlawfully deprived of transparency, honesty, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness in joint venture contracts and concessions of mineral rights and other rights in the mining sector.
“Zimbabwe is endowed with vast mineral resources yet regrettably, over the years; the resources have not resulted in any substantial benefit to the host mining communities. Rather the exploitation of mineral resources has left a trail of environmental, social and economic ills,” Nhachi said.
Socnet made reference to the Auditor-General’s report of December 2018 which pointed out how the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) had acted inappropriately in relation to its joint venture arrangements.
The court further heard that in the same report, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) could not avail geological maps of areas covering its mining claims.
“Given these circumstances, it is difficult to achieve the transparency, honesty and cost effectiveness envisioned in section 315 (2) of the Constitution,” added Nhachi.
“It is my belief that by including section 315 (2) of the Constitution, the aim was to ensure full realisation of Zimbabwe’s minerals by the public through a transparent mechanism and culture.”
Socnet argued that the Mines and Minerals Act did not have a specific provision relating to transparency and made reference to a joint venture between a multinational company, Alrosa, and ZMDC.
“The only information in the public domain is that Alrosa gets 70 percent of the proceeds for their development of the intended project, while ZMDC gets 30 percent. In fact, the deal in its entirety is shrouded in mystery as though the mineral to be exploited were not a matter of public importance.”