Generally, mining sector reforms have proved to be elusive in Zimbabwe. This has been the case despite the pivotal role of mining to the country’s socio-economic development outcomes. The archaic Mines and Minerals legislation and outdated mining title management system, for instance, point to a stagnant policy and practice reform process.
Under this context, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) welcomes the new initiative to bring about policy and practice reforms in the mining sector. Under the leadership of the Office of the President and Cabinet, on 26 July 2017, the inaugural mining sector Technical Working Group (TWG) on ease of doing business was convened at Crowne Plaza hotel.
Stakeholders to the TWG include relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Business, small scale miners associations and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). ZELA as the lead organisation on mineral resource governance in Zimbabwe is part of representatives from civil society including the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign.
Professor Ashok Chakravarti coaching the TWG on mining ease of doing business. There are two team leaders, Isaac Kwesu, Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe CEO and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe’ general Manager, Masimba Chandavengerwa.
The mandate of the TWG is to identify priority areas for policy and practice reforms that enables the business environment to enhance mining sector contribution to economic growth and sustainable development. This entails recommendations to remove impediments to production, export earnings, beneficiation and value addition.
Evidently, Zimbabwe performs poorly in terms of World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, ranking number 161 out of 190 countries in 2017. Government started the ease of doing business reforms 2 years ago, so far, several legal and practice reforms have been successfully implemented.
Realising that mining is pivotal to drive export earnings, infrastructure development, job creation and industrialisation through linkages, government intends to put in place measures to promote domestic and foreign investment into the sector.
Although World Bank has a hand in ease of doing business reforms, strong domestic ownership is quite important. A point that was stressed by Solomon Mhlanga, senior principal director for public sector modernisation and performance management from the Office of the President and Cabinet. That is the reason why all stakeholders must take advantage of the policy platform to turn around policy and practice changes with 100 days. Stakeholders will be meeting weekly, on Wednesdays at the Ministry of Mines boardroom.
World Bank’s Rapid Results Approach (RRA) that has successfully been used in other countries has been customised to guide the ease of doing business reforms in Zimbabwe. To hit the ground running, the TWG agreed to make recommendations on several policy and practice reforms such as the draft Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, Gold Trade Act, Precious Stones and Trade Act, mining title management system and royalties, levies and fees.
The involvement of CSOs in the TWG is certainly a game change and there is an opportunity to government and mining companies’ processes.