Adopt cadastre system to eliminate conflicts, ZELA urges mines ministry

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has blamed the continued use of manual claim allocation system as one of the major sources of conflicts in the mining industry.

The organisation noted that the old system being used is prone to manipulation and mistakes leading to double allocation of mining claims.

In a situational report released Wednesday, ZELA said the Minister of Mines and Mining Development has for a long time been reporting to Parliament that the Ministry is taking steps to modernise the mining cadastre system and has already acquired some materials although details about the development are still sketchy and not readily available for public scrutiny.

“Efforts by government to modernize the mining cadastre system – the award and administration of mining rights and title is moving in a very slow pace. Consequently, disputes are a common feature especially when gold rushes occur with two or more people claiming ownership over gold mining claims,” the statement read.

“The disputes can easily spill into violence as people fight to secure access of prolific gold areas. The other problem is on registration of the mines. The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is currently lagging behind, there is generally slow processing of mining titles.”

A cadastre is normally a computer-based and up-to-date land information system containing a record of interests in land such as owners’ rights, restrictions and responsibilities.

ZELA stated that the maps currently being used to allocate claims are old and tattered, in some cases, officials are forced to estimate boundaries resulting in double pegging or boundary disputes.

“During the data collection period, some maps shown to members of the ZELA team were torn, while some have faded such that boundaries are redrawn by a pencil. This results in shifting of blocks on paper/ map but not on the ground. Under such circumstances, one’s block might encroach into another one on paper, hence causing conflicts,” read the statement.

“This can only be rectified by Ministry Officials when they go on the ground to check coordinates. Such is the case in Chinhoyi and Midlands Province (Gweru office) among others. Double pegging of claims driven by corruption also fuels the violence as one can lose a claim they had for years because one was able to “bribe and have a claim allocated to them, a challenge which ASM have failed to address despite speaking against it.”

In the National Development Strategy-1 (NDS-1) economic blueprint, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube underscored the fact that the mining cadastre will be the anchor in unlocking the potential of the country’s mineral resources and beneficiation.

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