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Biti blasts govt over mining concessions

Harare East legislator, Tendai Biti, has accused the government of overriding the interests of the community in the issuance of concessions to mining companies across the country.

The former Finance Minister was speaking during a question and answer session in the National Assembly Wednesday.

“My question is directed to the esteemed Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable Winston Chitando,” said Biti.

“Since when it is government policy that mining concessions are now being given in communal lands, irrespective of the rights of traditional and community leaders and some of the concessions and mining rights are actually being given over graveyards, cemeteries and people’s fields in communal lands? When did it become government policy that the Mines and Minerals Acts will override the Communal Lands Act and the power of traditional chiefs and communities in rural areas?”

In his response, Chitando denied the irregularities in the awarding of mining licences.

“I would like to assure the Honourable Member that all mining titles are issued in accordance with the provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act and if there are any particular cases which the Hon Member is aware of where title has been issued in contravention of the Mines and Minerals Act, I urge him to approach my office and the cases will be reviewed accordingly.”

But Biti was not convinced with his response.

“There are cases that are common cause and I give him the examples of mining concessions for black granite that have been given to Chinese companies in the Mutoko area,” said Biti.

“I give examples of mining concessions that have been given to Chinese companies in the Hwange National Park, Dinde area over cemeteries. I give examples again of the Hlengwe-Hlangani land in Chiredzi where again mining concessions have been given to some white interests. There are many examples. My question has not been answered – why is he allowing the Mines and Minerals Act to override the Communal Lands Act?”

Still Chitando maintained that he was not aware of what Biti was talking about.

“Firstly, starting with Chiredzi, I am not aware of any cases in Chiredzi where mining titles have been issued not following the procedures of the Mines and Minerals Act,” said Chitando.

“The other cases in the Hwange area, definitely being cases of mining title issued not in accordance with the Mines and Minerals Act, there are no cases which I am aware of. We have one or two cases in Mutoko which are being reviewed by the Ministry which pertains to some issuance of mining titles closer to schools and that is being reviewed. Certainly, I am not aware of any other cases in Hwange and Chiredzi. If there are any other specific cases, he is free to bring the cases to the office and that will be reviewed accordingly.”

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