‘Bittersweet’, Group describes recall of Mineral Authority Bill by Hichilema as opportunity for fresh insights


Publish What You Pay (PWYP) national chairperson, Joseph Chewe, has expressed the civil society consortium’s desire for further debate on the recalled Mineral Authority Bill by President Hakainde Hichilema.

President Hichilema had reportedly sent the Mineral Regulations Commission Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration, refusing to assent to it.

“We received with keen interest the news of the decision by the Head of State to refuse to assent to the Mineral Resources Regulations Commission Bill, which by implication means sending it back to the committee stage in the National Assembly of Zambia,” Chewe said.

In a statement on Thursday, Chewe observed that while this development is provided for in the legal review processes, it presented a bittersweet situation for PWYP.

“It is sweet because the fact that there are a lot of submissions that key stakeholders such as civil society organizations made that were not considered in the final bill is testament to the unsatisfactory nature of consultations that were made,” Chewe noted.

He further pointed out that even where such consultations were made, many submissions were not taken on board without any communication explaining why.

Chewe said the decision presented an opportunity to re-engage and agree on provisions that would truly benefit the Zambian people, such as the role of traditional leaders in mining licensing and the composition of the commission.

Other provisions included the disclosure of beneficial ownership and strengthening measures to ensure there was free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) with the communities.

Read more:illegal-mining-revenue-leakages-to-come-under-check-as-minerals-commission-reaches-implementation-stage

However, he highlighted areas of concern regarding the development.

“The process protects content. For us to get different results, we need to do something different. We therefore call upon the National Assembly, the Ministries of Justice and Mines and Minerals Development to consult on the best way to get stakeholder submissions,” Chewe said.

He regretted that a total of K25 million was allocated to the establishment of the commission in the 2024 national budget.

With this development, Chewe said it was unlikely that this process would be completed before October 2024, as the National Assembly would shift its focus to debating the budget for 2025 by then.

“On opportunity costs, the mining sector is in intensive care, and the commission once established would have helped to bring it to life again. This development means that the challenges the sector has been grappling with have been extended,” he said.

Chewe lamented that this delay meant Zambians will have to wait even longer before they can experience real benefits from mining.

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