Small scale miners call for gemstone trade liberalisation

THE Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) has urged the government to libelarise the gemstone trade by repealing laws that stifle growth in the sector.

According to the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) latest newsletter, ZMF secretary Privilage Moyo said the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Act (MMCZ Act) was choking the gemstone trade.

“Government needs to loosen the noose around the neck of the gemstone sector.

“Currently, the law criminalises any person that sells minerals,” Moyo said.

“It would be prudent if government could allow internal sale of gems through establishment of trading centres.”

In the same vein, Moyo called on government to decriminalise ownership of gems as some of them will be held for value addition.

“The local cops are arresting gem polishers, however the law is not too clear on the ownership of the gems, in the end, MMCZ urges the police to fine the arrested polishers and let them go,” Moyo said.

“However, that inconvenience is not necessary and is bad for business.”

Moyo also decried how selling of gems requires the involvement of all state departments and authorities.

He said the MMCZ should use its discretion in approving a sale.

“There is need for standard operating procedures in approving sales of gemstones rather than using the authority’s discretion,” Moyo added.

“This leaves miners and traders at the mercy of the authority which at the end of the day has no liability to losses as noted at law.”

He said gemstone miners were being ripped off by Chinese buyers as they do not have knowledge on the value of the gems.

“MMCZ is not currently marketing gemstones, as a result, the buyers are few,” he said.

“One is then forced to sell the gems to the Chinese as there might be no other takers.”

Meanwhile, artisanal and small- scale miners revealed during the ZAMI conference held in Bulawayo recently that exploitation was extremely high in the mining sector as there was little to no protection from the law.

Various players from different sub-sectors said they were constantly being exploited owing to their artisanal and sometimes illegal status.

Sophia Takava, a chrome miner from Zvishavane said Chinese buyers were refusing to engage in price discussions with miners, leaving the task to exploitative agents.

A Bubi gold miner said women were being sexually abused by artisanal miners when they attempt to mine. 

She called on the law enforcement agents to be more serious in eradicating machete gangs that rob women of their gold.

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