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The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
21 March 2008
Posted to the web 21 March 2008
PARLIAMENT on Wednesday heard that the proposed new Mines and Minerals Development Act will promote transparency in the management of mining rights in the country.
Mines and Minerals Development Minister Kalombo Mwansa told the House that the Bill had also provided for the establishment of the mining rights registry which would contain third party interests to facilitate obtaining consent for an investor to enter such areas for mineral exploration.
Dr Mwansa said when the Bill came up for second reading that the proposed law had several provisions to benefit Zambian citizens and citizen owned companies in line with the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act 2006.
He said Zambians would remain free to enter into mine development partnerships with foreign investors but said only up to 49 per cent equity participation by non-Zambians would be allowed and that it would also reserve the mining rights for industrial minerals for Zambians.
He said Zambian citizens seeking consent to undertake prospecting and mining activities within an area already under a large scale mining right would now have the opportunity to seek intervention of the minister.
He said the provisions were designed to increase Zambian participation in the ownership of mines in the country and increase benefits to the Zambian society generally.
He said once the Bill was enacted, it would provide the legal basis for the statutory instrument and also development of a mineral royalty sharing mechanism.
He said the provision was designed to meet the expectation of local communities to benefit from the mineral royalty accruing to Government from their areas.
Other new elements in the Bill include the removal of provision for the minister to enter into development agreements and other elements included the requirement for a mine developer to come up with programmes for local business development, employment and training of Zambians.
The Bill also stated that the existing development agreements would cease to be binding on the republic upon coming into effect of the new Mines and Minerals Development Act.
Dr Mwansa further disclosed that the relinquishment, the renewal of a prospecting licence would now not be negotiable, as this would encourage prospecting companies to speed up identification of a highly promising area, which could be retained for mine development.
And chairperson of the committee on economic Affairs and Labour Mines Given Lubinda said the submission by the mining companies against the tax regime were invalid as they did not take into account the legitimate demand for the citizens to benefit from the resources that God endowed upon them.
Mr Lubinda who is Kabwata PF Member of Parliament (MP) said to avoid the country being brought under similar circumstances in the future, the committee implored the House to fully support the withdrawal of the discretionary power of any minister to enter into such development agreements.
The committee further supported the proposal to reserve certain mining activities for Zambians and also empowering the local companies.
Contributing to the debate Namwala MP, Robbie Chizyuka (UPND) said Zambia was a rich country with minerals given by God but called for fair share of the resources for the benefit of the people.
Luena MP Charles Milupi (independent) said that 750,000 tonnes of copper representing 99.9 per cent go out of the country as raw materials thereby creating jobs for other countries at the expense of the Zambian people.
Newly elected Kanyama MP Jerry Chanda (PF) said he had been tasked with responsibility of contributing to the welfare of the community who were currently facing various challenges such as floods, road infrastructure and several other pressing matters.
Colonel Chanda told the House that the planned increment of user fees by the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RSTA) should not be accepted because of the failure to manage the funds.
And Speaker of National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa advised Colonel Chanda to avoid debating controversial matters and the use of un-parliamentary language to avoid being interrupted.
This was after Col Chanda said that for too long the people of Kanyama and the nation as a whole had tightened their belts but had not been assisted.
He had wondered what wrong the people had done not to be assisted by what he termed “uncaring New deal Government” which received interjections especially from the Government side.