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Mines Minister Chitando under-fire for irregular granting of platinum licenses

Controversial Mines Minister Winston Chitando is under-fire over allegations he is irregularly granting platinum licenses breaching the Mines and Minerals Act, Chapter 21:03.

The issue was raised by opposition legislator Tendai Biti in Parliament last week. He said special mining leases which are provided for under the Mines and Minerals Act, Chapter 21:03 were being abused by the Minister giving certificates to individuals with little or no capacity to mine platinum.

Biti, a top lawyer and a former Finance Minister further stated that special mining leases in terms of Section 139 are huge investments that require a lot of money, a minimum of US$100 million. But, he said, the Minister was giving them to dubious people.

Chitando is always in and out of the courts over mining disputes.

In February this year, Chitando was dragged to court over allegations that he grabbed eight gold mining claims belonging to businessman Yakub Ibrahim Mahomed and re-issuing them under a special grant to Golden Reef Mining (Pvt) Ltd, where he is a director.

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Former Finance minister Tendai Biti
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti

Biti said the platinum leases in question included but not limited to one given to the Russian company, DGI which has stopped operating at the moment.

“I rise on a point of national interest which pertains to the issue of special mining leases which are provided for under the Mines and Minerals Act, Chapter 21:03. These special mining leases in terms of Section 139 say these are huge investments that require a lot of money, say a minimum of US$100 million but you find that these special mining leases are now being granted to people that do not have money.

“They are now being distributed like cakes at a wedding. I am talking of the platinum leases like the one given to the Russian company, DGI, which has stopped operating at the moment,” Biti said.

Biti also mentioned the Manhize iron and steel project by Chinese owned Tsingshan Holding Group as one that is not benefiting the local Chivi people, breaching the principle of corporate social responsibility.

The Harare East MP demanded that the Minister be called to the National Assembly to explain how he was issuing out the special mining certificates.

“These special mining leases are now too numerous. Another example is that of Manhize in Chivi where there is mining of iron ore. Manhize was giving iron ore resources of 43 billion metric tonnes but no money has come to Zimbabwe.

“It hurts because we are mortgaging our country with these special leases and at the end of the day, Zimbabwe receives nothing.

“I request the Minister of Mines to come and give a statement on special mining leases that he has given from 2018 to date; how much money he has raised from them; what was the criteria used in awarding licences; what investments have been done by such mines and why he did not come before Parliament for us to be in a position to grant those mining leases because Zimbabwe is now being impoverished.

“I want Hon. Chitando to come and give us a report. Zimbabwe belongs to its own people and we should not sell it,” Biti said.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament promised to call Chitando to bring a Ministerial Statement in response to the issues Biti raised.

Chitando did not respond to calls and messages when Nehanda Radio contacted him for a comment.

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