CONTRACTS allegedly awarded for the establishment of a mining cadastre at a cost of about US$2 million by previous mining ministers were nothing but a hoax with the computerised mineral-records system only expected to be operational by 2021, Mines minister Winston Chitando has said.
This comes after the ministry announced three years ago that it had a team in place and had raised US$2 million for the project.
The system is supposed to unlock value, avoid double allocation of title and enhance security of tenure. Chitando was speaking at the State of Mining Industry event hosted by the Chamber of Mines in the capital last week.
"Government has done a number of interventions to ensure that the US$12 billion industry is achieved these include, but not limited the cadastre system. It is a fact that the mining administration by the very nature that it's manual it's not efficient and is also giving demise to a number of issues. A team is being put up to establish the system with a commitment that by 2021 the system will be up and running," he said.
In 2016, the then deputy minister in the ministry, Fred Moyo, announced that consultations with the consultant hired for the initial job of developing the system had been concluded and had engaged and signed an agreement with an unnamed contractor to operationalise the Cadastre Mining Management System.
"The contract has already been signed with a contractor for the project operations. The project is still in its early days, but funding constraints are a challenge as you know it's funded by government and there is no money. It simply implies that we might not be able to complete by the time we were supposed to," he said. He later told this newspaper in 2017 that government had begun the process of inputting data onto the mining cadastre, but said it would take longer than necessary due to funding and foreign currency constraints, among other issues.
"I can't really say how long it is going to take, but I am sure it's going to take longer, considering we are self-funding the project. So far, we have managed to raise approximately US$2 million and we still have a long way to go. The issue of self-funding is also coupled with the issue of forex," he said
The minister's remarks raise questions as to what happened to the previously assembled team and the US$2 million that was raised then. Could it be a shift in thrust by the authorities? If so, what will happen to the money raised for the project?
Chamber of Mines president Elizabeth Nerwande at the same event also raised concern on the cadestre issue.
"We have been lobbying for that for a while, it's now an issue with the government. We have submitted all that we want, including our commissions and benchmarks. Like you rightly heard, the minister said by 2021 it will be up and running. As chamber we would like to urge government if it could come earlier if the industry is really to grow. "We have been affected especially on geological aspects. We really do not know what our maps are like and for those that ware already working it might be better but its major shortfalls for an investor who wants to come in Zimbabwe."
Earlier indications are the systems require in US$7 million to set up.