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What I would do if I were Mines Minister Winston Chitando

Winston Chitando has made the great leap, from running Mimosa Platinum Mine to superintending over the Zimbabwe government’s ministry of mines.

Chitando has been running Mimosa since 2007, first as managing director and from 2013 as executive chairman.

His business acumen is sorely needed now that he is responsible for a critical section of the economy, and one that has been dogged by controversies and allegations of corruption.

There are a lot of things that the new minister could do but he does not have much of a runway to do everything that needs to be done before elections later in 2018.

There is investors interest, geo-surveys, production capacity, skills, energy, taxation regime, property rights, transparency and accountability issues he has to deal with as a matter of urgency. He will have to prioritise and focus more on addressing the regulatory and legacy issues while capturing as much resource rent from operating mines as possible.

If I were Chitando, this is what I would do in the next 100 days;

  1. Put a moratorium on new mining deals or investments until after there is clarity on the mining legal and policy framework. With the time-frame in the run up to the new elections there is inexorable pressure to demonstrate results. The country is unlikely to make good deals negotiating from such a position. In any case, no new investment will have any meaningful effect on the economy before the 2018 elections.
  2. Finalise the much talked of new ‘fiscal regime’ for the sector. Talk of this new fiscal regime has been ongoing for the last 2 years if not more. He must bring closure to the issue.
  3. Provide more clarity on the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act amendments. Chitando is an industry man, he needs to reach out to that constituency and communicate the reforms around the Act. The chaotic implementation of the Act and the policy flip-flopping have dented the industry’s trust in the State. It cannot be undone by one statement by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in a Budget Speech. There should also be efforts to clarify what now happens to established Community Share Ownership Trust Schemes.
  4. Provide clarity on the platinum export tax and beneficiation initiatives. The tax has been ominously hanging like a hangman’s noose over the platinum sector.
  5. Provide direction on the principal mining legislation and policy framework. Reform of the Mines and Minerals Act has suffered a lot of false starts. There was a 2007 draft and there is currently a different 2016/2017 draft. Any reforms to the principal mining legislation needs to be communicated properly and allow the industry and the community to be part of a transparent process. There is no such clarity at the moment.

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