Zvishavane-Ngezi Member of Parliament John Holder has asked legislators to look at the proposed Gold Trade Act and Precious Stones Act because it does not make much sense for someone caught with 3 grammes of gold to be sentenced to five years in jail while people that got away with diamonds worth $15 billion are scot-free.
“Mr. Speaker, on the Gold Trade Act and the Precious Stones Act, that is one of the very sore and sad stories where you find a person is caught with 3 grams and is sentenced to five years in prison or caught with emeralds that have no value and is sentenced to three years mandatory yet a lot of people got away with diamonds worth $15 billion and no one was ever sent to jail for that $15 billion,’ he told Parliament on Thursday.
“Therefore, on this Gold Trade Act and Precious Stones Act, Mr. Speaker we need to look at the way we are going to deal with this because some of the sentences are far too harsh, especially for the artisanal miners.
“Artisanal miners are people who are basically trying to make a living. The President spoke about decriminalising them but here we are playing cat and mouse chasing them, catching them and putting them in for five years at the taxpayers’ money. It becomes a sad story. So we need to look at that in a robust way.”
He also urged legislators, especially government ministers to be honest and disciplined.
“His Excellency spoke to us as Parliamentarians and he said that we need to be well informed in order for us to give robust debates. The problem with us here in Parliament is we are not punctual, disciplined and there is a problem especially from Ministers that were appointed.
“Some do not even come here and we do not even know what they look like. We see them in the newspapers only. We need to see them here in order for us to talk to them.
“The reason why we can talk to these Ministers is so that when they talk to us, they lead by example that they have come here, we get understanding. If there is something we do not understand, we find a way of finding each other so that we can go out there and give the right message, but the problem is we play cat and mouse. There is always an excuse.
“Some Members of Parliament just come here to mark the register and walk out, which is short changing the general people out there who actually elected us to come here.”
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