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Monday, 3 May 2010

Sharing the Proceeds of Mining, 3rd Edition

“The MMD is stealing these funds meant for the councils and President Banda will be answerable and personally I did not support the removal of windfall taxes and I am not part of that collective responsibility because as MPs we should be making laws that suit the wishes of the people and not what is happening”
The "funds" Hon Mwenya Musenge MP (Nkana) is referring to are the royalties which are supposed to accrue to local authorities under Section 136 of the Mines and Mineral Development Act 2008. The para states "The Minister responsible for Finance shall, in consultation with the Minister [responsible for Mines], a mineral royalty sharing scheme for distributing royalty revenues".  As we have previously noted the Government has failed to act on its legislation.  In a recent Parliamentary exchange, Hon Musenge raised the same concerns with no meaningful response from the other side. Hon Joseph Katema MP previously threatened to take government to Court, but that was hollow because Government cannot be forced to implement legislation by the Courts! It was a colossal failure by Parliamentarians to leave such an important clause for government to act when it feels like.

Incidentally, there's a long list of unimplemented ideas by government. Who remembers the Mining Community Trust Funds? What about the Environmental Protection Fund? All have never seen the light of day.  The problem in Zambia is not that we have no ideas, but that people do not hold government to account for the "formulated ideas".  But even when we have good ideas that are put into legislation, these are often taken forward in an incomplete fashion. The above is a prime example, but recently we had the same problems with the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill, 2010. A perfectly sensible legislation but one which is inadequate because of its failure to recognise the need for financial incentives. The quality of legislation that comes out of the House is really poor, as we are finding out in our on-going A Million Words Project.

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