Making A Case for Computerised Cadastre System and Registration in Zimbabwe: Here is what participants had to say.


Webinar: Friday 27 August 2021

  1. Overview

Zimbabwe is currently using a manual system of registering mining claims which has caused serious problems such as double allocation of claims resulting in disputes. Such problems have affected mineral production and reduced effectiveness of other policies such as the use it or lose it policy[1] and the ease of doing business which is aimed at attracting investment into the country.

The efforts by government to computerise the mining cadastre system, a process of   awarding and administration of mining title system has not yet yielded any publicly noticeable results to date. The old system being used is prone to manipulation, corruption and takes long to complete owing to bureaucracy. With such a situation and delays in fully implementing the system, several allegations have been thrown around including fears that some Officials might be benefiting from the archaic system. .

One of the decisive factors for a thriving mining sector is the security of tenure which has been a challenge in Zimbabwe, considering problems associated with protection of property rights in the country. Ideally, mining legislation should protect and guarantee mining rights in accordance with international best practice and investment laws. Essentially, the administration of mining titles and the applicable laws should be fair, transparent, decisive and efficient. It is therefore critical to have an efficient mining cadastre system that enhances investor confidence in the sector and enables the public to access information on mining rights and licences as well as their coordinates. Such a system might also help in addressing problems associated with conflict over different land uses including addressing farmer-miner conflicts.

During an oral evidence session with the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development reported that the Ministry has purchased some of the material to modernise the mining cadastre system. The Ministry also reported that it is in the process of updating mining title information and registration per province. It is reported that a pilot project of the mining cadastre is currently being undertaken in the Province of Manicaland. However, the details about these developments are sketchy and not in the public domain as yet. As the country modernises the system it is important to recognise and address the needs and aspirations of the stakeholders. This can be made possible through adequate consultation. These stakeholders include mining companies, artisanal and small-scale miners, farmers, landowners, civil society, communities affected by mining, various Government departments and other key stakeholders with  interest or affected in any way by mining. Failure to manage expectations especially on access to mining title and dispute resolution has been the major cause of disorder, violence in Zimbabwe’s mining sector which hinders the government’s ability to translate mineral wealth to development.

 To that end, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) convened a webinar on, “Making A Case for Computerised Cadastre System and Registration in Zimbabwe.”  The policy dialogue was conducted on the 27th of August 2021 with the following objectives: 

  • To create a learning and sharing platform on the importance, implementation process and challenges associated with a Mining Cadastre system
  • To afford the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development an opportunity to provide a comprehensive update to the public on the status of development or implementation of the proposed mining cadastre system.
  • To get insights from other countries who have adopted the mining cadastre system.

The dialogue meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Mines, CSOs and members from the ASM sector. This report seeks to unpack the issues which were discussed including the proposed action points.  

  • Major Challenges Posed by lack of a Cadastre System are:

The webinar participants highlighted that, there is monopoly in the sector and heavy politicisation on allocation of mining claims. The lack of computerised cadastre mining has seen a proliferation of politically exposed persons controlling a large percentage of the mining areas in Zimbabwe. The culture of impunity in Zimbabwe has resulted in politically exposed persons influencing the whole mining processes and benefitting immensely from the criminality Most of artisanal miners are failing to acquire prospectors and mining licences due to massive corruption within the Ministry of Mines. The process of claim acquisition is bureaucratic which has in some instances created loopholes for corruption to thrive.

In addressing participants concern over lack of clarity in the implementation of the cadastre system, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, highlighted that a pilot survey is being implemented in Manicaland Province.

The representative also added that the Computerized Cadastre Information Management System (CCIMS) that the government is implementing will have several advantages which include, (i) Minimising conflicts and investment risk (ii) enhancing the spirit of transparency and accountability of the sector, (iii) improving government regulatory capacity and improving revenue collection (iv) curbing conflicts around overlapping boundaries, and (v) facilitating the ease of doing business.

Furthermore, concerns from Civil Society Organisations and the public are that while the government is using COVID-19 as an excuse for failing to finalise the pilot process, the reality is that there are vested interests in the sector with some stakeholders opposing modernisation of the mining registration system as they are benefitting from the old manual system. As such, having a cadastre system in place will unearth massive corruption including those who possess multiple mining claims in Zimbabwe.

“It is also worth noting that, having a cadastre system in place does not necessarily mean all problems being experienced will be dealt with immediately because the systems are controlled by people, hence the system can be prone to manipulation and abuse because a computerised system is a mirror of the manual system. Experience can be drawn from other African countries that have adopted and embraced the system like South Africa, Gambia and Kenya, which are currently experiencing challenges with such system as well. South Africa for example is trying to rework on their cadastre system.”   The Stop the Bleeding Coordinator, , Mukasiri Sibanda, stressed the importance of embracing the technology for better governance of the sector despite some limitations associated with it.

In addition, the participants raised the issue of double allocation of mining claims. In those cases, some government officials from the Ministry of Mines, peggers/surveyors connive with the politically exposed whenever they notice a fertile place to mine. As a result, artisanal miners are left vulnerable, including failure to realise maximum benefits from their operations. This is worsened by the fact that, most of the maps being used are old and tattered which makes them difficult to read or interpret. Another panelist chipped in saying, most of artisanal miners cannot interpret the maps and therefore do not even understand them and their relevance. This has resulted in continuous boundary conflicts (overlapping boundaries) and massive violence between small scall miners, mining companies and in some instance local farmers.

Information asymmetry is one of the problems associated with the mining registration system as most of artisanal miners do not have adequate information on the processes and procedures. Those who seek to acquire the mining licences have faced many challenges. It has been noted that rampant corruption throughout the process has been a major hindrance for most of artisanal miners to obtain licenses.  Such corrupt malpractices by officials has witnessed the majority of artisanal miners opting to operate without mining licences because the process is also cumbersome, time consuming and a lot of money is needed for one to bribe the officials and engage peggers.

The lack of transparency and accountability in the mining value chain and in particular the mining title system has led to leakages of resources, further undermining the potential of the sector to transform the Zimbabwean economy. The current legal frameworks governing mining contracts and licences does not have provisions for contract transparency. Whilst section 315 of the Constitution provides that An Act of Parliament must provide for the negotiation and performance of the concessions of mineral and other rights to ensure transparency, honesty, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness, the Mines and Minerals Act [1961] is silent on transparency and accountability. The mining contracts have secrecy clauses which prohibit either parties to the contract to disclose information which is contrary to section 62 of the Constitution which guarantees the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability.

The fact that Artisanal mining is criminalized in the country despite its capacity to create employment opportunities and contribute to the fiscus has led to the capture of the sector by criminals and opportunists. The ASMers continue to face several constraints and the major ones include absence of a policy recognizing their work, cumbersome process of acquiring permits and licenses to operate as a miner and other related permits, the unavailability of markets for selected minerals such as gemstones, poor mining methods leading to environmental degradation and inadequate capital to boost production.  Some of the factors that compel communities in mining to pay bribes including fear of going to court for non-compliance with licensing and environmental requirements. ASMers fail to acquire all the requisite documentation due to unavailability of resources owing to lack of collateral security to acquire loans. Resultantly, they operate without licenses and permits, they purchase and store explosives without licenses.

From the Webinar, it was noted that the Ministry of Mines is not fully capacitated or equipped to fully implement the cadastre system. This is because of insufficient budget allocation. Even though mining contributes immensely towards the national fiscus, little attention is given to the Ministry to ensure it effectively and efficiently accomplishes its objectives. It was also noted that lack of a cadastre system has been chasing away potential investors who would want to invest in the country.

Proposed Action Plan

Based on the issues raised during the engagement, ZELA came up with an action plan on key issues as follows;

  1. ZELA to follow up with Parliament (Portfolio Committee on Mines) and the Ministry of Mines to ensure that the Cadastre system is implemented expeditiously and transparently – this means ZELA needs to advocate for transparency and accountability of the process to avoid manipulation by powerful elites who are currently benefiting from the manual system.
  2. In their oversight role, CSOs need to collaborate, sensitise and raise awareness on the importance of the mining cadastre system and continue to call on Government to finalise the process. ZELA will coordinate the campaign between the CSOs and the government.
  3. Information dissemination to the ASM miners, farmers, and communities on the advantages of the mining cadastre system to ensure effective implementation will be critical.
  4. ZELA, Civil Society Organisations and the Ministry need to collaborate and convene high level dialogues and discussions on how the system should operate including monitoring and evaluating the system.
  1. As a complimentary to the Cadastre system, advocacy is needed to convince the government to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to increase transparency and accountability in the sector which can help with access to information and public disclosure.
  2. ZELA, CSOs and ASMers should continue advocating for the formalisation of the ASM sector so that the sector contributes to the country’s economy and minimise illicit mineral leakages and financial flows. By formalising the sector the government will document (through the computerised system) all miners, what they are mining, where and how. This information will help curb corruption and ensure transparency within the mining value chain.
  3. Advocating for full adoption of a functional cadastre system that provides online information regarding mineral claims in the country.


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