By TOBIAS CHANJI
Kwale, Kenya: Kwale County women’s representative Zainab Chidzuga wants the Mining Bill reviewed, saying it confers excessive powers on the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the docket.
Chidzuga said the bill vests powers on the CS “as though mining were his private property”. She said if left unchanged, the provisions could lead to abuse of office by future office occupants.
She singled out the provision in the Bill that gives the CS powers to, singlehandedly, issue and revoke permits of mining firms saying it goes against the policy of public participation, consultation and transparency of government activities.
“We have to trim these powers. Most of us (legislators) are not comfortable with the powers vested upon the Cabinet Secretary because such powers can corrupt anyone,” she said.
Chidzuga said Coast legislators will push for public participation and involvement of county governments.
“We want counties to be involved in mining and all small miners should be left to the counties. We are also looking to review the Base Titanium agreement that was made some years back because it does not outline how residents will benefit,” she said.
Chidzuga made the remarks on Tuesday at Hill Park Hotel in Tiwi, Kwale during a two days’ forum organised by civil society groups to discuss the Mining Bill.
Coast leaders, including Kwale governor Salim Mvurya, have in the past criticised the national government for failing to consult them over the issue of loyalties.
They accuse the national government of failing to consult the county government before the export begun of Titanium began.
“The royalty being paid is very low. The county government and residents who live where the mineral is being extracted ought to be paid the same royalty as the national government,” said Mvurya in an earlier interview.
Chidzuga said the government’s initial agreement with Tiomin Kenya (which later sold to Base Titanium) was that there would be a renegotiation of royalties after five years.
She said this is yet to happen despite the fact that Base Titanium has also started excavation.
She said the county proposed that residents should receive a royalty of 10 per cent, counties 35 per cent and national government 55 per cent.