THE Mutoko Rural District Council (RDC)said it would soon review the unit tax being paid by black granite miners as the local authority seeks to increase its revenue base for development purposes.
Black granite miners have been extracting the resource for decades leaving gullies while the community has not benefitted much in terms of spin-offs from the resource.
Mutoko is currently among the poorest districts in the country despite being home to the money-spinning black granite mineral.
Mutoko RDC chief executive officer Peter Sigauke confirmed the development saying that they would increase the unit tax currently set at a dollar per tonne.
“Since 2015, council, in agreement with the granite miners, has put in place a system that allows the billing of the miners on a quarterly basis, hence we know at any particular moment who owes council what.
“The main issue now is the amount payable which council strongly feels should be raised from a dollar per tonne. We have to do it gradually in order not to cause alarm and despondency. Initially we need to raise the unit tax to $3 per tonne,” he said.
Granite mining has been taking place since 1972 with some mining companies failing to remit taxes to the local authority, which is now owed up to $10 million.
In 2015, government summoned five black granite mining companies operating in Mutoko and ordered them to comply with government’s laws through contributing to the Community Share Ownership Scheme or face closure.
This came after government had been facing massive resistance from the black granite miners refusing to honour their pledges towards the Community Share Ownership Trust launched some years back by former President Robert Mugabe under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers’ Association noted that in 2009 alone, 121 000 metric tonnes of black granite rocks worth $12,1 million were extracted from Mutoko District only.
At least 98% of black granite extracted from Mutoko is exported to European countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy.
According to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Mutoko district produces 75% of the country’s black granite.
Jairos Saunyama- Newsday Zimbabwe