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Zimbabwe is considering legislation to force miners to fund development in local communities, the state-owned Herald newspaper said on Tuesday, citing Ministry of Mines and Mining Development officials.

Mining companies would be compelled to pay for development in communities in the mineral-rich nation where they are based under proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act.

They would also need permission from local community leaders before starting operations.

“We know that we need the amended Act but it had to go through processes which could not be avoided,” Thankful Musukutwa, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines, was quoted as saying.

The Mines and Minerals Act Amendment Bill which has been on the cards for the past seven years comes in the wake of a government drive to force foreign owned mining firms to sell controlling stake to black Zimbabweans as a part of a controversial scheme to indigenise the economy.

Secretary for mines Thankful Musukutwa also said the government was looking to submit the Bill “soon” to all stakeholders for further consultation.

“The Attorney General’s office has completed drafting the Bill, we should have the Bill so that we submit it to mining stakeholders for corrections and consultations,” he said, adding that delays in finalising the bill had been because of bureaucratic red tape.

Foreign mining companies are already facing a May 9 deadline to submit plans on how they will transfer 51 percent of their local equity to blacks in the southern African country.

Foreign players in Zimbabwe include Rio Tinto and Impala Platinum.

President Robert Mugabe is looking to raise funds as he pushes for elections this year aimed at defeating his unity government partner and rival, the Movement for Democratic Change.