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A Note on the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association , Parliament of Zimbabwe and Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Meeting held in Kariba

Introduction

On the 7th of May 2019, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe and specifically the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development on the need for Responsible Investments in the Mining sector. ZELA petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe in terms of section 149 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It provides that :

Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation”.

In this petition , ZELA highlighted that currently, Zimbabwe’s mining sector is one of the major sectors of the economy that still has the ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). However, while commonly presented as a sector providing development opportunities for the national government and local communities, mining activities in Zimbabwe have repeatedly triggered a myriad of problems such as livelihood shifts, displacements from ancestral land and insidious social, cultural, environmental, and economic changes.

As Zimbabwe continues to push for FDI under the dictum of Zimbabwe is “ Open for Business,” policies must be suitably tailored to promote intra and inter-generational equity in the mining sector. Without the necessary legal basis, local communities in Zimbabwe will continue to suffer at the hands of mining corporations despite the fact that the Constitution makes provisions for communities to benefit from resources found in their locality in terms of section 13(4) which includes mineral resources. A mutually beneficial partnership between the state, the private sector, civil society, local communities and other stakeholders must be developed. Harnessing mineral resources for economic development and community empowerment is critical in addressing the poverty scourge and improving the quality of life for all Zimbabweans as envisioned by section 13 of the Constitution on National development.

The Petitioner’s Concerns .

The petition raised a number of concerns which included the following

  • Concerned by the rate of irresponsible investment within the mining sector;
  • Shortcomings in the Mines and Minerals Act and its misalignment with the Constitution of Zimbabwe;
  • Limited consultative processes on investments that affect communities through prior informed consent or failure to carry out due diligence on impacts of mining;
  • Failure by some mining companies to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), displacements, pollution of rivers and lack of rehabilitation.

The Petitioner’s Desire

The petitioner’s desire with regards to FDI was as follows  :

  • The Zimbabwe is Open for Business should be about rebranding the country, nature of investments and triggering investments that change the fortunes of the country;
  • Responsible investments should conform to Zimbabwean mining laws, uphold the principles of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which has provisions that in order to promote responsible investments, States have the duty to protect everyone within their territory from human rights abuses committed by business enterprises;
  • Desire that Zimbabwean Mining Laws conform to international and regional standards’ norms and principles;
  • Mining laws aligned with Constitutional provisions e.g transparency and accountability, financial probity, respect of human rights, passage of mining concession laws;
  • Upholding and respecting Environmental Rights  (Section 73 of the Constitution) to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures;
  • Encourage the recognition and respect of the principles of good governance like transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness as provided for in terms of section 3(2)(g) of the Constitution.
  • Encourage mining corporations to set up effective complaints handling mechanisms;
  • Promote research and development on responsible investments;
  • Ensure substantial and inclusive participatory EIA process conducted transparently in a manner free of mining company influence.

Petitioners’ Plea and Prayer:

  1. The Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development must push for the speedy review of the Mining Laws of Zimbabwe in order to promote responsible investments within the mining sector.
  1. The Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development must insist on the alignment of the Mining Laws of Zimbabwe to the Constitution to ensure that communities’ environmental, economic, social and cultural rights are respected.

Its is against this background  of the Petition that ZELA was then invited by the Parliament of Zimbabwe to organise , participate and unpack the petition at a meeting held in Kariba from the 11th-13th of July 2019. Alongside unpacking the petition , it was also an opportunity to discuss and build the capacity of members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Commiteee on Mines and Energy on issues affecting the mining sector primarily the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill https://www.parlzim.gov.zw/component/k2/mines-and-minerals-amendment-bill-final-h-b-19-2015 . In January 2018 during the life of the Eighth Parliament, the Amendment Bill went through all the procedural stages of Parliament prior to transmission to His Excellency, the President for assent and signature in terms of Section 131(5) of the Constitution. However, just before the 2018 harmonized elections, His Excellency, President Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, returned the Bill to Parliament with reservations in line with section 131 (6)(b) of the Constitution which states that:

When a Bill is presented to the President for assent and signature, he or she must, within twenty-one days, either –

            If he or she considers it to be unconstitutional or has any other reservations about it, refer the Bill back to Parliament through the Clerk of Parliament, together with detailed written reasons for those reservations and a request that the Bill be reconsidered”.

The Kariba meeting besides discussing the ZELA Petition in depth was also an opportune time for Members of the Committee to have an in-depth appreciation of the proposed amendments and their justification, inclusive of the reservations raised by His Excellency. ZELA also took the opportunity to present its reservations on the Bill based on the a research it commissioned in 2016.  The presentations made during the meeting focussed on the following :

The presentations and discussions during the Kariba meeting included the following :

  1. Key Note Address by the Speaker of Parlaiment , Advocate Jacob F. Mudenda
  2. Overview of the Mining Secreaty by the Permanent Sectetary in the Minsitry of Mines and Mining Development , Onesimo Mazai Moyo
  3. Understanding the local and international laws affecting the mining sector in Zimbabwe by Professor Tumai Murombo , Professor of Law at Wits University and ZELA Chairman of the Board of Trustees
  4. Preliminaray Rsearch Findings on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill , Mutuso Dhliwayo, ZELA Director
  5. Unpacking the ZELA Petition – Shamiso Mtisi , ZELA Deputy Director
  6. Gender and Mining – Nyaradzo Mutonhori , ZELA Senior Programme Officer
  7. Reservation on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill – N.Dias , Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Justice , Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
  8. Analysis of the laws regulating the gold mining sector in Zimbabwe – Mukasiri Sibanda , ZELA Economic and Governance Officer

This is how the meeting became a training and capacity building for the Committee on Mines and Mining Development .

Conclusion

The Kariba meeting was not a stakeholder’s meeting on the Mines and Minerlas Amendment Bill. It was a meeting that was convened by the Parliament of Zimbabwe , the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association  to disccuss the Petition submitted by ZELA to Parliament and discuss developments in the mining sector with specific focus on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill. Any citizen , organization or Association can petition the Parliament of Zimbabwe in terms of the Constitution.

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