Protecting the rights of communities and conserving the environment and natural resources

Blog: Gender

Women’s Voices: Gender Based Violence in ASM Sector

Edited by Nyaradzo Mutonhori and Mukasiri Sibanda

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56 women participating at the one week Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Academy for Women, have noted with deep concern that Gender Based Violence (GBV) linked with ASGM sector, is a major problem that must be addressed urgently. GBV in the ASM sector deserves special attention. This statement is a summary of profound and compelling cases of GBV linked with ASGM and a call to action to different stakeholders, relevant government institution, corporates, media, development agencies and male counterparts in the ASGM sector.

1.       Overlapping mining claims, double or multiple claim allocation increases women vulnerabilities to violence. The lack of a computerised mining title management system coupled with corrupt practices of Ministry of Mines and Mining Development officials and mainly male investors causes arbitrary displacement of women from gold claims. First In First Assessed principle not respected when it comes to women on claims with proven resources

2.       Corruption by the police officers creates conditions were interpersonal violence frequently occurs in the ASGM sector as the police receive bribes and openly harass rightful women claim owners and their workers to hound them off their operations. This wanton disregard of the right to property (mining claims), is a perverse form of human rights violation against women in this sector.

3.       The long delays in settling claim ownership disputes, which delays are often-times unnecessary, by the Ministry of Mines and the courts are a form of Gender Based Violence as they result in women suffering due to loss of livelihoods for them and their dependents mainly children who need school fees, food and clothing. These institutions of the state are equally actors in perpetrating structural gender based violence against women in the ASGM sector.

4.       Women miners frequently face sexual and physical harassment from the male dominated labour-force who threaten to gang-rape them if they are not paid their expected share of proceeds regardless of gold output and expenses.

5.       Illegal arrests and detention of women in ASGM by mostly male police officers on alleged crimes linked with ASGM make women vulnerable to sextortion. Men often possess financial muscle to bribe their way out of police custody but women in ASGM often do not have similar resources.   The police often charge the women with the crime of Illegal possession of gold and when the women produce their mining licences the police change the charge to failure to produce register yet they do not ask for the registers upon arrest. Unrealistic regulations such as the Gold Trade Act which criminalised gold possession creates an enabling environment for the police to seek bribes and forced sex from women artisanal and small-scale miners. Women hurt the most from compliance risks due to high levels of poverty impeding their ability to acquire costly mining claims.

6.       Violence caused by machete wielding gangs is making ASGM unsafe for women miners. Corrupt police officers are not arresting known gang leaders because of bribes.

7.       During administration of deceased estates, where the estate involves a rich gold claim and where the likely beneficiary is a woman, the probability of them being dispossessed of the claim is very high compared to when it is a male beneficiary. This dispossession is coupled with emotional and physical harassment. The impunity for such violence against women points to structural tolerance and causes aggravation of violence against women facing such situations in ASGM.

Mining is one of the key economic sectors of the country and will be one of the sectors to contribute to the economic recovery of our country. The Constitution and the Broad-Based Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework call for gender equality and equal participation of men and women in key economic sectors. Gender Based Violence in ASGM is a way of excluding women from participating in this key economic sector. The state must stop being an aggressor of violence against women in ASGM by putting in place computerized mining title management and purging the Ministry of Mines and ZRP of corrupt elements. The government must sanitize the operating context for artisanal miners, ridding ASGM of violent machete wielding gangs. WE demand a State that that promotes freedoms and rights for all, intervenes where these freedoms and rights are threatened in key economic sectors like mining, and is structured on diversified forms of participative democracy  by its citizens, men and women alike.

Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Women Academy Off The Blocks

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Participants at the ASGM Academy for Women

To help women to better tap opportunities presented by ever-growing artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in partnership with Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), Women in Mining Association-affiliated with Ministry of Women and Zimbabwe School of Mines are currently hosting a one week ASGM Academy for women. 55 women miners are receiving training in fundamentals of mining at Inyathi Training Centre, Bubi running from 02-08 December 2017.

Participants were pooled from major gold producing rural districts, mainly Bubi, Gwanda, Matopo, Mberengwa and Zvishavane. Preference was given to syndicates, widows and youths. Few sponsors were added to the mix to enable women financiers to understand better the technicalities in the mining sector to sure their investments and to attract more capital.

Themed “Yikho Phela We Invest in Women: The Future of Mining” the academy is jointly supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Christian Aid Zimbabwe. The Academy is part of the big programme to support formalisation of the ASGM sector through; (i) supporting ASGM association to organise and make their hundred thousand voices count for advocacy; (2) to facilitate multi-stakeholder policy dialogues to responsible, profitable and sustainable growth of ASGM that is an integral part of rural economies; and (3) to enhance linkages between large scale miners and the ASGM.

Prior to the commencement of the school of mining training programme, women met for the first two days to reflect and learn on their practice in the ASGM sector. Main challenges reflected upon include inheritance pitfalls for women miners, physical and sexual harassment by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), corruption in the award of mineral rights, limited ownership of mining titles, lack of collateral security to access various loans channelled towards the ASM sector, disruptive role of care giving and the dangers of lack of appropriate workers compensation insurance cover for ASGM sector.

The five-day School of Mines course on fundamental in mining for women covers fundamental of mining geology, introduction to mining law, introduction to mining and mineral processing, basic mine finance and planning, introduction to drilling methods, women in mining, basic safety, health and management, and lastly a practical and educational mine trip will be carried out.

According to Mr Gwaze, School of Mines’ training and operations manager, a tailored made training for women came after realising that women are unique clients. They participate freely and better if they not mixed with males. After the training, women should have gained confidence to successful venture into a male dominated ASGM sector. Further, by employing best practice in mining and mineral processing, women miners can boost their mineral yields.

Find below the women voices on the value proposition of the ASGM for Women;

“I have been mining gold since 2001, but I have never been trained on how I can do proper mining. This course will help me to better manage my gold mine. I look forward at last to enjoy rich picking from gold before I die” 62-year-old Maltilda Masia, a miner in Gwanda.

“we are running women empowerment fund and women development fund, yet our understanding of the ASGM processes was weak.  Now i have appreciation of multiple permits which are legal burden to women miners. Our monitoring and evaluation of ASGM projects we are funding is no longer going to be same, we now have a better understanding of some technical details critical for successful ASGM” Murungi with Ministry of Women Affairs

“As a sponsor, I feel embolden to start and operate my own mine. Further, I will be able to assist the people I am working with on best practice to improve mining and mineral processing methods” Mrs Ncube, a sponsor in Bubi district

“It has helped me in a big way, women have so many things to say and they are so emotional, but time is limited. There are so many issues that need to be addressed by various government institutions involved in ASGM. We are going to engage mainly the Ministry of Mines and the police on issues affecting women” Blessing Hungwe, chairperson of Women in Mining Association formed in partnership with Ministry of Women. She was commenting on the first two days of the Academy which allowed women to share and learn from their diverse experiences.

“This course means a lot to me especially on communication strategies. I now understand the purpose of communication, that is to come up with a message that is easy to understand, easy to remember and a message that steers action from primary targets.  It is also interesting to network with colleagues and to listen to different challenges and best practice among women” Shamiso Hozo, President Women in Rural Mining Zimbabwe.

Follow the twitter hashtag #WomenInASM for updates on the ASM Academy for Women, 02-08 December 2017. Let me conclude by sharing comments I received on twitter and on WhatsApp from colleagues.

Kady ASM

The policy briefs are available here at

“It would be interesting to learn how many women have come in via inheriting claims of their late husbands, and how many are full-on entrepreneurs who have come to small scale mining on their own accord and volition. And is there a difference in terms of their productivity, etc. They would seem to be quite different miners” Professor Richard Saunders

Tax Incentives Can Puncture Efforts to Revamp Public Service Delivery


Cholera, the scourge currently haunting Zimbabwe is indicative of the sorry state of public service delivery – health, water and sanitation and education. A clear violation of socio-economic rights  provided in the Constitution. It is pertinent, therefore to focus on how government can mobilise finance to revamp public service delivery. Amidst measured excitement over government’s quest to re-engage with the West and the luring of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), it should not be lost that tax is the most sustainable tool in government’s hands to finance development. Borrowing heavily from the debate that took place during a SADC regional workshop on Tax Justice in Mozambique from 10-13 September 2018, this article ventilates tax incentives – whether are detrimental or beneficial to development.

The Tax Justice workshop was organised by Action Aid (AA) Mozambique. It included other AA country organisations from Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) also took part as a lead partner on Tax Justice with AA Zimbabwe. Tax Justice ensures more tax is raised fairly, allocated and spent equitable to ensure provision of essential public services.

Understanding tax incentives

Before delving into the discussion of how harmful or helpful tax incentives are, it is necessary to gain an understanding of what tax incentives are and the types of tax incentives offered in Zimbabwe. According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) “tax incentives are generally defined as fiscal measures that are used to attract local or foreign investment capital to certain economic activities or particular areas in a country.”  One can look at ZIMRA’s website to have an appreciation of tax incentives offered in Zimbabwe or refer to the Finance Act, the Income Tax Act and Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs).

Among tax incentives offered in Zimbabwe are; tax holidays – waiver to pay tax for a certain period, for example 5 years for Built Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) infrastructure; 15% preferential corporate income tax for holders of special mining leases; all capital expenditure on exploration, development, operating incurred wholly and exclusively for mining operations is allowed in full; and perpetual carry over of mining losses. DTAs are tools used to avoid double taxing of the same income twice from the same entity or individual with investments in two countries concerned. DTAs can limit the capacity of our government to collect maximum taxes, for example, withholding tax on dividends.

Debate on Tax Incentives  

Proponents for tax incentives argues that, fiscal linkages although appear to be low hanging fruits from mining, they are not the only tool in the box for unlocking sustainable development. An effective mining tax regime must embrace desirable trade-offs between tax and other development drivers like transfer of technologies, skills development, enhanced supply chain capabilities, employment creation, export earnings and infrastructure development. Rightly so, ZIMRA acknowledges such attendant economic benefits accruable to a nation through using tax incentives.

Of course, ZIMRA is not blind to the fact that tax incentives are a cost to government in its interpretation. That is why a cost benefit analysis is critical always to ensure that government does not bear an unfair burden of tax discount in the bid to stimulate economic growth. Hence tax incentives must be publicly accounted for just like tax revenue. Unfortunately, ZIMRA does not publicly account for the costs incurred through tax incentives in its revenue performance reports, produced quarterly, semi-annually and annually.

Another shortfall is limited transparency of the amount of taxes received by government from mining operations. Apart from mining royalties, mining performance in other tax revenue heads like corporate income tax, custom duty, withholding taxes and Pay as You Earn (PAYE). A government eager to usher in a new dispensation must embrace international best practice like Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) to keep citizens in the loop on mineral tax revenue performance.

Currently, what is clear for all citizens to see is that the budget size is thin. There is very little left to fund service delivery as 90% of revenue generated is sunk into recurrent expenditure. Yet citizens are not sure if the thinning effect is caused by excessive tax incentives. Mozambique is losing $400 million annually through tax incentives and Tanzania lost around $790 million in 2014/2015. Overgenerous tax incentives erode government funding for better schools, clinics, water and roads. Thereby worsening inequality and allowing corporates to enjoy public services that they are not willing to fairly pay for through taxes. A point that was well argued by critics.

Tax incentives if they are not aligned with what regional counterparts offers, they can easily stimulate a race to the bottom. Some scenario where regional countries, SADC for instance, compete to on lowering tax rates to attract FDI. SADC, interestingly, is in the process of formulating the Regional Mining Vison (RMV). ZELA is honoured to have led the participation of civil society from the region in this important process. One of the issues discussed in the RMV is harmonisation of tax incentives to stifle the race to the bottom.

However, if used well, tax incentives can spur inclusive sustainable development hanged on mining.  Power, for instance, a critical enabler to mining development is in short supply in Zimbabwe. To cover for the deficit, power is imported from Mozambique and South Africa. Therefore, if mining companies are given tax incentives to set up their own power stations, which will then feed excess electricity to the national grid. Ultimately, this promotes growth of other industries like agriculture and manufacturing – economic diversification.  The nation can stop importing electricity and ease the foreign currency crisis.

Critiques argued that in the mining sector, tax incentives rank list in influencing investment decision according to World bank report. Investors consider geological potential, ability to repatriate profits, political stability, policy consistency, infrastructure and labour among other factors. Fitly, in zones where the mineral wealth potential is very high, incentivising investors may not be ideal. Rather fiscal linkages, more tax revenue can be raised progressively by taking the competitive bidding route in the disposal of minerals.

Sadly, the Mines and Mineral Act is not aligned with AMV on harnessing competitive bidding to strengthen fiscal linkages. The Act relies on first in first assessed principle, even in zones where mineral wealth potential is high, the Great Dyke for example. Mineral rich countries must therefore invest in geological information to guarantee economic rationale in the disposal of mineral rights.

Further, critiques accused mining companies of cheating, using aggressive tax planning methods to avoid payment of taxes in jurisdictions where they are mining. A process known and Base Erosion and Profiting Shifting (BEPS) which weakens domestic capabilities to mobilise finance for development. Income is unfairly shifted to lower or free tax jurisdictions – Tax Havens. Government, therefore, must not give away freely its taxing rights to mitigate development revenue losses from illicit financial flows.

Wooing FDI is important but the nature of investment is critical to decipher whether it is in form of equity or loans.  FDI which comes inform of equity investment is preferable in that only dividend need to be repatriated. Whereas debt finance requires is costly in terms of repayment of loan interest in addition to dividends. When giving incentives, equity investment must have preference against investment financed by debt.

In Zimbabwe, the challenge is that mining deals are secretly negotiated even though the Constitution, Section 315 (2) (c) requires Parliament oversight in the negotiation and performance monitoring of mining agreements. Although the previous Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy (PPME) did a sterling job to try to hold government accountable on management of Marange diamonds, Parliamentary scrutiny on several mega mining deals announced in the first half of 2018 was lacking.

Without Parliamentary scrutiny, there is a risk that bad deals with toxic incentives which can short change public service delivery. To illustrate, the ZIMRA refunded around $100 million in 2015 after losing a tax dispute on legality of stabilisation clause that pegged royalty rates at 2.5% for 25 years whilst ZIMRA argued for a rate of 10% prescribed by the tax code. Bad agreements are a result of either lack of poor technical skills to negotiate with corporates who can afford highly skilled technical persons.  or through corruption.  Mining benefits are skewed in favour of few well political well-connected persons and corporates.

Arguments against tax incentives in the mining sector were that, mining companies are chief culprits when it comes to eroding the tax base of resource rich countries by shifting profits mostly to secretive and tax free or lower tax jurisdiction – Tax havens. Therefore, government to give away freely their taxing rights to corporates that a bleeding resource rich Africa of its ability to use domestic resources to finance development.


To wind up, Zimbabwe’s desire attracts FDI to grow the mining sector as a leverage to achieve middle income status by 2030 need to be complemented by transparency and accountability of tax incentives. In its revenue performance report, ZIMRA must publicly disclose tax incentives, tax discount given to investors by government. This will enable citizens to assess the impact of tax incentives on funding service delivery programmes which reduce inequality – schools, hospitals, water and roads.

No room should be left for discretionary negotiation of tax incentives which undermine the country’s tax laws. As required by Section 315 (2) (c) of the Constitution, oversight in negotiation and performance monitoring of mining agreements must be a key priority for the 9th session.  Instead of allowing full recoupment of capital expenditure costs in the first year, government should spread capital recoupment over 4 years. Perpetual carry over of mining losses should be abolished. A period of 6 to 10 years can be ideal to allow carry over of mining losses. DTAs should be reviewed urgently to weed out clauses which weakens government’s fiscal capabilities.  Already, government softened indigenisation requirements in the mining sector, only platinum and diamond sectors are required to cede 51% equity to indigenous partners. Pressure, therefore should be less to unnecessarily give away the taxing rights through tax incentives.

ZAMI’s ASM National Action Plan

During the 7th of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), Pact and the Zimbabwe Environment Law Association (ZELA) organised a breakaway session on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining on 11 October 2018, at Holiday Inn, Bulawayo. The ZAMI was held under the theme “Accountable and Transparent Governance of Mineral Resources: Safeguarding Development Interest of Local Communities in Mining Sector Reforms.” Participants comprised of artisanal and small-scale miners (ASMers) from key gold producing districts in Zimbabwe, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Women Empowerment Bank and Zimbabwe School of Mines, the Zimbabwe Mining Federation (ZMF) executive and a group of researchers on resource nationalism from Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Canada under York University, Canada. Below is an action plan that emanated from the ASM dialogue;

  • To promote grassroots participation in mineral resource governance reforms, the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, The Gold Trade Act and Precious Stones Act, as highlighted by the State of the Nation Address (SONA)’s legislative agenda for the 9th Parliament. Key asks of AMSers and communities must be documented for each mining district and consolidated at national level for presentation to Parliament. The laws should decriminalise artisanal mining.


  • To ensure that ASM because the centrepiece of government agenda on resource nationalism to ensure the communities are not dislocated from carrying out mining activities. This is in line with Section 13 (4) of national development which compels the State to put in place mechanism to ensure communities benefit from resources in their localities.


  • The Finance Act of 2018 which reserved artisanal mining for indigenous players must have a definition on what constitute artisanal mining. The reform of the principal legislation governing the mining sector, the Mines and Minerals Act must embrace artisanal mining to support the Finance Act’s position.


  • ASM should be opened in all mineral sectors. Government must open space for ASM in Marange diamond fields to ensure equitable exploitation of the diamonds.


  • The gold development loan facility should include empowerment objectives to enable financial support to poor and marginalised ASMers. It is commendable that RBZ has set aside $20 million for women and the relaxation of collateral requires. However, it is disturbing to note that only 255 entities or individuals benefited from $74 million disbursed in 2017 according to the 2018 Monetary Policy Statement (MPS). This translate to an average loan size of $290,000 per individual. An amount which is 10 times more than the average loan size require for basic mechanisation and input support of many ASMers. Therefore, RBZ must allocate a significant portion of the gold development facility to boost productivity of poor ASMers.


  • Fiscal support on exploration should be given to ASMers to ensure that their mining business activities are weaned from gambling. Also, this augurs well for the country’s quest to earn more foreign currency from ASM sector. With exploration, the geological risks associated with ASM will be lowered to unleash opportunities for increased investment into the sector.


  • There is need to unpack what the 100 tonnes of annual gold production by 2023 mean in terms of sustainable and integrated rural economic development as envisioned by Africa Mining Vision. Currently, there seems to be a huge disconnect between buoyant gold production in the ASM sector well-being of key gold producing communities.


  • RBZ fund should be used to maximise backward linkages in the ASM sector, local production of machinery, goods and services to improve the development dividend from the sector.


  • The Zimbabwe Miners Federation should be made a statutory body and get fiscal support to facilitate mobilisation and organisation of ASMers to engage better with policy makers and other key stakeholders for responsible and profitable growth of the ASM sector.


  • ASMers should document and tell their own stories to counter negative publicity fuelling public perception the sector should be outlawed.


  • A case study is needed to understand how big the threat is posed by Chinese investors in the ASM sector.


  • Legal aid should be offered in the ASM sector to bring civil suits to perpetrators of violence – machete wielding gangs. Suing them for medical bills, loss of income and pain will help to curb the violence which has gotten out of hand.

SONA: Do I Smell A Breath of Fresh Air on Mineral Resource Governance Reforms?


A country that is endowed with diverse and significant mineral wealth is crippled socio-economically. Cholera outbreak – a mediaeval disease, severe foreign currency shortages, inferior tax revenue inflows and high levels of corruption are all signs that mineral benefits are not shared with citizens. Several mining mega deals were sealed this year, yet the public is not aware whether the deals are good or bad for sustainable development. Hence the deep urge to scan the State of the Nation Address (SONA), for nuggets, if any, on mineral resource governance reforms which are critical to the reversal this curse. The SONA was delivered by the President on Tuesday, 18 September 2018, during the first session of the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe.

Re-tabling of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill

For every long time, much needed reforms to the Mines and Mineral Act have proved to be elusive, even though the country’s socio-economic prospects are hinged on mining. This time around, the President signature was the missing link to give life to the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill passed towards the end of the 8th Parliament. Seeing the inadequacy of the Mines and Mineral Amendment Bill, among other gaps, online registration of mining rights and titles, the Bill was referred to Parliament by the President. A massive opportunity for Government to comprehensively align the bill with Africa Mining Vision (AMV) and the Constitution, to harness mining for broad based socio-economic development.

One major issue which requires priority is the alignment of the Bill with Section 315 (2) (c) of the Constitution which requires Parliament oversight during negotiation and performance monitoring of mining contracts. Such a development will mitigate the risk of signing bad deals which do not yield a greater development dividend from mining – schools, hospitals, roads and industries. If government is serious about fighting corruption and to mobilise resources to deliver quality health and education services, a strong dosage of contract transparency is a necessity. All mega deals that were signed this year should be made public and Parliament oversight role should not be undermined.

Focus on small scale mining

It is noteworthy that the President highlighted that government will continue to support mechanisation of the small-scale mining sector to improve productivity. Government must go beyond mechanisation to support exploration which is the life blood of any mining activity. Ease of doing business reforms are necessary to ensure that small scale mining is not criminalised through huge compliance costs. For instance, $1,000 is required to get permits to purchase and store explosives. Attention should also be paid to artisanal miners to ensure a conducive policy and legal environment that recognise this important source of livelihood for many Zimbabweans. Over 500,000 are directly involved in artisanal mining. There is urgent need to curb wanton violence that seems to be the order of the day in artisanal and small scale gold mining.

Artisanal and small-scale miners are indispensable players in that they exploit resources that are not economically viable for large scale mining. Further, small scale mining offers opportunities for job creation, income generation and community enterprise development.

Curbing leakages of precious minerals

To curb the leakage of precious minerals, the Gold Trade Bill and the Precious Stones Trade Bill will be tabled before Parliament. Currently, the Minerals and Border Control Unit (MBCU) laments the fact that most smugglers of precious minerals are acquitted by the courts. This anomaly must be addressed by making the laws water tight. It is also crucial to align the Gold Trade Act with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s policy on buying gold on no questioned asked basis. Government, therefore, must work on a special permit for artisanal mining to ensure that artisanal mining is not criminalised. Another issue which deserves attention is the provision of incentives to whistle-blowers who provides credible information critical to stop the smuggling of precious minerals.

Broadening the range of minerals exploited

Boasting of over 40 known minerals that can be exploited economically, the drawback is that the country’s mineral performance is concentrated in a few minerals. Gold, platinum, chrome, diamonds and nickel account for 90% of the country’s export earnings. It is remarkable to note that the President acknowledged the importance of broadening the basket of minerals being exploited. A move fundamental to unleash mining potential to propel broad based socio-economic development. Naturally, high valued mineral easily grab the attention of policy makers because they rake in more export earnings and tax revenue. Yet, the so-called development minerals, which are low valued but with greater economic linkages are easily neglected. Development minerals are used in agriculture and construction sectors, phosphorous, limestone and iron among others.

Institute for Research, Innovation and Development

The Africa Mining Vision prioritises research, innovation and development to spur mining sector development. One of the main areas for research and innovation which deserves priority is clean technologies that efficiently substitute the use of mercury to recover gold. Ministry of Mines has projected that 100 tonnes of gold will be produced annually by 2023. This points to an impending disaster if government does not drive development of gold recovery solutions which eliminates mercury use. Mercury is dangerous to health and environment.


It is certainly encouraging that the President promised several reforms which have strong implications on mineral resource governance, a sweet smell. Hopefully, Parliament will move with speed, consult publicly with stakeholders and come up with resource governance laws that domesticate the aspirations of the Africa Mining Vision. Parliament oversight on negotiation of mining contracts as well as performance monitoring of mining contracts is a deal breaker. If this is not urgently done, fragile public trust in the new government will shatter.

Hope for Justice: African perspectives on the negotiations for a binding instrument on business and human rights

Myness, 38, is one of the Chiadzwa residents who were forced off their land

when diamonds were discovered in her area.

By: Nyaradzo Mutonhori

This article originally featured on ACTIONAID Website

In every corner of Africa, the stories are similar. Death, hunger and rising poverty levels are the devastating outcomes induced by corporations in host communities. Contrary to the healthy, prosperous and wealthy society narratives often promised these communities by corporations, exposure to toxic wastes, loss of livelihoods, restrictions on mobility and massive environmental degradation become their actual lived realities. Active non-compliance and violation of environmental regulations by corporations on the one hand, coupled with wilful denial of the existence of these human rights violations by states on the other, ensure poor communities and especially women continue to bear the burden of the environmental cost of business over long time periods.

One of the communities that I work with is the relocated community of Arda Transau in Zimbabwe. Between 2009 and 2011, diamond miners in Zimbabwe relocated more than 700 families from Marange to Arda Transau, 40km north of the diamond fields. Since then, the community has been ravaged by death due to water-borne diseases caused by a lack of access to clean water and poor health services; food insecurity due to pollution and siltation of rivers by diamond miners; deteriorating education standards due to rising population and overcrowding. 

Women have been the worst affected. They now travel longer distances to fetch clean water and spend more time caregiving for those who fall ill with typhoid and cholera. Other social impacts include increase in sextortion, sometimes referred to as ‘transactional sex’, as women negotiate with the military and private security agents to enter Marange diamond concession in search of wild fruits and firewood to sell. Less than a decade later, their houses have started cracking and are literally falling apart. Before being relocated, the diamond miners and government promised the families adequate housing, jobs, tap water, clinics, schools, electricity and irrigated fields. 

Across Africa, when affected communities speak up and fight for their rights through filing administrative and judicial complaints, their quests for justice becomes an injustice in itself because of long delays in this process. When they organise and build movements in the communities resisting mining, they are arrested and criminalised and labeled economic saboteurs. When they build campaigns on the media and try to get a voice, governments close the space by deploying state security agents to quash community movements. 

Women Human Rights Defenders face malignant sexual harassment and intimidation for seeking justice for violations caused by the activities of corporations. When women from the Arda Transau community staged demonstrations demanding clean water, they were threatened with arrests and labeled ‘prostitutes’. When Arda Transau community organised into a community based group mobilising for members and the women organised women’s forum movements, the government accused the community of joining political opposition movement and closed all doors of engagement with the community group.

When the Arda Transau community initially resisted relocation in 2009, the police descended upon the community and warned them not to stand in the way of development. Despite this indirect threat, the Arda Transau community filed a High Court application seeking enforcement of Constitutional provisions on fair and adequate compensation and the right to title for the houses they were relocated to. It has been two years now and it is still unclear when the matter will be heard and judgment passed.

This week I joined more than 200 other civil society representatives from around the world at the UN in Geneva, where I represented ActionAid’s Africa Extractives Working Group. We have spent the week listening and intervening as our state representatives carried a round of negotiations on how to regulate the human rights impacts of business activities in international lawAn international instrument on business and human rights could give the Arda Transau community the chance to access justice outside of Zimbabwe, in the ‘home’ country of the mining corporation.

The binding instrument negotiations provide hope for justice for many of us in Africa. We have hope that if such an instrument comes into force, we – us and future generations – will have a good chance at justice for rights violations by corporations

We have seen those who oppose the binding instrument say the current draft is ambitious and imprecise. We know that the binding instrument will not be the silver bullet to solve all problems and rights violations by corporations in Africa, but we believe this binding instrument will give women human rights defenders power to continue seeking justice against violations. We believe the binding instrument will introduce preventive measures to help shield women from devastating impacts of the business of corporations on their bodies. The binding instrument will place measures to enable women’s voices to be heard by governments and corporations.

The reading of the zero-draft of the binding instrument on business and human rights is among the first historic steps taken towards a treaty. As I go back to Zimbabwe, I am reenergised to keep fighting alongside mining affected communities, and I call on all women’s rights activists to stand with women affected by corporate abuse to keep pressure upon their states and ensure the process doesn’t stop here.

Amplifying voices of women artisanal and small-scale miners.

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) organized a workshop with the Women in Mining (WIM), from the 2nd to the 4th of October 2018, at Inyathi Vocational Training Center in Bubi. The workshop sought to introduce the project to the women in mining from Bubi, train and capacitate the women in mining on documentation and storytelling through use of social media platforms e.g. Twitter, Blogs. The training resonated well with the goal of empowering the women in mining and have their voice(s) be heard by collecting and amplifying voices of women artisanal and small-scale miners to send simple and clear messages which compels government and business to address specific challenges faced by women miners.

This was at the backdrop of a YouTube clip, taken 2 years ago during the Great Dyke Alternative Mining Indaba that shared the plight of women artisanal and small-scale miners in Guruve. Because of the clip, United Nations Democratic Programme (UNDP) is now building a gold mill for women miners in Guruve. Women participation in the democratic governance spaces of natural resources have increased as evidenced by the selection of Hungwe who appeared on the You Tube as the National Chairperson of Women Miner’s Association sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Gender Affairs.

The women were trained on how to communicate and document stories. Several ways of communication were discussed among them pictures, WhatsApp, twitter, blogging. Considering that ZELA has established WhatsApp groups in Manicaland, Midlands (Great Dyke including Gwanda) and Mutoko, the training aimed at amplifying voices of women artisanal small scale miners in Bubi. WhatsApp group of the women artisanal miners in Bubi will be used in disseminating issues as is cheap and readily available. One of the ways that they expressed interest in was the use of pictures. Pictures are the best way of communicating situations and are efficient as they best describe situations through visuals. However, pictures in as much they are easy to use, a consent form should be used in situations where the pictures that are to be used are of other parties. This ensures that no harm is done when communicating unfolding situations.

Regardless of the demanding nature of the mining operations both resources and time wise, and the several impediments women face to successfully operate, among them lack of mining equipment, limited direct ownership of mining titles, inheritance of mining assets, limited access to capital because of collateral insecurities, lack of adequate technical knowledge to successfully run mining activities, the women in mining from Bubi welcomed the support and efforts by ZELA to see to it that the voices of women are heard. This is echoed by one of the women who were in attendance;

“….. and the training was very timeous as it came at a time when, as women in mining in Bubi are working towards empowering each other and have our voices count. For that, we are very appreciative of the efforts that are made by stakeholders like ZELA to make the initiative a reality….”

This sentiment was shared by most of the women who were in attendance, and some even showed how eager they are for this to be sustainable than just a flight by night process. Sustainability of any intervention under whatsoever circumstance largely depends on the

“There is need for some constant refresher trainings on such issues so that they are not forgotten and lost….”

Below are the women stories excerpts that they compiled after the training;


CHILDREN born in the compounds they end up into early marriages and being exposed to drug abuse and family abuse. Girls they end up having children at a young age because the makorokoza will use money to lure them to engage in such acts. Children will also be sharing one room with their parents and this affects them psychologically. Because they are lured into engaging in sexual activities at an early age, they are then exposed to HIV AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), TB and prostitution. Boys are also exposed to drugs and alcohol. Because of poverty, communities, especially the vulnerable groups including girls and boys are exposed to effects from mining, for example, child-headed families, poor sanitation. This puts their lives on danger. Makorokoza to be recognized because they contribute largely to mining. The WIM from Bubi need claims, which they will service including erecting proper infrastructural facilities, among them ablutions, accommodation facilities.


Greetings to you all. My name is Susan (not real name), a widow who is surviving on mining. I live at Bubi District. I am having challenges at my mine and looking forward to being helped in solving it. I have owned this mine from for almost three (3) years, only to discover two (2) settlers who have already build their homesteads. I tried to talk to them, but they said, they were allocated the stands by the Agritex Officer. I consulted the councilor, Lands office, Bubi RDC and traditional leaders. It is almost three (3) years now without any solutions. As a widow, I feel I am taken advantage for. I am looking forward to getting help as this issue is affecting my well-being and surviving means. I think this issue is affecting a lot of women, hence promising to keep on sharing such stories to help women out there survive.


We are twenty-five (25) Wonders Women Miners. We are writing this letter requesting for working equipment like compressors, water pumps, explosives etc. to increase our outputs. We applied in several investors with no response. Now, the claims are taken by the state if you don’t produce. Again, we use wooden windryiers to enter the shafts. There is a risk of health hazards because we do not have toilets, no safety for explosives and mercury.

From the whole process of amplifying voices of women artisanal small scale miners capacitation training, it was encouraging and assuring the eagerness and commitment shown by the women miners. They want this be a process and not an event.

Champions needed to jumpstart mineral revenue transparency reforms

By Mukasiri Sibanda

Many times, it has been stated, Zimbabwe is open for business. But, can Zimbabwe be open about business, especially mining deals. Limited transparency in the mining sector disempowers citizens on holding government and corporates accountable. It is impossible for citizens to scrutinise decisions and to ask questions on how mineral wealth is managed to uplift their living standards, better schools, modern hospitals and access to clean and safe water.

Possibly, a glimmer of hope comes from the 2019 National Budget Statement which made a firm commitment to implement the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global best practice. This is not a new development, however. In 2011, the Zimbabwe Mining Revenue Transparency Initiative (ZMRTI), an adapted version of EITI was fruitless.

Thereafter, respective National Budget Statements from 2012 to 2015 included commitment to either resuscitate ZMRTI or implement EITI, which also proved to be fruitless. Whilst the 2019 National Budget Statement managed to relight policy conversation on EITI, past lessons are telling. Unless something different is done, mining sector transparency reforms will remain elusive.

Given Zimbabwe’s struggles to open the mining sector for public scrutiny, perhaps, champions in government and business are critical to enable openness about mining business, particularly its linkages to sustainable development. The role of champions gains elevation considering key developments around devolution. Local government and mining companies have an opportunity to take leadership role on promoting transparency, citizen participation and accountability in the management of mineral resources.

With this objective in mind, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), facilitated a one and half day workshop on strengthening mining local fiscal linkages for Mutoko rural district. A district that is well known for producing high quality black granite, mainly, for the international market.

The workshop was held at Mazowe hotel, running from 29 to 30 March 2019. Participants included council committee on finance, community-based organisations (CBOs), Faith Based Organisations (FBOs), school development committees (SDCs), Health Centre Committees (HCC), Ministry of Local Government, and a mining company.

During a discussion on strengthening transparency, participation of residents in generation, allocation and utilisation of mineral revenue, a significant milestone was achieved. Mutoko RDC and Natural Stone, a black granite mining company agreed to public disclosure of mineral revenue. Natural Stone was represented by Dr Muvhuro, the human resource manager who have many hats as the spokesperson of Dimensional Stones Producers Association (DSPA) and the current Vice President of the Chamber of Mines.

“As Natural Stone, we have no problem with Mutoko RDC publicly disclosing our tax payments. Intsead, we fear that Mutoko RDC will be in trouble as communities are eager to follow the money and see how it is being utilised. As far as we are concerned, we are up to date in terms of our tax payments” said Dr Muvhuro. Peter Sigauke, Mutoko RDC’s CEO responded that “through our full council meetings which are held quarterly, information on payments made by mining companies is publicly accessible as the minutes are public records. Therefore, we are happy to go a step further to make mineral revenue more accessible to the public”.

Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coordinator, Joyce Nyamukunda remarked that transparency commitments made by Mutoko RDC and Natural Stone were quite significant. This should inspire other resource rich local governments and mining companies in those jurisdictions to publicly disclose taxes paid and received from mining activities.

In conclusion, civil society organisations, government and mining companies must make sure that EITI implementation should not fail. In this process, it is important to mobilise a pool of champions to eliminate any fears that Zimbabwe is open about business in the mining sector. As such, the steps taken by Mutoko RDC and Natural Stone are quite encouraging. “In fact, the disclosure should include environment management information, mining agreements and all payments made to all government institutions” said Joyce Nyamukunda