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Call for CSOT’s renaissance gains momentum

The Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in the Natural Resource Governance (STA-NRG) Consortium which comprises of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Silveira House, Habakkuk, Pact and International Senior Lawyers Partnership is convening a three-day policy dialogue with the Parliament Portfolio Committees on Investments and Commerce, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Mines and Mining Development.

Following the amendment of the 2018 Finance Act which repealed sections of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, the STA-NRG consortium has been advocating for a sustainable new economic empowerment bill. This is the core objective of the meeting which runs from the 26th -28th of March 2021 in Kariba.

After the amendment of the indigenisation and economic empowerment act, a proposal was made during the 2019 mid-term budget review to formulate a new empowerment framework. Several communities consulted by ZELA’s hope lies in revamping Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) arguing that these will ensure mining sector investment benefits them. This will also compel mining companies to comply and support the CSOT initiative.  The STA-NRG Consortium and like-minded Civil society organisations have been advocating for the enactment of laws that promote development among locals creating a regulatory environment that facilitates mining corporations to comply and uphold section 13(4) of the Constitution to ensure that communities benefit from resources within their localities.  

Though poorly implemented, in some communities such as Blanket Mine, the CSOTs concept has managed to address community’s development trajectory funded by revenue from mineral resources. Therefore, the meeting being convened in Kariba will see stakeholders discussing pertinent issues such as the collaborations between different arms of government such as relevant Parliament Portfolio Committees and Ministries in the formulation, alignment and harmonisation of laws and policies.

Now that the CSOT has no legal backing, it is important for the consortium and civil society organisations such as Publish What you Pay to advocate for a new economic empowerment framework that is sustainable and benefits the locals. In 2020 the PWYP Zimbabwe Chapter commissioned a research on benefit sharing arrangements in the mining sector. Besides calling for transparency within the mining sector, the research focused on CSOTs, the need to tighten regulations to make the schemes mandatory, including promotion of transparency and accountability in CSOT management.

Speaking at the opening of the policy dialogue, Chairperson of the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce, Honourable Joshua K. Sacco indicated that the economic empowerment bill will drive the benefits enshrined in the constitution despite the repeal of the Indigenisation and Economic empowerment Act which created a vacuum and left the CSOTs in limbo.

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