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Celebrating ZELA’s Work with Communities

Compiled by Cosmas Sunguro-ZIDAWU

23 July 2021

Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU)’s existence and progress is hugely attributed to its relationship with Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA). Indeed, it has been a long-term relationship that has been growing from strength to strength. Our relationship dates to the early days of formal diamond mining in Chiadzwa. By then we were mere workers at Anjin diamond company. Anjin mine being a company jointly owned by Chinese and Zimbabwe Defense Forces had its labour challenges. It was their encouragement and guidance that the idea of forming ZIDAWU was mooted in 2013 and later got registered in January 2015 with ZELA being our Strategic partner. Like a baby, they have witnessed us grow through their nurturing.

Participation in Alternative Mining Indabas.

As ZIDAWU, we have had an opportunity to be invited to Alternative Mining Indabas be it the Provincial or National. Our first invitation was on 13 September 2012 in Harare and since then we have been involved in these Alternative Mining Indabas. We have made several presentations in various forums. Through these Indabas and capacity building meetings we have been able to get exposure. On several occasions we were able to visit areas within Zimbabwe and outside Zimbabwe including the annual Alternative Mining Indaba in Capetown courtesy of ZELA. During the visits we were able to network including sharing our experiences as mining communities and substantiating our calls for socio-economic justice. In several engagements we have been clear in our messages that mining investors should ensure that they adhere to the principles of do no harm, the polluter pays and undertake these with the deepest transparency and accountability

Funding and Research.

As ZIDAWU, we have been one of the beneficiaries from ZELA subgranting. At one point in time, we received the EU grant. This granting coincided with our rebranding exercise, and it enabled us to execute our activities timeously. Part of the grant assisted in purchasing some of our assets. We were also involved in various research with ZELA including the famous one we co researched on Working Conditions at Anjin. This report is found as a hard copy as well and was published in 2015. This became a learning curve for us as we can now do the research on our own.

Trainings.

Being associated with ZELA has made us immediate beneficiaries of their training programs. These have been so empowering to us as Individuals and as an organization. Their trainings and workshops capacitated us to be able to withstand the pressure that comes with operating as an organization. We can safely point that the training on use of social media and Data advocacy came in handy in outmaneuvering the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Whereby, we adopted the use of social media and digital platforms in community monitoring, dissemination of information, advocating for change and ensuring corporate accountability.  ZIDAWU Monitors Forum is a whatsapp platform that has become a medium of information hosting more than 240 participants encompassing all stakeholders. This also became more popular as we partner with ZELA as presenters on the forum and also in programmes and activities hosted. Thus, our working relationship with ZELA has matured well.

Moreover, through trainings with ZELA we managed to identify gaps and needs that come as an organisation grows. For example, the Labour rights training of 2020 helped us realise the gap we had in safeguarding principles that can be invoked to protect members of ZIDAWU and communities it works with to risks that may arise by the existence of ZIDAWU in these communities or by abuse of power of authority.  Thus, we drafted a Safeguarding policy that will be unveiled this year after review by ZELA’s Lawyers. Therefore, administratively, we are content with the mentorship given by ZELA and we believe there is still room for learning and improvement as we go forward.

In Conclusion.

As ZELA celebrates its 20 years in existence, we acknowledge its support and the future look brighter as we have seen some prominent Community based organisations that the organisation gas empowered and registered. We have had exchange visits with other communities across Zimbabwe. Thus, learning from others experience. On another note we have had a couple of collaboration in hosting our annual events like Manicaland women Symposium on Extractives, International Rural Women’s Day, 16 days against Gender based violence and Summer school on Labour training.  As they celebrate their 20 years in existence ZIDAWU is glad to be one of their partners.

Compiled on behalf of ZIDAWU by Cosmas Sunguro

ZIDAWU Chairperson

Email zzidawu@gmail.com            

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