By Sophia Takuva
The colonial era has marginalised the indigenous people in African from the riches of their land. The echoes of exploitation reverberate within our current democratic dispensation, ratcheting up tensions around land and resources. Although our mineral wealth is now theoretically shared by all, the realities of exclusion remain unchanged.
Artisanal and small scale miners and a number of mine-affected communities over the past years have shared stories of their lived realities, ASMiners detailing the mining challenges, criminalisation of livelihoods in artisanal mining,and communities sharing the impacts of mining by mining companies on their livelihoods. ASMiners continue to feel sidelined in decision -making related to mining laws and policies and mineral markets and pricing reforms that continue to hinder their development in the sector as small players. Communities feel unrecognised as interested and affected parties that must be consulted in the formulation process and when mining companies come to mine in their areas. The democratic principles of fairness, equality, dignity and justice continue to be elusive for those whose livelihoods are directly linked with mining. This has contributed to greater and more effective mobilisation on extractives issues across the country with the help of concerned civil society organisations. There have been spaces where these issues have been tackled but the Mining Indaba has remained a pivotal advocacy space that caters for all.
Over the years, the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) has remained an advocacy space to reflect on key developments on extractives issues, energy and climate change. It is a space that provides an opportunity for citizens to interact with policy makers and duty bearers for change. This year’s edition of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) came at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is experiencing numerous challenges and slim hopes of economic transformation. People from mining communities, non-governmental organisations, research institutions, members of parliament, Artisanal and small-scale miners, representatives from government departments, community based organisations, cultural and religious leaders among others gathered at the 8th edition of the ZAMI to evaluate opportunities for effective advocacy to ensure mineral wealth deliver socio-economic justice and better development outcomes for all Zimbabweans. It was conducted under the theme: “Sustainable for all: Building a legacy of citizens action for equitable and just natural resource governance in Zimbabwe”. This story will highlight some of the issues that were discussed.
Leave No One Behind
As Zimbabwe is working towards becoming a middle income country with per capita income of $3500 by 2030 using the transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP). According to the TSP Zimbabwe hinges a great portion of the success of the vision 2030 on harnessing natural resource revenue to spur economic recovery and transformation for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. This year in line with Leave No One Behind principle stated in the Sustainable Development Goals, and also enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution there is need to ensure that Vision 2030 leaves no one behind. Profound challenges ranging from corruption,inadequate policies ,lack of transparency and accountability in relation to investment deals and lack of stewardship still hamper the ability of the mining sector to meaningfully contribute to development in Zimbabwe. Clearly for vision 2030 to be a success, there is need for massive policy and legal reforms braced with strengthening the capacity of accountability institutions to effectively play oversight role. Also, inclusion of citizens on policy formulation and decision making and giving them space to actively make their demands known, and to participate in development issues and follow through on overseeing policy reforms and hold institutions accountable.
Community voices in the benefit sharing system.
Section 13 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe on national development states that local communities must benefit from the resources in their localities. Questionably the states, institutions and agencies of government are not endeavouring to facilitate rapid and equitable development and also they are not taking measures to involve the people in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes that affect the people. Poverty is increasing rapidly with more than 70% of Zimbabweans including those in mining communities still living below the poverty datum line with women being the most affected. As a result of relocations due to mining women and girls travel miles to fetch water and firewood, cultivate on infertile land and produce little or no harvest. Some also travel miles to head cattle and do all social work.With the economic hardships girls are skipping school days when menstruating due to lack of sanitary wear.
The most painful part is the structural dependency on export of primary commodities and external control of the mineral resources by Multi-National Corporations which continue to diminish benefits to mining communities. In the mineral rich communities’ youths drop out of school with some parents not able to raise school fees. Several mining companies don’t employ local communities they bring their own workers, the youth will be watching trucks transporting rich and expensive mineral ores for exports everyday yet its from their communities, but they can’t afford at least secondary school or tertiary. On the progress on local development and empowerment initiatives for local mining communities, a benefit sharing system must be put in place to ensure that income- generating areas substantially benefit from the revenues derived from mining or extracting activities.
Mineral resources governance through Transparency.
The future of Zimbabwe’s mining sector holds significant potential but requires collaboration, partnership and unified transformation objectives between stakeholders.The industry should work closely with companies who share similar objectives and can contribute meaningfully towards the economic growth ,development and transformation. For past months efforts to attract foreign direct investment under the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business “mantra has directed more attention to the mining sector as most major new investment deals exceeding US$7 billion were signed in the gold ,platinum ,lithium,coal,and diamond sectors.The slogan is best tailored to attract investors, But what is it at stake for citizens?. There are currently signs that the system is not working for citizens ,who then is benefitting from the major deals?,There are no drugs in hospitals,no stationery at schools ,roads are taking years to be constructed.For a country that is open for business ,government should be keen to be open about mining contracts and the sector’s contribution to the national purse.There is also need for key legal and policy reforms development including the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), development of key mineral development policies (diamond ,gold, platinum,coal and lithium ) , Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and policies that are aligned with the Africa Mining Vision.
Gender and Social Inclusion in Extractives and Land rights.
While Africa is a continent of rich minerals and resources in the world.It has countries with almost the same, unequal societies in socio-economic terms .women in the mining sector and in many poor ,mine affected communities are ranked second-class citizens.The challenges of land ,sexual harassment ,unpaid social care work are almost the same in every country.In Zimbabwe women have the same challenges but with the help of civil society organisations some solutions have been divulged through women education on human rights forums.Now more women have ventured into the mining sector and some are holders of Small Scale mining tittles and they employ a number of people at their mines. Artisanal mining is playing a good role also in mining communities, especially for women because whatever money they get,they are able to feed their families,though formalisation of the sector is seriously needed.Women now own land,there are many in commercial farming who have created employment in their communities.
Whilst there are success stories, there is still need to amplify women’s voices and increase their
capabilities in the areas of transparency, accountability and policy formulation on extractives, and to reposition women’s cooperation and coordinated advocacy and response towards an inclusive mining sector. There is also need to strengthen platforms for youths to contribute to tax for development and domestic resource mobilization.
Artisanal and Small -Scale Mining Policy
Towards supporting the ASM Sector in safe and responsible mining ,there are laws and policies that need to be changed for the ease of doing business in the sector.The licencing regime must separate the 3 groups of miners.Artisanal miners,Small scale miners and large scale miners.To help amend ASM policies suitable for small players,and to formalise artisanal mining. Alignment of Gold Trade Act and Statutory Instrument on decriminalisation on gold possession towards formalisation of artisanal mining. There is need for a computerized web-based and open mining cadastre,in this digital world disputes can be easily solved through mapping of mining locations and accessable online maps.payment of certain permits and licenses can be easily done online to save time.This can increase production and transparency in the sector.MMCZ must work closely with Small Scale miners and provide necessary markets for sale of precious stones and base minerals.To benefit the country and citizens at large.Ministry of Mines, Environment Management Agent and other stakeholders should support ASM through education on mining technical skills and awareness on mercury and other hazardous substances including working on protecting the environment ,rehabilitation and mining closure.
Tax,Debt and mineral resource governance.
As we have just started a new budget year gold deliveries to Fidelity printers and refiners continue to decline.The country continue to loose huge amounts of gold through the black market ,Small Scale miners raised their concerns about the unfavorable pricing regime of 55%cash and 45%transfer,but the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is not making effort to join international gold markets with comparative advantages to the country and the miners. They continue to sell through the Rand Refinery, yet the country has already met the required produce of 10 tonnes of bullion in 3 consecutive years to be readmitted into the London Bullion Market or other international markets like the Hong Kong Gold Market. The country have debts that need to be paid but how can the debt be paid when there is lack of mineral resource governance. Mega Mining Deals continue to be signed but the debt seems to increase and worsen the economy day by day. There is need for transparency and accountability in management and administration of mining resource revenue and leveraging on mineral resources to tackle huge debt burden and unlock development finance. Zimbabwe need to adopt regional and international best practices on mining sector transparency and accountability, like the implementation of( EITI )as I have highlighted earlier.
Climate change, technology and environmental management.
With the power cuts experienced in the country, the industries are affected, to continue running there is need to harness technology and adapt new practices. In the farming and mining sector there is need to improve energy efficiency and reduce losses. Increasing energy diversification through the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, bio-energy , hydro , wind and geo-thermal. Agriculture is a vital sector in Zimbabwe , supporting approximately 65% of the rural livelihoods and contributing between 15%-20% of Gross Domestic Product (GPD). The sector also provides more than 60 % of the raw materials required by the manufacturing industry.People in the rural areas mostly depend on rain-fed agriculture making them vulnerable to climate change , variability and impacts. Therefore there is need to implement climate smart agriculture to strengthen national and local institutions to enable farmer management of climate risks and adoption of suitable agriculture practices, technologies and systems. To do afforestation and reforestation programmes and selection of resistant tree and crop species in case of pests and diseases’ some cases, efforts also need to be made in building the capacity of policy makers to participate in international policy fora on climate change and agriculture ,and reinforce their engagement with local government authorities.
The three day workshop was packed with data that can transform the Extractive industry for development and change lives in communities.Citizens participated and aired their views ,as policy makers were present and other government representatives who testified to have noted serious issues raised by citizens, we then look forward to a massive transformation, continuous engagement and a fruitful year till the next Indaba.
The 8th edition of the ZAMI was held at Holiday Inn Bulawayo from 18-20 September 2019 and co-hosted by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) Zimbabwe Coalition of Debt and Development (ZIMCODD)and African Forum and Network On Debt and Development (AFRODAD).