Home / Community Voices / How can mining communities contribute towards the us$ 12 billion mining economy by 2023?

How can mining communities contribute towards the us$ 12 billion mining economy by 2023?

By Cosmas Sunguro, Proud Nyakuni and Sandra Musonzah


Picture courtesy of ZIDAWU

Diamond mining in Zimbabwe has brought firmly rooted scepticism in diamond mining communities. Basically, limited transparency, poor accountability, corruption, illicit financial flows, poor community benefit sharing, weak environmental management practices and disruption of livelihoods paint a picture of legacy issues. This leaves one questioning whether the Government’s vision towards a USD 12 Billion mining economy by 2023 in which diamond mining is expected to contribute one billion is realistic and achievable. It is against this background the that Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) had to organise a District Alternative Mining Indaba which was attended by all stakeholders in the Mining Industry from all walks of life. From the disabled, members of Community Based Ownership Trusts  (CBOs)  of Marange,  Chiadzwa, Chief Exucutive Officer for Mutare rural District Council, Kraal heads from Marange Chieftainship, Chief Marange, Representative From Environmental Management Agency , Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Parliament  Portfolio on Ministry of Mines and  Mining Budget Finance  and Economic Development , Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamonds Company (ZCDC), Journalists  and the Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union(ZIDAWU ).

The Objectives of the Indaba

The Objectives of the Indaba were to sustain multi-stakeholder engagement for co-creation of solutions critical to ensure diamonds are mined ethically, with minimum conflict and that diamonds contribute to sustainable local socio-economic development and to build public confidence and trust in the management of Marange diamonds by promoting transparency and accountability. The dialogue between the stakeholders helped in laying out the grievances and expectations of the people in mining communities for social economic development.  There are opportunities for investment that exist specifically throughout the whole mining cycle from exploration, mining production, marketing and downstream industries. There are also opportunities for joint venture partnerships. One just has to find his or her spot as individuals, mining Communities at large and as ZIDAWU in particular in contributing towards an economically and socially inspired upper middle class and USD 12 billion mining economy.

FORMALISATION OF SMALL SCALE DIAMOND MINING AND FORMATION OF CBOs CONSORTIUMS

First and foremost we realised that we do not have to sit and wait for the Government and ZCDC to come and employ us or pay levies to CBOs and Mutare Rural District Council. The Africa Mining vision is clear and emphasizes that the mining sector must harness the potential of artisanal and small-scale mining to stimulate local/national entrepreneurship, improve livelihoods and advance integrated rural social and economic development. Therefore the government is making inroads in creating opportunities that  communities can take up. This is through encouraging formalisation of small-scale diamond mining and formation of CBOs consortiums and applying for mining contracts as well as gold and other minerals. The procedures to follow were clearly enunciated by Mr Murapa a Mines and Minerals Development Ministry official. Furthermore, it will be upon us to take the initiative of Corporate social responsibility and Environmental Impact Assessment policies and activities that are realistic, effective and favourable to our own communities. Section 73 of the Constitution provides for environmental rights, an environment that is not harmful, protected from pollution and ecological degradation. We can only fully advocate for these rights if we participate meaningfully. We have witnessed artisanal mining causing damage in our mining communities and having organised groups coming together forming companies will definitely bring order and reduce environmental damage.

It is of importance to emphasize the need to be inclusive in the way we conduct our operations while Section 17 of the Constitution talks about the need to have gender balance as well as Section 22 that talks about persons with disabilities. Disability does not mean inability, just like section 20 which encourages that reasonable steps are taken to ensure youths have access to appropriate education and training.

 SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND VALUE ADDITION CHAIN

It was made clear that mining is a technical industry that needs technical skills which are scarce in the African region. Hence, if the dialogue we had has to bear fruits we have to take the initiative as communities to empower our children by encouraging them to take the technical skills that will merit them employment by mining companies. We had to take the advantage of the courses on mining offered at Manicaland State.This also includes skills in cutting and polishing of diamond as well as production of finished pieces of jewellery. It was illustrated that a carate  of raw diamond is being sold at $75 000usd while the  ring of pure diamond is  sold at $150 000 ( double price). A clear indicator that as it is we are running losses and if we develop our skills as a community and country we will get more value of our minerals and vision 2023 of USD 12 Billion can be a reality. The African mining vision is to promote the valuation. Technical skills in beneficition should be developed and skilled negotiators should be trained to attract investors in the area. Beneficiation will bring more transparency and accountability.

LOCAL ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT And EMPLOYMENT CREATION.

Mr Sugar Chagonda a ZCDC official, in his speech stated that they promote local people through buying their products such as vegetables and poultry. Therefore, as mining activities are going to increase through formalisation of small scale diamond mining consortiums, we encourage other members of the society who think its too late for them to go to mining school and acquire mining skills to start poultry and sewing  projects to provide meat and clothing to mining companies and workers as a way of self empowerment and sustainability. However,  the mining companies do not have a legal obligation to purchase from local producers thus we recommend  that  in order to promote community development, the Mines and Minerals Amendment  Bill(MMAB) should enshrine local content policy clauses that compel mining companies to contract local enterprises in the procurement of goods and services. If incorporated in the MMAB, the local content policy will give life to local downstream industry in the mining sector. Section 14b of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that the State and its agencies must at all levels ensure that appropriate  and adequate measures are undertaken to create employment for all Zimbabweans, hence the above recommendation.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON WHAT CAN BE DONE TO EQUIP OUR COMMUNITIES.

1. We look forward to continuously upholding and advocating for accountability and transparency through monitoring and evaluation,  ensuring information gets to the people and  periodically gathering  to get feedback on activities to do with mining. Furthermore, we recommend that the Government adopts and implement  policies and legislation to develop efficiency,  competency, accountability and transparency, personal integrity and financial probity in all government institutions and agencies as provided in  Section 9 of the Constitution.

2. Encourage the youth in our communities to take up skills development course, enrol with School of Mines and venture into studying Meturlugy, Prospecting, Surveying, cutting and polishing of diamonds. There is more that can be done in areas of finished and value-added products. For instance, jewellery (wedding rings, watches, earrings), diamond drill bits (not yet locally produced) and abrasive materials (not yet locally done).

3. We  have to engage the government and other Civic societies for funding options (either on scholarships or loans) towards acquiring the necessary skills to those who are poor but have potential .Section  24c of the Constitution requires the Government and its agents to secure vocational training and development especially for the disabled, as a way of promoting work and labour. Thus, we recommend that the government have these vocational trainings to fully empower individuals that want to work in mining industry.

4. Continuously mobilising all stakeholders mining Indabas at community level where everyone can attend and engage with relevant authorities. In this case ZELA has already taken a great stride by hosting an Indaba of such magnitude.

5. That the Government finalise enactment of the Mine and Minerals Amendment Bill (MMAB) and close the  policy gaps. The MMAB must align to chapter 14(c) of the new constitution on devolution by compelling mining companies to remit levies to RDCs and shares to Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs). The inclusion of local empowerment clause in the MMAB is critical if government is serious about empowering communities.

CONCLUSION

The economy is taking a new dimension in mining and despite challenges cited at the beginning of this paper,  we encourage everyone to take his or her position in ensuring that we work towards resolving conflicts between mining communities and companies. We have to work towards the promotion of transparency and accountability. There is need to reduce minerals leakage. Lastly, but not least, we become active participants in development through acquiring gold or minerals claims, creating diamond mining consortiums, acquiring technical skills needed and start a project. The idea is to find your spot and fit in, do not be left out and watch as others grab life changing opportunities.  The vision 2023 is achievable only if we work together in building the nation, stop the blame game and do your part as a responsible citizen and encourage the other to do so as well.

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