Making diamonds sparkle for sustainable local economic development
By Richard Ncube and Mukasiri Sibanda
If Zimbabwe is to pull herself out of the deep-rooted socio-economic hardships, part of the solution lies with good management of mineral resources. Inescapably, heeding lessons from Marange diamonds debacle, for instance, is key to unleash the country mineral wealth potential.
It is a known fact that despite having a vast reserve of diamonds, Zimbabwe has not benefited much from same. This inspired the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) to organise a one-day multi-stakeholder workshop themed “Making diamonds sparkle for sustainable local socio-economic development.”
The workshop is being held today, 26 February 2019, at Sky View hotel in Mutare. At least 60 people from different stakeholder groupings are expected. Stakeholders include relevant government institutions, community-based organisations (CBOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), Faith Based Organisations (FBOs), Parliament, media and industry.
Essentially, stakeholders are expected to share and reflect on their various experiences on fighting the Marange diamond curse. Many meetings have been convened before. However, through a multi-stakeholder approach, ZELA strives to present a unique platform which collectivises diverse views from stakeholders. A move necessary to co-create strategies for following the diamond money to modernise schools, clinics, roads, water and sanitation.
Targeted government institutions include Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), Mutare Rural District Council (MRDC), and the Environment Management Agency (EMA). ZCDC is expected to share perspectives on development of the diamond mining industry in Mutare – diamond output, employment and skills development, tax contribution, community enterprise development, corporate social responsibility, and environment management.
MMCZ is supposed to share information on marketing of diamonds (by volume and value), valuation of diamonds, beneficiation and value addition, and curbing diamond leakages. Experience sharing on hinging sustainable local socio-economic development on diamond mining activities will be led by MRDC. The role of the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) in the promoting of living standards will be explored. Last year (2018), Marange Zimunya CSOT received US$5 million from ZCDC. EMA will speak on environment management issues, what has worked, what has not worked, and what must be improved.
One of the most vocal, and arguably effective parliamentary portfolios in the land is the parliamentary portfolio on mines. Over the years the committee has generated reports and recommendations on diamond issues in Marange. Its concerted effort has however not been favoured with a positive response. Zimbabwe is still grappling with issues of accountability and transparency in this sector. We therefore expect the Parliament, getting into the workshop to unravel the crux of its work, challenges and proposed solutions.
Litigation over the years has been used as a strategy by ZELA and other public interest institutions to protect and promote the realisation of community human rights in the Marange area. There are several both reported and unreported cases in the diamonds sector in Zimbabwe. This workshop seeks to educate and raise awareness among the participants and delegates on the use of litigation as a tool of change to achieve social and economic justice. The workshop will also present an opportunity to the participants to evaluate the effectiveness of litigation as a strategy.
The major stakeholder in this whole discourse are the communities in which diamond mining activities are taking place. In the ordinary scheme of things, communities are expected to benefit from the mining activities in their localities. A development that is supported by Section 13 (4), which compels government to put in place mechanism to ensure communities benefit from resources in their localities.
Be that as it may, the communities have experienced relocations and evictions over the years. The workshop will therefore endeavour to hear from communities on what has been some of their challenges in this diamond rich region. Further, the communities are expected to share their experiences with the other invited stakeholders and ask for clarifications if need be on some of the issues that are going to arise from the workshop.
One of the expected major highlights of the workshop is an International perspective to the discourse. The workshop will scrutinise the role Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to enhancing sustainable local economic and social development, and the promotion and protection of community rights. Shamiso Mtisi, the global coordinator of civil society coalition in KP will facilitate a discussion with communities, helping to unravel strength and weaknesses KPCS and to explore was of making the scheme responsive to community voices.
Finally, conversation on opening artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activities in the diamond sector will held. The nation is losing because of criminalising artisanal diamond mining activities in Marange alluvial diamond fields. Conflict between ZCDC and artisanal mining is devaluing sustainable impact of diamond mining activities. Now that ZCDC has warmed up to working with artisanal diamond miners, it is important for communities come up with strategies to pile pressure on government and ZCDC on recognising artisanal mining. KP, just like Africa Mining Vision (AMV), recognises that artisanal diamond mining is an integral component of the mining sector.