By Mutuso Dhliwayo& Joyce Machiri
The Zimbabwean Government was among the participants at the 8thExtractive Industries Transparency Initiative ( EITI) Global Conference held in Paris, France from the 18th -19th of June 2019. The meeting’s theme “Open Data, Build Trust”was very apt as it underpins the need for building trust between stakeholders that are involved in the implementation of the EITI Standard through the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) namely government, business and Civil Society Organizations(CSOs). Information or data that is timely, accessible and credible is key to building trust among stakeholders.
Information helps to build trust and confidence between the governing, those that are governed and those that are exploiting mineral resources. Data helps the role of business in economic development to be appreciated. Furthermore, it helps in the management of expectations by stakeholders. Lack of information results in suspicion and mistrust between stakeholders. Without information stakeholders tend to speculate resulting in unnecessary tensions and hostilities. The EITI Global conference was held at a time when trust in government globally is under strain as evidenced by shrinking civil society space which is undermining the realization of Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs).
The Government of Zimbabwe was represented by officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. These included the Permanent Secretary Mr. Onesimo Mazai Moyo, the Principal Minerals Development Officer, Mr. Rangarirai Mhazo and the Senior Legal Officer, MsNolwazi Muchinguri. During the EITI Global conference, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development held a side meeting with the EITI Secretariat that included the Deputy Head,Mr. Eddie Rich and Matthew McKernan , the Country Officer for Eastern and Southern Africa. The discussion centered on the utility of the EITI Standard in the management of natural resources that include oil, gas and minerals and the steps of joining the initiative. The Permanent Secretary also made a statement on Zimbabwe’s commitment to joining the EITI in Plenary session 6. Further side meetings were also held with the GIZ to explore the technical support that can be given to the Zimbabwe Government to poromote transparency in the mining sector especially through the negotiation of better deals.
The participation by the Ministry of Mines representatives in Zimbabwe is very significant. This is only the second time that Zimbabwean Government officials have attended the EITI Global Conference. The first was during the 5th EITI Global conference when Zimbabwe was represented by Mr. Jameson Timba during the tenure of the Inclusive Government in 2011. He was the Minister of State in the then Office of the Prime Minister. Ironically, the meeting was in Paris. To that end, Paris holds a lot of significance in Zimbabwe’s efforts to adopt the EITI. During that period Zimbabwe was in the process of adopting the Zimbabwe Mining Revenue Transparency Initiative (ZMRTI) a domestic version of EITI which was supposed to be a stepping stone towards the adoption of EITI.
ZMRTI was ended abruptly after the harmonized elections of 2013 which ended the Inclusive Government.Since then, successive Ministers of Finance and Economic Development have made reference to EITI in the National Budget Statements but without follow up actions on how to implement / operationalize it. However, with the appointment of technocrats by the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa both in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Mines and Mining Development, there seems to be a new sense of urgency to adopt EITI.The foundation was laid in the 2019 National Budget Statementwhich indicated Zimbabwe’s plans to adopt the EITI. These intencsions are also reflected in theTransitional StabilisationProgramme (TSP) and Vision 2030Document when Zimbabwe hopes to become a middle-income economy.
The objective of the government of Zimbabwe in attending the EITI was to learn and understand more about the EITI as a mineral resource governance framework including its advantages and disadvantages. As the old adage goes, ‘seeing is believing’. With that information the Government of Zimbabwe will then decide whether it will join the EITI or not.