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Publish What You Pay-Zim commits to continue promoting transparency and accountability in the extractives sector

Compiled by Joyce Nyamukunda-Machiri (PWYP-Zimbabwe Coordinator)

Introduction

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe introduced a 21-day lockdown which started on the 30th of March. The lockdown has been extended twice and is currently set to expire on the 17th of May 2020[1]. Essential services, industries including the mining industry are exempted from the lockdown. Mining is a critical sector for domestic resource mobilization hence the exemption from lockdowns. Missing in action is the monitoring eye by mining communities and civil society organizations (CSOs). Like never before, COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the traditional space for civil society. Work for many CSOs in Zimbabwe has been affected. Activities of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Zimbabwe, comprised of CSOs and community-based organizations (CBOs) were not sparred. Thus, the lockdown brought huge risks of derailing civil society’s watchdog role in the governance of the extractives.

Concerned that  PWYP might be missing in action, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA),  the current coordinator of PWYP coalition, facilitated a zoom strategizing session for the members on how they can effectively and creatively work on transparency and accountability issues in the mining sector in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategizing and reorganizing had to be done to remain relevant in the prevailing situation of the pandemic. Professor Tumai Murombo from Wits University of South Africa was the guest speaker who shared tips based on experiences on why and how organizations can adapt to and thrive in challenging times like these. Further, the meeting explored on mineral resource governance work in the context of COVID-19 to ensure PWYP Campaign is not left behind on globally trending issues. The session also saw members updating each other on their work.

How the PWYP members can effectively and creatively work on transparency and accountability issues in the mining sector in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Strategizing: Individually, organizations must brainstorm and see how they can adapt and remain relevant. This must also be done at the coalition level. Adaptation is quite key with a constant analysis of the context to remain on top of the game.
  • Staying connected: Due to the pandemic, the coalition is not able to meet and contact can be easily lost. Staying connected is important and being in contact as PWYP members. Frequent checks and communication remains key. These coronavirus trying times have brought stress, worry, anxiety among others. Just getting in touch is an act of care that can help the coalition to remain connected. Social support among the coalition members at such a time like this is very critical as it is a time of great vulnerability for coalitions.
  • Sharing information: To remain relevant and become effective, it is highly recommended that the coalition share information on the work being done by other members and find areas of synergies and to gather support for collective action. Several organizations are conducting activities online. The coalition has CBOs who are in the grassroots, on one hand, some of the CBOs do not have access to information and to avoid them to be left out, information must be shared amongst members. On the other hand, the CBOs are based in the areas where mining operations are taking place and can easily get to understand the mining activities in the time of the lockdown. This information can be shared among the members and this helps the coalition to remain effective and relevant.
Name of organization Work being done
Women in Law Southern Africa (WILSA) Soliciting information from other countriesOffering access to justice for women facing abuse, women with claim disputes and conflictsFiled and won a court case on access to water during lockdown for Harare avenues area residents who have not received water for quite a long timeTracking decentralization process for COVID19 testing centers Producing situational reports with a focus on women rights
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Situational reports on ASM and mining sector issuesPartnered with Murowa diamond mining company on a radio programme to raise awareness on COVID19 to mining communities and artisanal miners in Zvishavane discussing the challenges faced and how to address themDigital activism with community monitors and miners producing blogs, tweets on the effects of the pandemic and the situation on the groundFocusing on desktop researches on mineral resource governance issues
Action Aid Doing podcasts on mineral governance issues. Using podcasts to have discussions with communities and various stakeholders on COVID19, touching on transparency and accountability in fighting the pandemicCapacity building on COVID19 to communities using radio and TV.
Oxfam Media campaign for mining communities to build awareness on COVID19Developing a debt cancelation opinion paper versus COVID19 response funding Rapid assessments of ongoing government mitigatory response measures
Institute for Sustainability in Africa (INSAF) Working and keeping in touch with mining companies on fiscal systems Working on an economic model, rethinking fiscal systems in terms of taxation Training of mining companies on disclosure of taxWorking on a training for CSOs on tax disclosure using the GRI standards.
  • Keeping eyes open: The pandemic has had everyone’s attention and focus. This is the time a number of different laws and regulations from government and mining companies may be sneaked in. The coalition must keep their eyes open and monitor all actions taking place and not only have the focus on the pandemic.
  • Maintaining a balance: Most people are not used to working from home. Working remotely and coming back home presents two different worlds which requires each its own attention. The lockdowns brought in two different worlds together. To manage these two worlds, there is need for members to strike a balance. Setting aside time for work and time for family. Self-management skills must come at play. The tip is to work from home without turning homes into a work ground.

Mineral resource governance program of work

One important thing is for the coalition to remain alive to its mandate, why it was formed. This keeps the coalition going. The time requires organizations to think outside the box.

  • Online platforms of engagement must remain while incorporating all actors, nationally, regionally and internationally.
  • More information must be gathered, need to get in touch with the policy makers – parliament and the private sector. Momentum built must not be lost. The coalition must be proactive in engaging policy makers.
  •  It is the time to innovate on programming. First understand the context of operation. Most people have dived into use of technology. However, the problem made by many is to assume that everyone has access to technology, resources and gadgets. Members must also acquit themselves with technology for easier adaptation.
  • It is important for organizations to engage with service providers and work on packages suitable for their work. These include radios, TV, telecommunications and others.

An outline PWYP members work in time of COVID.

Going forward

The PWYP must take lead on transparency and accountability issues in the mining sector. Keeping engaged online, documenting work being done and sharing online. Commitments were made to work jointly. INSAF is planning a training session for the members on tax disclosure using the GRI standards.  Action Aid offered the PWYP members space in their podcast activities. Impact from the meeting is already showing, ZELA and INSAF have already participated in the podcasts on government preparedness, accountability and transparency in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


[1] The level 2 extension was further extended indefinitely, with reviews scheduled at 2-week intervals on the 16th of May 2020. Level 2 regulatory measures were maintained but with some relaxations, for example, business trading hours were adjusted to 8 am-4.30pm; ZIMSEC examination classes and tertiary final year classes to be allowed to continue under strict guidelines.

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