Zvishavane and Chivi
17 March 2022
Most of the mining is carried out in the Mhondongori area, where there is both formal and informal mining. The biggest mining company is Mimosa company which has gone a long way in trying to find consensus with communities on several issues including environmental concerns, human rights obligations in general and complaints mechanisms. Most small-scale miners are involved in gold and chrome mining and their activities massively impact both the environmental and economic rights of communities. All small-scale miners use the open cast mining method which causes environmental and land degradation.
Apart from these, there are also Chinese-owned companies whose human rights record is very poor; they simply do not subscribe to the ideal of respecting human rights.
Throughout 2020, there were no state institutions that came to educate and hold awareness campaigns for communities about the human rights impacts of mining. This role has been assumed by civil society organizations who regularly conduct training and awareness campaigns to teach communities about free, prior and informed consent to mining activities. The few engagements with government officials are on the governmental policy theme of ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’. There have not been any consultative processes with government departments, but few consultations were done by formal mining companies. Chinese-owned companies and small-scale miners do not conduct consultative or community engagement exercises at all.
There is no discernible difference between Chinese-owned companies and state-owned companies in Mhondongori. Chinese-owned companies have not produced any formal documentation upon request and there are no avenues for the community to take which would oblige them to produce their formal documents. There is a high probability that the Chinese owned companies, and possibly some state companies, do not have proper documentation. These companies appear unrestricted by rules and regulations and community expectations. Chinese-owned companies thus ignore fundamental rules; they have not initiated any corporate social responsibility schemes; they resist local employment and employ very few locals in senior technical positions. They also do not engage or initiate local enterprise development activities. Furthermore, Chinese-owned companies ignore safety, health and rehabilitation standards which are a legal requirement. More established private mining companies such as Mimosa are involved in all these activities to the benefit of local communities.
State Regulatory Institutions
There was very little interest in the human rights impacts of mining by state regulatory institutions. This meant that there were no adequate state institutions that communities could rely on in seeking protection against human rights abuses and violations. Some of the usual institutions that are used by the community include the law enforcement agencies such as the police, members of parliament and the rural district council.
There was limited involvement and engagement with these institutions due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions that reduced movement and thus monitoring. An important monitoring agency is the Environmental Management Agency which also was affected by Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and undertook very few visits.
There is no set of remedies that are offered by mining companies in cases of human rights violations. This means that community members must rely on judicial approaches which are discouragingly costly and not easily accessible. There are no other platforms to seek redress. Engagement with mining companies has not borne any fruit. It must be noted that most community members expect compensation from mining companies but there is no law that community members have seen appropriate to assist in obtaining a remedy of this nature. In some cases, civil society organisations assist persons to engage the mining companies for remedies, but this has not been successful.
Voluntary Initiatives by Mining Companies to Promote Human Rights
For 2020, there are no known human rights initiatives introduced by mining companies to promote or in respect of the human rights of communities. The few measures that were introduced relate to legal requirements for companies to adhere to COVID-19 pandemic safety and health standards.