Date: 08 October 2021
From the 4th-8th of October 2021, multiple stakeholders convened in Bulawayo for the 10th edition of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI). The 2021 ZAMI which ran under the theme, “Development Speaks: Amplifying Community Voices for improved accountability and transparency in the natural resources’ governance in Zimbabwe,” was attended by stakeholders drawn from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe comprising of representatives from Government, civil society organisations, community members, faith-based organizations (FBOs), traditional leaders; local government leaders, trade unions, media, academia and researchers.
The ZAMI 10th edition came at a time when Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) obligations of the mining sector are in the spotlight. A broad range of ESG issues like the impacts of mining on climate change, water use, labour rights, health, safety and corporate governance have become critical in the quest to ensure natural resource wealth delivers socio-economic justice and better outcomes for all.
Over the past 10 years, ZAMI has remained a pivotal annual advocacy and lobbying space. The COVID-19 pandemic has made conspicuous the need for sustainable economic systems centred on resilient economic, physical and social infrastructure. Broad multi-stakeholder collaboration is fundamental to ensure natural resources help us achieve sustainable development goals in Zimbabwe.
However, we note more still needs to be done to improve natural resource governance as evidenced from the Ward Alternative Mining Indabas (WAMIs) District Alternative Mining Indabas (DAMIs) and Provincial Alternative Mining Indabas (PAMIs). In several mining communities, locals face a cocktail of challenges such as:
– Lack of meaningful consultations of communities during decision-making processes.
-Poor governance,lack of transparency and accountability in the mineral sector.
-Systemic exclusion of People With Disabilities especially in the mining sector.
-Lack of youth involvement and participation in mineral resource governance.
Zimbabwe is a mineral resource-rich country boasting of over 40 minerals.
With proper public resources management, these minerals have the potential to transform the lives of the majority of Zimbabweans by creating employment for the citizenry as well as contributing to the fiscal purse to support socio-economic development.
We have a responsibility to safeguard the environment, failure to do so will have negative impacts now and in the future. Failure to safeguard the environment is also a contravention of the Environment Management Act as well as Section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Everyone has a right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being; and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and the future generations. Hence, the government must closely monitor the operations of mining companies including ensuring that environmental child rights are not violated.
#ZAMI 2021: Some of the key recommendations
The Government of Zimbabwe needs to;
o Ensure sustainable extraction of resources in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 14 (Life below water), and 15 (Life on land). Mineral resources are finite, and they must be extracted in a manner that ensures that future generations will also benefit from these God-given resources.
o Expedite the enactment of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill into an Act to address transparency and accountability risks and vulnerabilities associated with the archaic Mines and Minerals Act of 1961.
o Ensure that the proposed Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is hinged on transparency and accountability along the mineral value chain. It should reflect the tenets of Africa Mining Vision of having a, “Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio economic development.”
o Formalise and decriminalise the Artisanal and Small-Scale miners to optimise on their contribution to the economy. The formalisation of the sector should be coupled with incentives for players including People with Disabilities (PWD).
o The Ministry of Mines needs to conduct regular trainings on safety, health and environment issues. The knowledge acquired by artisanal and small-scale miners will go a long way in reducing mine accidents.
In the same vein, Government needs to set aside a fund which can be utilised in the event of a mine disaster. This fund can be created through proceeds from the mining sector.
o Incorporate into the mining contracts provisions that impose obligations on the mining companies to respect human rights and the highest standards of environmental, social and health protection consistent with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. .
o Incentivize all mining companies to be listed on either the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFX) or Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) to enhance transparency, accountability, and participation of locals.
o Ensure that Zimbabwe develops a policy to guide investments in all sectors of the economy i.e disclose contracts including adopting open contracting in the extractives sector.
o A whistle-blower policy should also be developed and enacted to ensure the protection of whistle-blowers.
o Urgently consider the need to implement and join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) or adopt a homegrown equivalent of the standard. This is key in promoting transparency and accountability in the management of mineral revenue.
o Desist from offering huge tax incentives in the form of tax exemptions, tax reductions, tax refunds & rebates, and tax credits to large foreign corporations. Most of these corporates especially, those in the mining sector are failing to offer meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
o In the wildlife sector, there is need to repeal the current Parks and Wildlife Act and replace it with one aligned with the constitution.
o Make provisions to compensate communities that have dealt with the trauma of loss related to Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC). The intention should be reflected in the Wildlife policy.
o Effectively consult communities as they work on the various policy changes in the wildlife sector and or any other sectors.
-Formulate a gemstone policy to guide the producers and investors in the gemstone industry.
-Establish a Gemology Centre in Mashonaland West given that most of the gemstones are produced in Mashonaland West Province.
-Support women to actively participate in the cutting and polishing of gemstones mined in Zimbabwe. This will create more jobs and wealth for the country.
-Government departments and CSOs need to work together to address the challenges faced by women miners in the gemstone and other sectors.
-Government needs to decriminalize the trading of gemstones so that precious stones are traded through the formal market. This in turn will curb the smuggling and leakages of gemstones.
-In the climate change front, Civil Society Organisations should work closely with the Government in pushing for the development of a climate change law including ensuring that communities are conscientized on how to effectively participate in the development of such laws.
Thank you for making the 2021 ZAMI a success.