Harnessing the power of voices- Collective action towards accountable mineral resource governance.
On the 21st of September 2021, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA), Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development(ZIMCODD) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches(ZCC) brought together more than 50 participants comprising of local traditional leaders, miners, government agencies and institutions, development coordinators, faith leaders, community members, civil society organisations and journalists drawn from the Midlands Province who gathered for the 2021 Great Dyke Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba.
The primary objective of the convening was to discuss how mining impacts negatively and positively, gather views from different stakeholders and come up with concrete recommendations towards improved mineral resource governance.
Realizing that Zimbabwe and in particular the Great Dyke province is endowed with a rich mineral base and acknowledging the urgent need to foster a culture of transparency and accountability, good governance, and sustainable development.
Mindful of the significance of ensuring that citizens are mobilized and empowered to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies, strategies that enable transformative and sustainable socio-economic development hinged on mineral wealth exploitation.
However, troubled by the growing levels of inequality in resource rich communities. Zimbabwe’s mining sector is plagued by allegations of corruption, lack of transparency, gender-based violence, conflicts as well as limited access to information and public participation in decision making processes. These cocktails of challenges have resulted in revenue from minerals resources (diamonds, gold and platinum among others) failing to meaningfully benefit the country and communities.
Saddened by the impact of COVID-19 which has gravely disrupted the whole mining supply chain, affected economies, the social fabric, and stretched service delivery capacities. Dismayed by some of the mining sector players’ failure to fully contribute towards economic development and improved service delivery.
Concerned by the challenges facing the ASM sector especially given the unsustainable manner and rudimentary means of mining being used which result in land degradation and environmental pollution.
Traumatised by the growing trend of machete wielding gangs who over the years have become a marauding menace. However, we appreciate the concerted efforts by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other stakeholders to stamp against these bands although we are disheartened to note that the ZRP’s intensified operation code named ‘Chikorokoza Ngachipere’ is also targeting artisanal miners. The machete wielding gangs must not be mistaken for artisanal miners who have resorted to artisanal mining for livelihood purposes. The sector is employing a significant number of people affected by massive unemployment and climatic shocks.
Disheartened by the recurring and increasing gender-based violence that we have witnessed in the mineral host community leading to loss of life and trauma.
It is our belief that all stakeholders should be involved in the management of natural resources and the management of revenue for development. The local community must not merely be consulted, their needs and aspirations must be considered.
Given the country’s vast mineral resource endowment, if judiciously and diligently exploited inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth, poverty alleviation, reduction of inequalities and dignity of life through transformative industrialization and job creation can be realised.
We the 2021 Great Dyke PAMI participants recommend as follows:
- Call for increased inclusion of women, youth and the vulnerable groups in mining, development and environmental issues and discourse. This will enhance their participation in decision making , governance and taking up leadership roles.
- Access to timely,reliable and affordable mining and environmental information should be priotised. This will promote transparency and accountability in the mineral hosts communities.
- A multi pronged approach to address inequalties, physical and gender based violence is very critical to ensure safe working environent in the mining sector.This is coupled with the need to strengthen the institutional and enforcement of the legal framework that governs the mining sector.
- Tax evasion, unjust tax regime , illict financial flows and corruption should be eliminated and dealt with decisively.. Contemporary tax regimes that are fair, commensurate to extraction should be introduced for increased revenue and equitable distribution of wealth.
- Measures, strategies and mechanism that resolve farmer miner conflict, miner miner conflict and miner community should be strengthened and reinforced. The mechanisms should allow fair, timely and just resolution of disputes. Line ministries and responsible institutions should work in harmony in this regard.
- To ensure a fair share of revenue to the local authority there is a need of alignment of legislation. Partnerships are also required between local authorities and mining companies to improve the quality of life for people within the host community;
- Formalization of the ASM sector is long overdue. It will ensure curbing of gold leakages and increased deliverables to Fidelity Printers and Refiners. The ASM sector should be looked at as an equal contributor in the mining sector rather than criminalizing it;
- The government should fast track the establishment and operationalisation of the Cadastre system. This will go a long way in eliminating corruption, double allocation of claims and delays in allocation of claims.
- All themining companies should carry out full Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and comply with their commitments. The mining companies must comply with environmental management plans, including mine closure plans and post closure plans as required by the Environmental Management Act;
- The reform of the archaic Mines and Minerals Act is needed. It is fundamental for the reform process to embrace artisanal mining in line with the aspirations of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) and decriminalizing a livelihood for millions of Africans;
- The coronavirus has disproportionately increased the rate of children involved in artisanal gold mining activities. Therefore, there is need for stakeholders to continuously ensure that the recent opening of schools is accompanied by nationwide reintegration campaigns to prevent children from dropping out of school;
- Mining companies should be closely monitored for compliance with labour, environment, worker safety and health laws and standards.
“Promoting Safe and Responsible Investment.”