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ZELA Press Release-Stop the Machete!

MULTISTAKEHOLDER CONVENING ON VIOLENCE IN THE ARTISANAL & SMALL-SCALE GOLD MINING SECTOR (17/01/2020)

Stop the Machete!

For immediate release

Harare, 16/01/2020- The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) with support from the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) will tomorrow host a one-day multi-stakeholder conference to discuss the attention-grabbing spate of violence in the artisanal mining sector. The meeting will accord participants an opportunity to share insights and come up with strategic interventions in a quest to contain the violence and promote responsible mineral resource governance.

The conference comes against the backdrop of a spate of violent attacks by machete wielding gangs targeting gold producing areas. Several artisanal and small-scale miners have been robbed of their gold, gold ore, money and in some instances violently dislocated from their productive gold sites.   

The fierce attacks perpetrated by the machete gangs has unfortunately left some dead and others injured. The media is awash with stories about machete gang violence which of late is worryingly escalating.

It is of interest to note that Zimbabwe’s mining sector underpins the country’ socio-economic growth prospects. Gold which is expected to contribute US$4 billion, a third of the anticipated US$12 billion earnings from mining by 2023 is undoubtedly strategic to the country’s development agenda. These anticipated development gains will remain just but numbers if the relevant stakeholders do not move in swiftly to contain the violence and ensure that artisanal and small scale gold mining sector in Zimbabwe embraces responsible sourcing practices that curb criminality, conflict, enhance traceability and clean gold trading, said ZELA’s Deputy Director and Kimberly Process (KP) civil society coordinator, Shamiso Mtisi.

 “Since gold digging is almost synonymous with USD earnings, more and more people have been attracted into Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM). “Criminals too, have found ASM to be a lucrative hunting ground. It is not only about the USD; climate change is disrupting production in the agricultural sector, thereby pushing more and more people into ASM, now a prominent source of livelihood in rural areas and some urban areas, added Mtisi.

According to ZELA’s Economic Governance Officer, Mukasiri Sibanda, the violence being carried out by machete gangs in the ASM is disturbing;

“There is a temptation to deal with the root cause of the violence swiftly to restore order in the mining sector. A major challenge with this approach is dealing with mineral resource governance issues in silos. Strategic interventions are required to fine tune the governance of the mining sector which is a critical leverage for unlocking the sustainable development dividend for the country – towards Vision 2030.

Asset disclosure, conflict of interest declaration and register is needed to ensure that senior politicians and public officials do not parcel to each other mineral rights like river bed mining. 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.

These are key governance issues to reflect on, he added.

The conference which is set to bring together civil society actors, parliamentarians, captains of industry, miners, the media and government officials will see participants going through interactive discussions on how best the country can contain violence in the mining sector.  

Apart from high level interaction, the conference is also set to come up with a declaration on advocacy measures in dealing with mineral resource governance issues.

 The fundamental right to life is intrinsically valuable and sacrosanct and should be respected by everyone.

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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: 

Mutuso Dhliwayo mutusod@zela.org Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Director (ZELA) Mob: +263 772 424 164

Clarity Sibanda clarity@zela.org Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association |Media and Communications Officer | Mob: +263 772 824 294

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

“Environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection”

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