Our rights matter
By Makara Alice Masawi
As the world celebrated the Global week for Tax Justice, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association managed to facilitate a workshop on the 15th of March 2019 which was held at a local hotel in Gwanda.The meeting on Global Tax Justice for women ‘s rights attracted different stakeholders participating in the mining value chain.
According to the participants,the mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ is just a mere utterance that has brought nothing but pain to the Gwanda rural communities as a result of foreign companies who are mining without considering community rights and needs.
According to the national constitution and specifically Section 13, communities should benefit from the resources in their localities but such cannot be said about Gwanda.
Community Share Ownership Trust started operating in 2012 and some of the big mines such as Blanket mine,PPC were giving back their dividends of 10% to the community through the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT).During the previous years,CSOT managed to record meaningful results including the construction of a local clinic and a labour waiting room in Silikwe area and also installing of electricity at the clinic which also resulted in five nearby schools benefitting indirectly from the electricity.Scholarships were also given to students who were doing science subjects.Drilling of boreholes and building of school laboratories are some of the biggest achievements the CSOT managed to achieve.
Section 76 of the constitution clearly states that everyone has a right to Health care services but our rights are being infringed especially in ward 22 resettlement area where community members are forced to walk more than 10km to access a local clinic.The distance has resulted maternal deaths being recorded and those with chronic diseases not being spared.
The Government is desperate for investors which is a really good thing but for us investment must also translate to human development.
Out of the five companies operating in Gwanda only two are complying in giving out their 10% dividends while the rest are not complying which has shortchanged the community.
Rural electrification fund is the money that is paid by the mines to develop the communities but women have to endure long distances in search for fire wood.All we want is to have biogas in our homes as well as solar panels that will reduce cases of rape that are highly recorded in the area.Women are going through a lot of challenges including domestic violence, and emotional abuse because of these challenges we are facing each day because of not having energy in the community.
Men in the communities are working in the mines and getting decent salaries and this is also worsening inequality.Some women have resorted economic scavengers in vending,prostitution and child minding but we need decent jobs and decent salaries to sustain our families.
Zimbabwe is open for business YES and this must translate to the emancipation of women and infrastuctural development of the community.It remains everyone’s duty to ensure that women’s rights are respected and not infringed.