ZAMI’s ASM National Action Plan
During the 7th of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), Pact and the Zimbabwe Environment Law Association (ZELA) organised a breakaway session on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining on 11 October 2018, at Holiday Inn, Bulawayo. The ZAMI was held under the theme “Accountable and Transparent Governance of Mineral Resources: Safeguarding Development Interest of Local Communities in Mining Sector Reforms.” Participants comprised of artisanal and small-scale miners (ASMers) from key gold producing districts in Zimbabwe, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Women Empowerment Bank and Zimbabwe School of Mines, the Zimbabwe Mining Federation (ZMF) executive and a group of researchers on resource nationalism from Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Canada under York University, Canada. Below is an action plan that emanated from the ASM dialogue;
- To promote grassroots participation in mineral resource governance reforms, the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, The Gold Trade Act and Precious Stones Act, as highlighted by the State of the Nation Address (SONA)’s legislative agenda for the 9th Parliament. Key asks of AMSers and communities must be documented for each mining district and consolidated at national level for presentation to Parliament. The laws should decriminalise artisanal mining.
- To ensure that ASM because the centrepiece of government agenda on resource nationalism to ensure the communities are not dislocated from carrying out mining activities. This is in line with Section 13 (4) of national development which compels the State to put in place mechanism to ensure communities benefit from resources in their localities.
- The Finance Act of 2018 which reserved artisanal mining for indigenous players must have a definition on what constitute artisanal mining. The reform of the principal legislation governing the mining sector, the Mines and Minerals Act must embrace artisanal mining to support the Finance Act’s position.
- ASM should be opened in all mineral sectors. Government must open space for ASM in Marange diamond fields to ensure equitable exploitation of the diamonds.
- The gold development loan facility should include empowerment objectives to enable financial support to poor and marginalised ASMers. It is commendable that RBZ has set aside $20 million for women and the relaxation of collateral requires. However, it is disturbing to note that only 255 entities or individuals benefited from $74 million disbursed in 2017 according to the 2018 Monetary Policy Statement (MPS). This translate to an average loan size of $290,000 per individual. An amount which is 10 times more than the average loan size require for basic mechanisation and input support of many ASMers. Therefore, RBZ must allocate a significant portion of the gold development facility to boost productivity of poor ASMers.
- Fiscal support on exploration should be given to ASMers to ensure that their mining business activities are weaned from gambling. Also, this augurs well for the country’s quest to earn more foreign currency from ASM sector. With exploration, the geological risks associated with ASM will be lowered to unleash opportunities for increased investment into the sector.
- There is need to unpack what the 100 tonnes of annual gold production by 2023 mean in terms of sustainable and integrated rural economic development as envisioned by Africa Mining Vision. Currently, there seems to be a huge disconnect between buoyant gold production in the ASM sector well-being of key gold producing communities.
- RBZ fund should be used to maximise backward linkages in the ASM sector, local production of machinery, goods and services to improve the development dividend from the sector.
- The Zimbabwe Miners Federation should be made a statutory body and get fiscal support to facilitate mobilisation and organisation of ASMers to engage better with policy makers and other key stakeholders for responsible and profitable growth of the ASM sector.
- ASMers should document and tell their own stories to counter negative publicity fuelling public perception the sector should be outlawed.
- A case study is needed to understand how big the threat is posed by Chinese investors in the ASM sector.
- Legal aid should be offered in the ASM sector to bring civil suits to perpetrators of violence – machete wielding gangs. Suing them for medical bills, loss of income and pain will help to curb the violence which has gotten out of hand.