Playing according to our own rules: Citizens’ demands to the Government and new investors
(Side event discussion at the Peoples Convention)
Elections in Zimbabwe are preceded by beehive of activities as political parties jostle to sell their manifestos. The coming elections are interesting because for the first time since 2000 long rivals Robert Mugabe and the late Morgan Tsvangirai are not among the presidential candidates. Unlike in the past, the military pledged to support any party that comes as the winner. Political parties have come up with their Manifestos highlighting policies they are going to set in place once elected. It would be fair to conclude that citizens were not engaged in the formulation of these manifestos as there are no documented processes to support the engagements. In order to capture the expectations of ordinary Zimbabwean citizens to the incoming Government, Civil Society and Church organizations hosted the National People’s convention on the 20th of July 2018. The convention was held at Harare gardens and more than One thousand five hundred citizens participated.
Zimbabwe’s new dispensation which has been in power since November 2017 is on a campaign to woo investors under the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra. Already the Harare Administration claims to have secured 16.2 Billion worth of investments. These investments are largely in the Energy, agriculture and mining. Interestingly, while political parties manifestos’ seek to attract foreign investments, everyone is left guessing on how the engagement with the investors is going to be done. The Peoples convention accorded citizens to discuss among other issues the need for proper guidelines on investments. The Peoples Convection Discussions were shaped on five thematic areas namely; the Environment, economy, service delivery and the society. Of interest to the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA) is the thematic topic on “The Environmental Care We Want”. This theme focused on Citizens’ expectations on how the Government should address Environmental concerns come the July 30th elections. From this thematic area, Citizens demanded the following;
• Local Processing of high value Minerals(Gold, Platinum and Diamonds)
• curbing illicit financial flows in the gold and diamond sectors
• That Government should initiate use of green technologies to reduce pollution Improved Parliamentary oversight in Mining and other large scale projects
• Formalize Artisanal Miners in the mining sector to minimize land degradation and hold them accountable
• Enforce land reclamation by tributary companies in the Chrome sector
• Enforce observation of EIA mitigation strategies by mining companies.
The demands from the Citizens’ Convention are a clear reflection that citizens are keen to participate in policy formulations and the political parties should take note. Issues of Environmental care cannot be wholly entrusted to the government.