MUTARE– An annual gathering of civic society, communities and stakeholders in the mining sector has kicked off amid calls for a sustainable mining development model.
The 4th Provincial Mining Indaba held in the province in the backdrop of unsustainable diamond mining, rampant human right abuses and the influx of artisanal gold mining, seeks to discuss issues of concern for communities.
Organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), the annual gathering discusses issues affecting the shack but lucrative sector underpinning Zimbabwe’s economic development, under the ZIMASSET blueprint.
ZELA Director Mutuso Dhliwayo said the indaba comes at a time when government is acceding to the growing demands for transparency and accountability in the sector to curb illicit outflow of resources.
He added that through the amendment of the Mines and Minerals bill and consolidation of diamond companies, government has given in to demands for a better legislative framework to address inherent challenges.
“The meeting comes at a time when government has accepted the calls that we have continuously made as we highlight the need for transparency and accountability, if mining is to achieve its potential to transform the economy.
“We are encouraged by these developments because they give us greater impetus as civic society that our efforts are bearing fruits,” he said.
ZELA researcher and lawyer Veronica Zano said such meetings were integral in giving communities a voice in enunciating issues of their concern at a relatively safe platform.
She said there was a need for a broad based approach to mining development to ensure that it encompasses artisanal mining, which was providing an opportunity for small scale players to participate in the sector.
“The purpose of these engagements is to ensure dialogue for development of the country from the mineral resources that we have.
“As ZELA we value these engagements with an assurance that this has given impetus to the movement of changes within the governance systems in the mining industry.
“Capacities of communities have vastly improved through these engagements as reflected by the leading role communities are now playing and the work of community monitors.
“There is need to harness benefits of mining, we look at artisanal mining as an avenue for development for ordinary people, and without government formalising it (artisinal mining) we are seeing leakages of revenue from this sector,” she said.
Malvern Mudiwa chair of Marange Development Trust, a community based organisation formed by ZELA to capacitate communities, called for a stakeholder dialogue instead of the blame game, through an alternative mining platform.
Mudiwa said there was little to show from the communities that there was diamond in their area since mining started, given the desperate situation which prevailed at the time.
“From 2006 when diamonds were discovered in Marange government was not sure of it and allowed people to mine. This changed the lives the people of Marange despite the lack of knowledge of their full value, with social amenities now affordable for most locals.
“With time came mining giants and our own opinion is that everyone was desperate and that government itself did not include communities in their planning,” he said.
Dr Solomon Mungure of Africa University’s Institute of Peace Leadership and Governance (IPLG) said there is an over-reliance on the market forces by governments. He said while mining has the potential to transform economies, over reliance on market forces was dangerous as the market is subject to failure.
He said the abuse of locals in the diamond mining area was a testimony for the failure of the market to address all concerns and the call for government to come up with progressive laws.
“Human rights abuses are a sign of market failures, which cannot be addressed by the market, but government also fails because where there is money there is politics, hence there is failure of the state.
“We are at a moment where we need to re write the law because the law gives mining precedence of land use.
“The law of mining should define who should own the mineral, the law is very terrible because it gives business power to displace community, and cost of displacement is not fully calculated,” he said.
The 2016 Manicaland Provincial Mining Indaba is running under the theme, creating shared value in the Mining Sector through engagement with people, business and government.