Mining should promote local enterprises

HARARE- The promotion of local enterprises is central to structural transformation for sustainable economic development, a civic organisation has said.

Addressing participants at the ongoing inaugural Mineral Resource Governance summer school organised by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Africa Trust representative Briggs Bamba said promoting local enterprises would cascade to economic growth.

Bamba said Zimbabwe must develop a national consensus to tap into the opportunities available for local enterprise development.

He said without this national consensus government would struggle to ensure that communities benefit from natural resources extraction.

“Local enterprise development is central to structural transformation for sustainable development because the private player capacitation will feed into the broader national economies,” he said.

Bamba said this can only be achieved if government was to adopt strategies to compel mining companies to work with local enterprises.

“The problem with Zimbabwe is that there is no critical national consensus around economic development and this is an urgent task which calls for the development of a national vision from a broader continental action plan.

“We have the broad guideline from the African Mining Vision which must be localised and feed into a national action plan, emphasising the role of community based organisations becomes clearer in their monitoring obligations,” he said.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Dr Desire Sibanda said government was cognisant of the critical need for economic growth through support of local players in mining.

To this end Dr Sibanda said central government was working to formulate strategies and regulations to compel mining companies to partner local companies.

He said that local content development was a contested terrain as it was not in the purview of mining companies to support local companies.

“Local content development is not something that you get on a silver platter from multi national companies because their primary objective is not to promote local players but to make profits.

“That’s why as government we must come up with strategies to force these companies to comply. ZimAsset speaks to this important issue of local content development and has actually been exported to SADC.

“As a country we want to ensure beneficiation and we will support companies doing this,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said the move by government to set up Special Economic Zones was earmarked to address the issue of local content development by offering incentives for companies operating in the designated zones.

He also said government’s plan to formalise small scale artisanal mining was also another strategy being employed to ensure local communities can benefit from mining activities.

“The issue of Special Economic Zones is another strategy as it extends an invitation to big companies to operate with local companies to develop, where we give special incentives and exemptions to these companies,” he said.

Charles Mugwambi general manager of ZIMPLATS said there was need for policy consistency in government to enable mining companies to cascade beneficiation to local companies.

He said while there was commitment to promote local industry government must sanitise its rank and files.

“As a company we are committed to promote local enterprises through our various deliberate strategies however inconsistencies of government is a major problem because when a new minister comes they bring their view and this brings confusion.

“Decision making is therefore flawed because of these policy inconsistencies and as companies we want to have consistency,” he said.

ZELA information and advocacy officer Darlington Muyambwa said local content development has is a sustainable solution for local communities in resource rich countries to benefit.

He said this was central in ensuring beneficiation and cascading of economic growth to communities which bear the brunt of mining activities.

Tichaenzana Chibuwe of Save Odzi Community Trust said since the discovery of diamonds in 2006 Chinese miners have been extracting without promoting local enterprises.

He said the miners have also not employed locals and those who were employed have been systematically dismissed from the mining fields.

“Since the discovery of diamonds in 2006 we have not been benefitting. As communities we are sad about diamond and the way it has been mined for 8 years 24 hours a day we are not benefiting at all.

“The legacy that diamond mining has left for us is pollution of our rivers and death of our lives stock. These Chinese have not employed locals and those which have been employed have been dismissed from work.

“Mining companies are importing everything from tools and material even brooms are imported, there is nothing for locals,” said Chibuwe.