By Thomas Chidamba
Mining investors must ensure that they uphold national, regional and international frameworks on responsible investment including the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Mines and Mineral’s Act, and United Nations Guidelines on business and human rights.
This was said by delegates at the just ended Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba held in Bulawayo last month.
149 delegates drawn from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe comprising of representatives from Government, civil society Organisations, community members, faith-based organizations (FBOs), traditional leaders; local government leaders, trade unions, media, academia and researchers convened in the country’s second largest City for the 9th edition of ZAMI which ran under the theme: “Towards an Inclusive and equitable US$12 billion mining industry anchored on sustainable mineral resource management” deliberated on responsible mining, public finance management, climate change, youth and citizen participation, mining policy review, gender and extractives.
According to a statement published by ZAMI after the meeting, mining investors were urged to respect the country’s laws and uphold human rights in their operations.
“Whilst it appears as business as usual for large scale mining companies, communities are wallowing in abject poverty and social and economic deprivation.
“This is quite evident in mining host communities which are not deriving any meaningful benefits from the resources extracted in their localities.
“Instead of realizing social and economic justice from mining activities in their areas, the communities are left with ecological debt, entrenched poverty and inequalities in various forms.
“Some of the mining companies are allegedly violating human rights and failing to respect economic, social and environmental rights. “Therefore, mining investors must ensure that they uphold national, regional and international frameworks on responsible investment including the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Mines and Mineral’s Act, and United Nations Guidelines on business and human rights.
“This will ensure that the investors respect and protect human rights, as well as provide remedy for rights violations, regardless of whether governments are able or willing to protect these rights.”
The meeting noted that locals have not benefited from the vast mineral resources that the country possesses.
“Zimbabwe’s resource wealth has been associated with “poverty, conflict and corruption”, as resources have not always translated into higher levels of household income and/ poverty reduction.
“The government must ensure that the mining induced inequality gap is closed, and that mineral revenue is equitably distributed.
“Thus, there is need for the formulation, adoption and implementation of a fiscal decentralisation policy so that public finance management is devolved to local authorities who can in turn control and tax mining corporations in their localities.”
They government to speed up the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Bill that is now before the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
“The Mines and Minerals Bill must be brought to finality after adequate consultation of all stakeholders. The Bill must also capture the formalization of artisanal mining, a sector sustaining livelihoods of many who need to be legally recognised and supported;
“The policy makers must ensure that the Bill encompasses Public Finance Management (PFM)’s components that are in line with Section 298 of the Zimbabwe Constitution. Zimbabwe already has a weak PFM system which must be strengthened and aligned with Chapter 17 of the Constitution.
“The Mines and Minerals Parliamentary Portfolio Committee must push for the adoption and implementation of the mining cadastre system which will help in the generation of reliable information including mining titles, beneficial ownership, and mining contract registries;
“The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development should adopt provisions that provide for open contract disclosures, performance monitoring of mining contracts and online register of contracts in the proposed Mines and Minerals Bill;
“The Mines and Minerals Bill must provide for parliamentary oversight of mining contracts in line with section 315 (2) (c) of the national Constitution to ensure transparency and accountability in the negotiation of mining contracts.”