Civil Society calls for robust reforms in the extractive industry

The Civil society organised Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba came to an end yesterday on a higher note with the handing of a CSOs Declaration to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. The Indaba which was running under the theme 'Counting the costs and questioning the benefits' was co- hosted by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) and   Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). The Indaba took place from the 11th to the 13th of September 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare. The Alternative Mining Indaba which was being held on the sidelines of a government organised Mining Conference was attended by more than 120 delegates.

The Declaration which was endorsed by civil society organisations present, sought to raise concerns that there has been an inhibiting factor in improving citizens' beneficiation in the extractive industry. Delegates bemoaned lack of good governance, transparency and accountability, environmental sustainability, socio- economic justice and human rights in the extractive industry.

CSOs called for the implementation of a raft of reforms in the extractive industry. The government was urged to continue pressing for the expeditious finalisation of the constitution making process so that people can begin to enjoy their socio-economic and cultural rights and benefits. Participants also called on the government of Zimbabwe to create a legal framework and an enabling mechanism that allows legislators to play their oversight role to ensure transparency and accountability in the mining sector.

Further calls were made for the authorities to empower the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to act on human rights and environmental abuses in the mining sector respectively. Members of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust who were adequately represented appealed to the government to craft a policy that would make   corporate social responsibility   mandatory coupled with minimum standards for mines to support local community development initiatives.

In light of the sacrilegious way in which some mining contracts were penned between the government of Zimbabwe and foreign investors, the Indaba called for the review and renegotiation of all mining contracts to enhance economic growth and direct community development.

There was a united agreement among delegates that the government should make no further delays in passing, or implementing a repertoire of relevant legal instruments such as the Diamond Act, the Diamond Policy, the SADC Mining Protocol and the African Mining Vision (AMV) as well as taking into consideration recommendations contained in the African Mining Vision's Action Plan. In an apparent attack at Chinese investors, a collective call was made for the reviewing of the mining tax regime to ensure proportionate revenue collection on mineral sales, and curbing of excessive tax incentives on foreign direct investment and tax evasion.

The Small scale miners and the yet to be regularised artisanal Diamond miners appealed to the government of Zimbabwe to finalise the legalisation and regularisation of artisanal and small scale mining and strengthen women and youth participation in the mining sector.

Civil society reiterated the need for government to ensure that community Share Ownership Schemes indiscriminately enable communities directly affected by mining activities to benefit. The government was urged to establish other environmental and social funds such as royalties for communities, a stabilisation fund, heritage/future fund, decommissioning fund, CAMPFIRE fund, mine rehabilitation and closure fund.

Speaking during the closing ceremony of the Indaba, Mr Shamiso Mtisi, an environmental Lawyer with ZELA applauded the delegates for having made the Indaba a success and that as organisers they had managed to create a platform for consensus building among different players in the extractive industry. "We intended to create a platform for people from all walks of life who are interested in the extractive industry to have a robust discussion for three days. We have basically succeeded in coming up with a coherent and nuanced position on the extractive industry as civil society beyond slogans and platitudes. We have captured these views in the Declaration which we will deliver to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and the Inclusive government at large €, said Shamiso Mtisi

The Alternative Mining Indaba which was being held on the sidelines of a government organised Mining Conference was attended by more than 120 delegates drawn from traditional leaders, faith based organisations , youth groups, women groups, non-governmental organisations, legislators, media , community based organisations, activists and regional representatives from South Africa and Zambia. A regional People's Mining Indaba is expected to be held in South Africa mid next year.

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