CSOs call for natural resources transparency at Zimbabwe Diamond Conference

Zimbabwean Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called for transparency and the respect for community rights in natural resources utilization at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference which ended yesterday, 13 November 2012 in Victoria Falls. The conference was organized by the government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

Speaking to the Crisis Report Team today 14 November 2012, Mr Shamiso Mtisi of the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) said the meeting was a rare chance for CSOs to articulate their position on the management and utilization of natural resources to various stakeholders. Among stakeholders present were Government Officials, Kimberly Process officials, community representatives, Global Political Agreement (GPA) broker and former South African President Thabo Mbeki and international diamond players.

"The positive aspect that came out of the meeting is that as civil society we managed to make our perspectives clear and known to a wide range of stakeholders. Our focus was to ensure that message on how the diamonds should uplift the lives of the ordinary people was heard. We managed to demand for transparency and the respect for community rights by the diamond companies and local players, € Mtisi said.

Mr Mtisi went on to say that they expect the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) as well as diamond companies to be above board on diamond revenue. "We expect the diamond companies to declare their revenue and contribute to corporate social responsibility. They must make sure they address the pollution of Save and Odzi rivers and also compensate the people affected by pollution in the area of their operations. €

Speaking at the same Conference, Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, made a wide ranging call on the need for transparency in natural resources utilization particularly diamond mining and land ownership.

After bragging about having been instrumental in pushing for the clearance of Zimbabwe's diamond industry by the Kimberly Process, former SA President, Thabo Mbeki, could also not hide his disappointment with the current lack of transparency and accountability in the diamond sector. He particularly took a swipe at the involvement of "corrupt elites € who include the military in who are engaging in shoddy deals with the diamond companies.

"This country's political leadership, including all the Parties which serve in the current Inclusive Government established through the GPA, must ensure that the diamond mining industry is not governed by a predatory elite which uses its access to state power to enrich itself, against the interests of the people as a whole, acting in cohorts with the mining companies. € said Mbeki.

Speaking to the Crisis Report Team today, Director of Transparency International Zimbabwe (TZI), Mary-Jane Ncube also weighed in calling for transparency in mineral resource exploitation.

"There should be mechanisms put in place to ensure transparency and equitable management of diamond revenues. There should be equal opportunities for everyone especially in those communities which the resources are being extracted. If the government succeeds in fostering local beneficiation, the need for the whole nation to benefit from the resources must be taken into account €.


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