Communities demand transparency in mining

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Jeffrey Muvundusi

in BULAWAYO

VARIOUS stakeholders here have called for full disclosure of information on agreements governing mining activities to enhance transparency and accountability in the sector.

This follows a number of conflicts in the southern part of the country involving mining activities in protected areas.

Speaking at a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) dialogue during the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) recently, participants said they had a constitutional right to understand the terms of big mining contracts.

“Look at what happened at Hwange National Park.

“Some companies were found drilling inside the park and this caused an uproar from residents who wanted to know whether there were no other places to mine.

“The role of residents in extractive mining should be appreciated, otherwise people will just come and do as they please without conducting environmental impact assessments,” said Fidelis Chima, coordinator of Greater Hwange Residents Trust.

Chima added that local authorities should have a role in licensing mining companies.

“Local communities should benefit from their resources and this is specified under Section 13 of the Constitution and what happened at Hwange National Park shows that section was violated,” he said.

Coordinator of the African Institute for Environmental Law, Farai Mutondoro, said Parliament must play its oversight role in analysing mining contracts, and civic society organisations should also be trained to scrutinise these agreements.

Mutondoro cited the complexity of mining contracts as a major problem.

“There’s a renegotiation clause within a mining contract. Look at the Anjin deal, people are asking why Anjin is back in Marange.

“The Anjin clause says if ever there’s any change of government policies in Zimbabwe making it difficult for either party to meet its obligations, China could demand all the sum payable immediately.

“Investors will make sure there are clauses that protect their investment.

“Look at the Essar deal, people feel we lost out. This goes beyond Parliament as we need to be capacitated to analyse mining contracts,” he said.

However, other participants noted that transparency was piece-meal and communities should demand to see how revenue is shared.

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