The African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) participated in the 9th Alternative Mining Indaba which took place from 5 to 7 February in Cape Town, South Africa under the theme: Making Natural Resources Work for the People: Towards Just Legal, Policy and Institutional Reforms. The AMI drew people from across Africa and beyond, representing civil society organisations and communities affected by mining activities. The aim was to give civil society a platform to discuss problems around and solutions to mining related issues on the African continent. The event was organised into plenary sessions and side events. The event was very informative and afforded the ACCA Steering Committee (SC) members an opportunity to learn more about the challenges faced by mining communities across the continent and the activities of other organisations in the sector. The members also took the opportunity to network with other civil society organisations.
The AMI culminated in the submission of a declaration to the Mining Indaba. The declaration contained various concerns and demands from participants on the way forward. ACCA members present participated in the march to the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the declaration was presented. ACCA has since called on its members to monitor the implementation of the demands in the declaration.
ACCA hosted two events during the AMI. The first event was a panel discussion convened in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) on access to remedy. Our co-chair Ms Abiodun Baiyewu from Global Rights Nigeria made a presentation on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. ZELA then facilitated a discussion between participants, community representatives and human rights lawyers who have done some work in realising the right of access to remedy for miners. The panel dealt with a case study relating to problems with holding mining companies accountable in Zimbabwe for post-mining rehabilitation as well as compensation for miners affected by silicosis.
Together with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Bank Group, the ACCA hosted a joint outreach side event for civil society organisations in Cape Town on 6 February. This was an interactive session where members of the CAO shed more light on how their mechanisms operate. The members also explained the various challenges that the CAO faces in performing its duties and what the possible solutions are. Participants who attended this event found it very illuminating, especially since the presenters fielded all of the questions that they had. The session was well timed given that the CAO is undergoing an effectiveness review.
Overall, the AMI experience was worthwhile. It was refreshing to have so many community activists and civil society organisations in one place discussing solutions to mining issues on the continent. The event was also a great learning and networking platform which ACCA should continue to be a part of going forward.
Esther Gumbo (CALS)
ACCA SC member