African Coalition for Corporate Accountability
Working together to protect human rights

Civil society organisations, academics, Faith Based Organisations, the media, community based organisations, Pan-African networks and organisations, mining-affected communities and international partners convened for the 7th Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) under the theme “Making Natural Resources Work for the People, – Leaving No One Behind” which took place from 8th to the 11th of February 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. This year’s event attracted more than 350 participants. Since its inception in 2010, the AMI has become a platform where mining-affected communities, in particular, and relevant parties involved shared experiences, strategies to mobilise, advocacy and continuous development of strategic tools to challenge the powers that be in the extractive sector.

The previous AMIs led to the establishment of national and provincial AMIs (National AMIs – NAMIs) in the SADC region and the latest NAMIs took place from May to December 2015 following the February 2015 AMI. These countries include but not were limited to: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and have seen continued participation from Colombia. The AMI consisted of five intersectional themes identified as priority issues at National Mining Indabas: Environmental Sustainability; Small Scale Mining and Land; Mining and Taxation; Access to Remedy: litigation and mining; Business and Human Rights; and Gender and Extractives.

The first day of the AMI included a session on NAMI reports and experience sharing. This was championed by members of mining-affected community organisations emanating from Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Colombia. What was apparent in these presentations was that the NAMIs had the following:

  • Discussions on the relevance of current legislation and policy and the need for mining-affected communities to have a voice in legislative and policy-making processes in extractive industries;
  • Discussions on the role of participant mining-affected communities in capacitating and knowledge sharing with neighbouring communities;
  • Discussions on the need for grassroots level consultations by both government and mining companies – not only consulting chief’s and headmen;
  • Discussions on the protection of rights, particularly of women and children, and access to remedies;
  • Discussions on bridging the gap between law and reality as well as those who actually wield power and communities; and
  • Representatives from Zambia and South Africa participated in the Mozambique NAMI where trade unions, mining companies, members of parliament and the minister of finance were also present.
All the NAMIs were reported to be a success, with strategies and action plans that were to be implemented in the post NAMI phase along with themes to be incorporated into the AMI. In this light, the following presentations were made throughout this year’s AMI:
  • The Informalisation of Work: Illegal and Informal Mining from a Gender Perspective by Janet Manakamwe, PhD Candidate, Wits;
  • Community Consent Index: Oil, gas and mining company public positions on Free, Prior and Informed Consent by Chris Madden and Julie Kim, Oxfam;
  • Mine Health and Safety in South Africa by Georgine Jephson, Richard Spoor Inc Attorneys;
  • Do Social and Labour Plans Belong to Communities? Strategies of advocacy, research and litigation by Louis Snyman, Centre for Applied Legal Studies;
  • Zimbabwe NAMI Report, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA);
  • Fiscal Benchmarking Study by Benjamin Boakye, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy and;
  • Gender and Extractive: Tanzania Experience by Gloria Mafole, Advocacy and Policy analyst of Christian Council of Tanzania.
Although the AMI has grown in numbers, mining-affected communities felt underrepresented and their voice limited in the space because of the theoretical nature of the intellectual and academic debate which, in turn, fails to address the day to day realities of people in mining-affected communities. A few expressed that they came to the AMI hoping to find solutions and not merely discussions. Social and Labour Plans (known in other places as Social Beneficiation Plans) were one of the key interests for community members, what they are and with a specific interest on access to remedies where a mining company had not implemented the plans. Lastly, delegates expressed concern about the lack of representation of artisanal and small-scale mining community members.

Other features of the AMI were the introductory panel discussion sessions on the Mining Legal Clinic and its operation. The clinic sought to provide mining-affected community members and delegates with direct access to public lawyers working in pursuit of justice in the extractives sector. Its key diagnostic areas included: environmental issues, business and human rights, and free prior and informed consent (FPIC)

On Wednesday 10th of February, following experience and strategy sharing, panels and debate, the delegation drafted a declaration and marched to the Africa Mining Indaba for submission. The declaration called upon African governments, the United Nations, the African Union, international financial institutions, transnational mining corporations, other corporate mining entities, and fellow civil society organisations to collectively commit to the pursuit of justice in the exploitation of mineral resources and the benefits accruing therefrom. On the last day, Thursday 11 February, the AMI delegation attended the Africa Mining Indaba: Sustainable Development Day.

- Ayabonga Nase, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

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