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Over 250 delegates participated in this year’s Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) which took place in Bulawayo from 23rd – 24th September 2015 at Holiday Inn Hotel. The annual gathering, which was organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), has become the first alternative space in which communities, civil society organisations, mining companies, legislators and the executive of government engaged in real conversations on events shaping mineral resource governance in Zimbabwe.

Owing to the mutual mistrust between government and civil society, the relations between the two camps have been distant. As a result of these Cold War like relations, development was usually side-lined which meant that communities ultimately bear the burden of this polarization.

What was unique about this year’s ZAMI was the manner in which the theme of “Creating Shared Values in the Mining Sector through Engagement with People, Business and Government” was embraced. ZAMI 2015 provided an interactive space which permitted for an array of perspectives on some of the challenges with which the mining sector is faced including a platform where collective commitments in addressing these challenges were forged. As noted by a delegate from Manicaland, Jane Muyambo: “It is surprising and very encouraging to see the participation of the Honourable deputy Minister throughout this Indaba, and to have him answer to each and every question”. It was promising to have all stakeholders provide an account on the state of mining. Communities who usually blame government for their exclusion had the opportunity to understand government’s plans and to receive feedback on some of the initiatives to improve mineral resource governance.

The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development indicated that the Mines and Minerals Act had already been passed through cabinet amidst the recommendation from the delegates on the need to formulate a completely new Mines and Minerals Act which is in line with the principles of the African Mining Vision formulated in 2009 by the African Heads of States.

A critical lesson that emerged from the Indaba was the need to reassess our models and ways of engagement to ensure that every perspective to an issue is factored into account. The 2015 Indaba managed to renew trust amongst some of the stakeholders, demonstrated that the possibility for engagement still exists, and that through means of effective engagement with relevant parties most of these challenges can be adequately addressed. Important recommendations included, but were not limited to: the need to create an enabling environment for value added processes in the mining sector which entails improving the power situation required for powering heavy machinery, along with the need for mechanisms supporting local content development in the mining area by granting various incentives. In this vein, foreign investors are granted incentives when attracting foreign direct investments to the country. 

Based on the discussions during the ZAMI, delegates committed themselves to ensuring that existing national and international transparency and accountability initiatives are streamlined. In spite of numerous announcements from the previous 3 annual budget statements, Zimbabwe is not compliant with the Extractive Industry’s Transparency Initiative (EITI), but emphasised the need to improve transparency and accountability within the needy sector.

Another call was made for the need to implement measures aimed at improving the implementation and management of the Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOT) established under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. The call included publishing audited financial accounts in a language that is easily understood by the beneficiary community members, ensuring meaningful representation of women, youth and persons with disabilities as interest groups in all CSOT Boards and revision of the law to make the establishment of CSOT mandatory.

Government was challenged to expedite the formalisation of artisanal mining and create a department of small-scale and artisanal mining in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. The backbone of this new department should be the provision of financial and technical support to artisanal and small-scale mining based on its indispensable role in the country’s economy.

In conclusion, stakeholders hope that these recommendations will be implemented to their fullest and that engagement and accountability will continue to foster a new frontier of inclusive and sustainable development where the views of stakeholders are factored into consideration in the formation of public policy.

- Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)

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