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Author: Clarity

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It’s the poor who suffer the most due to tax injustice

Compiled by Susan Muchena -Marange Development Trust.

12 November 2021

Tax evasion, tax dodging, tax exemption, illicit financial flows the list is endless that is crippling our nation. Once a nation is crippled then we the women especially young women suffer the most. Women and girls living in rural areas /marginalized areas suffer the most when public services are starved of adequate funding. This includes lack of access to free quality public health care, water, education, child care ,social protection and sexual and reproductive health services and lack of safe public transport that makes cities safer and more accessible for women, thus we call for tax reforms that will allow government to invest in people through infrastructure ,education, health, housing and social protection.

 

Illicit financial flows are movements of money or capital from one country to another or funds that are illegally earned transferred and/or utilized across on international border. The term includes tax evasion, tax avoidance scheme by transnational corporation, money laundering and transfer funds from bribery corruption and criminal activities. This is also happening in the mining section from mega contract deals to auctioning of the natural resources and these acts directly affect the citizens including newly born babies.

 

Young women in Zimbabwe are bearing the cost of regressive taxation. We use greater portion of our income on basic goods and services due to gender normal that involves care work. On these basic goods there is a direct feel of VAT that drains us day and night whilst major companies operating in Marange are failing to pay royalties and taxes, yet they are mining precious diamonds in Marange. Illicit financial flows prevent a county in mobilizing the resources required for inclusive and equitable development. The resulting financial resource outflows ultimately narrows the national tax base thus raise in basic goods prices disproportionately affecting the poorest households in rural areas and mining community especially us young woman who have several responsibilities.

 

Tax avoidance and tax breaks have deprived several communities of development especially in the mining communities to the extent that we as young women want to advocate for No To Mining. Instead of benefiting from the official mining in Marange we have suffered to the extent that Manicaland is rated among the poorest province in Zimbabwe although the Province has precious stones being mined. Social justice requires that those who are of greater means and receive greater benefits of tax policy should be responsible for a greater weight of tax burdens, unlike women who are paying tax even on buying a packet of pads that are needed monthly for the natural cycle.

 

Women are more dependent on public services as the majority are living on US $1 per day or less especially in mining communities. With corporate companies failing to pay taxes that means no inclusive and equitable development, thus increasing the unpaid care work done by women. When policy makers allocate public resources, they have to ensure allocation towards service delivery is enhanced.  For example, women from Rombe village are walking for over 8km to fetch clean water. This has reduced the time women can spend in participating in income generating projects (vegetables selling,mutsvare)and other activities.

 

In addition, lack of proper health facility and medication means when one gets sick at home a woman is expected to leave other things and provide care even a girl failing to go to school so as to look after a sick brother so as to play the gender roles .Of late there has been an outbreak of malaria caused by open pits in mining yet there is no proper medication at Chiyadzwa and Mukwada clinics.

 

The ailing health sector in Marange is a major problem for young women as we are alternating for home deliveries that are very dangerous as there are higher chances of mortality rate. With the presence of both Anjin and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) the community expected improved health services with enough medication. The proliferation of mining companies has also seen different people from different communities moving into Marange in search of employment. The area has even recorded outbreaks of sexual transmitted diseases, accidents and even unplanned pregnancies. ZCDC has not done much it terms of tax payment or perform corporate social responsibility looking at the 2019 auditor’s general report that mentioned the vanished US $140 million worth of diamonds leaving the mining communities even poorer with dust pollution, water, pollution, and environmental degradation. Women’s roles have been added including the need to be more careful with children to prevent them from falling in open pits, walking long distance to fetch firewood.

 

Through the 2030 Agenda, global leaders and countries such as Zimbabwe have made a commitment to improves the lives of the people. The Zimbabwean government has to meet international commitments to maximize available resources notably through progressive and just taxation. We, women with the help of civil society we should campaign for the government to invest in quality health care, improvement in public service delivery, vital to fulfilling human and women rights and ending gender inequality. Young women should be in decision making position so as to practise gender budgeting to ensure tax revenue are raised and spent in ways that promote gender equality, campaign for reforms in the tax system so that they do not discriminate against women. Women need to join hands and fight for rights of all women to have an equal say in how public money is spent, attending all public meetings including and not limited to Village development meetings and budget consultative meetings. In all these engagements, women should participate and share their opinions.

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MINE ENGAGES THE COMMUNITY OVER AN EIA PROCESS

Compiled by Eunica Pabwaungana from Shurugwi Community Development Trust ( SCDT)

 

11/11/21

 

When the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association ( ZELA) came in Shurugwi some  years ago as citizens  we thought they  were employers . On attending their meetings, ZELA  encouraged communities to come in turns so that everyone  will be capacitated and have  access to information on the environment,  policies , laws , business and  human rights. During the first three years  only a few were fully aware of the reasons why ZELA came into Shurugwi. Over the years, we have realised several benefits of participating in these capacity building meetings.

 

On the 8th of November 2021 the community from village 4 and 5 in ward 19 Chironde engaged  the ZIMALLOYS chrome mining company at Chikupa dam for an Environmental Impact Assessment ( EIA) process verification . The company had started their operation a week before without consulting anyone from the community even the Councillor but they since have been stopped by the community members through ward Councillor  after failing to produce an Environmental Impact Assessment ( EIA)  document.

In attendance  were the consultant  hired by the company , two mining representatives , Environmental community monitors , Data extractors ,  paralegals and human rights defenders .

After some introductions the discussions commenced in a local language so that everyone would comprehend  and effectively engage in the discussions.  

 

How the mine will operate

-Zim alloys will do their mining operations through open cast but when the level of the ore exceeds 15m  they will do the rift mining .

-They will employ many people from different places including locals.

-The ore will be transported to Gweru for processing

-Blasting methods will be done on hard rocks

-Company to compensate on any risk or dead cattle depending on which time of the day -those cattle who succumb to death during the night will not be compensated

 

Mitigation measures

-The company will  maintain pegs for easy identification

-They will put a fence within the area of operation to prevent animals  from getting through .

-They will use the syrene to highlight people in the sorrounding area.

-Their vehicles will reduce speed when  they  pass in the village and wet the road  to avoid danger and dust.

Community  demanded benefits like improved roads , scooping of Chikupa dam , borehole drilling , rehabilitaion of open pits , tributaries if possible . Company to follow all regulations , respect and report all graves if they come across one.

 

 

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The 2021 Bulawayo Youth Symposium Declaration: Key Demands

On the 3rd of October 2021, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) facilitated a Youth Symposium in Bulawayo under the theme, “Enhancing Youth Advocacy in Transparent and Accountable Public Finance Management through Simplification of the Findings of the Auditor General’s 2019 report, promoting Tax, Debt and Environmental Justice in Zimbabwe”. We, the youths who attended this symposium hereby made this declaration:

  1. Mining Sector

We recognize that Zimbabwe is a mineral resource-rich country boasting of over 40 minerals on global demand including gold, platinum, nickel, and diamonds among others. We believe that with proper public resources management, these minerals have the potential to transform the lives of the majority of Zimbabweans by creating employment for youths as well as contributing to the fiscal purse to support socio-economic development. We however, recognize the historical marginalization of youths in the mining sector and therefore, make the following demands:

(a) The mainstreaming of Youth mining activities through inclusion and improved access particularly, through making conditions favourable for youths to access loan facilities, equipment, and mining claims. This should be implemented with the provision of mining education and technical support, particularly, for young women. Further to that, the youths are demanding that people with disabilities must be included within the mining sector by setting aside mining areas that do not have a prohibitive terrain to them.

b) We demand that the government should urgently consider the need to implement and join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) or adopt a homegrown equivalent of the standard. This is key in promoting transparency and accountability in the management of mineral revenue. This also includes transparency of levies paid by companies towards the carbon credits and carbon offsets (this is about the Zambezi gas and coal mine Zimbabwe)

d) We call upon the government to immediately cancel mining contracts for middleman investors in gold mining since these are the major players in gold smuggling and the flourishing of the black-market gold trade.

e) We call upon the formalization of the Artisanal Mining Sector (ASM) so that it can contribute to domestic resource mobilization through a transparent system of taxation. Also related to this, the youths demand the government to fast-track the Mines and Mineral Amendment Bill as it is beneficial in the ASM through its strategic means to unlock the government’s potential in the mining industry.

g) We, the Youth note with concern the rate the government is borrowing abroad through non-concessionary Resource-Backed Loans (RBLs) which are shrouded in secrecy. These RBLs have increased the appetite for borrowing by the government as shown by perpetual and massive growth in public debt over the years. This is in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act that advocates for transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s debts. Section 6 of the Act makes the operations of the Public Debt Management Office a public office which forms part of the Civil Service. The growth of debt to unsustainable levels shows the disrespect to Chapter 17 of the Constitution that clearly provide limits of State borrowing, public debt and State guarantees. The secrecy around RBLs is against the global consensus and push towards the adoption of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). We, therefore, urge the government to desist from these risky loans as defaulting may lead to the foreignization of the country’s minerals. This will affect the young generations including the yet unborn.

h) We also demand sustainable extraction of resources in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 14 (Life below water), and 15 (Life on land). Mineral resources are finite and they must be extracted in a manner that ensures that future generations will also benefit from these God-given resources. Further, we have a responsibility to safeguard the environment. The failure to do so will be a contravention of the Environment Management Act of 2002 as well as Section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) Act, 2013 dealing with environmental rights. Some of these rights include the right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being; and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and the future generations. It will also fall foul to goal number 7 (environmentally sustainable and climate resilient economies and communities) of the Africa Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063. Hence, the government must closely monitor the operations of mining companies to avoid land degradation and pollution currently taking place at a great pace.

2. Taxation

Zimbabwe is in debt distress and struggling to pay its debts as evidenced by huge arrears. Statistics from the National Treasury show that of the US$10.5 billion (71.2% of GDP) external public debt being owed by Zimbabwe as of the end of December 2020, about US$6.5 billion are arrears. This huge debt overhang has crippled the revenue mobilization capacity of the government which is now resorting to massive taxation to fund its developmental programs. Ironically, the taxes being imposed by the government such as the 2% tax are regressive as the poor are paying relatively more than the rich. Hence, there is now a growing inequality gap between the rich and the poor who make the bulk of the Citizenry. Further, the tax system is not only regressive but has a lot of leakages. We, the youths are feeling the pinch of the austerity measures and therefore demand the following:

a) The government should desist from offering huge tax incentives in the form of tax exemptions, tax reductions, tax refunds & rebates, and tax credits to large foreign corporations. Most of these corporates especially, those in the mining sector are failing to offer meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives such as the construction of roads, schools, and clinics despite the harm they are causing to the mining host communities. Even if they engage in CSR, their profit-driven motive will result in little being committed to community development as they are no legally binding provisions stating the amount of CSR to be given. We demand these large corporations to transparently pay their part in taxes thereby curbing tax avoidance and evasion.

b) For far too long, poor citizens especially, women and youths have disproportionately borne the tax burden. The youths are therefore, demanding a progressive tax system where everyone pays their fair share and this includes a demand for the implementation of the wealth tax as this has a direct impact on reducing income inequality.

c) The collected tax revenue should not only be used to advance corporate interest but also include programs that positively affect the general populace. We have been fascinated by the fact that spending on social services such as healthcare, water & sanitation, decent public housing, and public education has significantly declined over the years, notwithstanding the rising cost of living in the country. For instance, the cost of education has ballooned leaving many of us, the young people, out of school yet there are no employment opportunities. As such, the affected end up indulging in drugs, prostitution, early marriages, and other criminal activities. This diminishes their God-given potentials as they will be trapped in cycles of poverty. As such, we demand the government to prioritize spending on social programs such as education and vocational training as this allows inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

3. Inclusion

We, the Youths acknowledge the role and importance for us to participate in the discourses of economic governance. However, we are excluded from these discussions as we do not have a voice yet the decisions being made such as debt contraction, taxation, and mineral extraction have a bearing on our future. As such, we demand a key seat in the incubation, formulation, and implementation of these policies.  Further, we seek to be strategically positioned in organizations or institutions that are key in the driving of the economy by virtue of us being the leaders of the future.

4. Office of Auditor General (OAG) reports

In the interrogation of the findings of the 2019 OAG report, we observed massive abuse, misappropriation, and diversion of public resources into private hands by public officials. This is significantly affecting social service delivery, with an enormous impact on the youth. We the Youths, therefore, demand the following:

a) Full implementation of the OAG audit report recommendations to strengthen our porous PFM systems.

b) Full capacitation of accountability institutions such as the National Parliament, National Prosecuting Authority, and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) among others to curb rampant corruption.

c) The government must do away with the current shenanigans of the Catch-and-Release tactics of corrupt public officials. It is past time now for these looters to face the wrath of the law. The State must try at all costs to recover the looted funds.

5. Public Debt

We, the Youths are concerned with how the burden of debt is having negative impacts on our livelihoods as well as our future. The US$10.5 billion and ZW$20.9 billion domestic and external debt respectively is now unsustainable for the country. This unsustainable debt has massively shrunk the country’s fiscal space thereby inhibiting strong government support for social development programs. In 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) survey found that Zimbabwean youths are among the world’s poorest, living in extreme poverty. In 2018, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission posited that the youths are facing challenges such as unaffordable education, lack of access to health care due to excessive poverty, child marriages and sexual abuse of young women among others. Independent researchers have revealed that the general unemployment rate stands at more than 80% with many youth graduates resorting to vending and cross border trade activities. We, therefore, demand

a)A comprehensive debt audit to inform us about the true scale and nature of the public debt which is currently shrouded in secrecy. The audit will also function as a strong building block to build public discourse around the legitimacy of some contracted loans and determine whether they should be paid or not.

b) The government should desist from reliance on borrowing especially, using Resource-Backed Loans (RBLs) as they may lead to the foreignization of the country’s assets. There is need for a robust Debt Clearance Plan with creditors. Yes, the government is cash-trapped but other avenues such as Debt Restructuring or Refinancing must be explored. The settlement of debt is not only good for expanding the fiscal space but also improving the country’s credit ratings. This is key as these credit ratings are also used by private investors when deciding countries to invest their excess funds.

c) The youths also demand Local Authorities to have a compendious debt management policy.

6. The youths regret the stratification and castration of the church in terms of economic governance and call upon the church to continue playing its prophetic role of safeguarding and keeping watch on the dignity of the citizens. The church should through its structures, deepen the linkages with policymakers and together with the youths, demand full disclosure of Government incomes, expenditures, and the debts that are contracted.

7. Key Youth Asks are ; What happened to the judgment of Mlilo versus the Minister of finance that outlawed the 2% tax? Also, we ask;What happened to the operationalization of the Movable Property Interest Security Act? We as Youths demand answers to these questions which remain key in promoting transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.

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ZAMI@10: Unpacking Alternative Mining Indaba (Concept and History)

By Dr Tinashe Gumbo

10 October 2021

 Reflecting in Celebrations

From 3 to 8 October 2021, Zimbabwe’s civil society, churches and their key stakeholders in the natural resources governance, gathered in Bulawayo, for the 10th edition of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI). It was an event characterized by songs, dance, reflection sessions and launch of various campaigns on natural resources governance.

The process ran under the theme “Amplifying Community Voices for Improved Accountability and Transparency in Natural Resources’ Governance in Zimbabwe”. The 2021 edition was critical as it was a moment for the conveners and their stakeholders to reflect on the journey that had been travelled in the last decade.

While, I make reference to some specific sessions of the 2021 ZAMI, in this piece I attempt at unpacking the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) concept for the benefit of our citizens who have not been directly involved in this process. The article is also a contribution to my blog page. Mukasiri Sibanda, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) Board Chair, a key figure in the AMIs, argued during the 2021 ZAMI that, “blogging builds the power to influence”. He has continued to challenge activists to blog, and indeed, I am complying with his “command”.

 AMI Conveners in Zimbabwe

The AMIs in Zimbabwe are being speared headed by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and ZIMCODD with direct technical support from some national and regional organisations such as the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Economic Justice Network (EJN) of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA). Other technical partners who have become critical players in AMIs include the Transparency International Zimbabwe and Publish What You Pay. International civic and ecumenical organisations have also remained key in supporting the process.

Yet, the process has birthed many community based organisations (COBs) and new networks established. As of 2021, the following have become key stakeholders in the AMI processes: Government Ministries; Parliament of Zimbabwe; labour; various CSOs (youth, women, people with disabilities); artisanal miners; traditional leaders; arts; local authorities; media; private sector; academia and research institutions.

 Key Focus Areas for 2021

The just ended ZAMI was punctuated with side (and main) sessions that focused on specific topical issues such as:

  • The extraction of oil and gas;
  • Debt, tax justice and illicit financial flows;
  • Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and labour
  • Mining and inequalities;
  • Land use and conflicts in mining communities;
  • Stewardship of the environment;
  • Litigation and defence of human rights in the natural resource governance;
  • Artisanal mining and promotion of peace;
  • Inclusivity in mining sector and
  • Faith leaders monitoring of the extractive sector among others

However, the meeting also took time to reflect on the achievements, limitations and prospects of the AMI going forward. Indeed, after ten years of activism, activists needed to look back and confirm if they were making any progress.

 An Activist who studied Activism

As an “activist who studied activism and continue to practice activism”, I was privileged to participate in the 10th edition of the ZAMI. I managed to connect (and reconnect) with others in this “activism business”. Furthermore, as someone who aspires to remain rooted in this unique form of activism, I humbly accepted an invitation from the ZAMI organisers to present on some key existing and emerging mining issues. Certainly, such an opportunity would inform my ongoing study of natural resources governance in Zimbabwe.

I discovered that a lot is happening in the mining sector: new issues that require academic, policy maker and activists ‘attention have emerged. I was one of the discussants in a side session that focused on EITI and labour with a particular interest in the role of mining companies in the implementation of EITI. I argued for a more inclusive and comprehensive definition of the “civil society, mining companies and Government and the scope of EITI”. The current definition of civil society seems to leave out key players such as social movements and other community based organisations (CBOs). Furthermore, the definition of mining companies does not give room for the consideration of those where Government has a stake. The scope of EITI also does not give much attention to some important relevant matters regarding gender, local content development (LCD), corporate social responsibility (CSR) and labour (conditions and abuses of workers). Reader, a separate discussion on this matter will be attempted.

Below, I now focus on defining the AMI (the concept and its historical development) and attempt at hinting on some of its achievements, challenges, and opportunities associated with it. This piece is directly informed by Gumbo (2020)’s Chapter 8 of his project entitled “Community-Based Activism and Local Content Development: The Case of Platinum Mining Communities in Zimbabwe” (Available online).

 An AMI as Community Activism hence “Double Movement”

Gumbo (2020) argues that an AMI is a form of community activism on natural resources governance. The AMI concept was born as a countermovement to the ongoing Mining Indaba that is held annually in Cape Town, South Africa by the mining companies. For Gumbo, an AMI is actually a “double movement” (see Karl Polanyi, 1944) where communities are reacting to the effects of market liberalism that has continued to negatively affect host mining communities in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the world.

It had been realised that the mining indabas were only meant for the capitalists who meet to strategize on how to maximise profits from the mining sector (Moreblessings Chidaushe, Norwegian Church Aid, Interview, 9 August 2018). In the same interview, Chidaushe argued that the mining companies plan for the mining of resources, yet, the host mining communities who bear the impacts of mining both socially and environmentally were (are) not part of that discussion. The companies will also invite African governments whom they “manipulate due to their compromised positions” regarding foreign direct investment (FDI) where they (governments) desperately need assistance hence acceptance to some unbearable mining conditions which affect their people. Moreover, participation at the Mining Indaba calls for one to pay more than one thousand United States Dollars (at least by 2018), a figure that cannot be afforded by the majority of citizens who may be interested in attending the indaba.

Thus, in 2010, the civil society organisations (CSOs) in Southern Africa teamed up and came up with an idea for an alternative platform for the ordinary community people to discuss issues that affect them with regards to mining activities (Gumbo, 2020). The CSOs in the region received technical support from international organisations led by the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA). The AMIs became annual events with an international one being held in Cape Town, parallel to the Mining Indaba. The concept has been cascaded to national, provincial and district platforms. Hence it has become a movement with a powerful voice that is able to challenge the international mining corporations which enjoy global support in terms of their policies (said Mukasiri Sibanda, then a ZELA Program Officer, Interview, 10 November 2016).

Since 2012, ZELA, ZIMCODD and ZCC adopted the process at provincial and national levels and in 2016 district platforms were created. I am proud to have been a key figure in the conceptualisation of the District Alternative Mining Indabas (DAMIs) when I was a Program Officer at ZIMCODD with our first one being convened in Penalonga while ZELA did the same in other different districts of operation then.

 The three organisations, managed to establish a Steering Committee which looks into the planning, organisation and convening of the annual processes at district, provincial and national levels. The committee members are also key at international level where they are involved in Cape Town processes for the international edition. The Committee is also responsible for ensuring that recommendations adopted at different AMIs are followed up for their implementation by relevant stakeholders. Thus, the 2021 ZAMI marked the 10th anniversary of the platform in Zimbabwe.

 AMIs: What For?

The objectives of the AMIs are replicated from international to district platforms. The objectives of DAMIs, PAMIs and ZAMI are directly informed by the original ones agreed upon when the idea was first muted.  Mandla Hadebe of the EJN, explained during the 2021 ZAMI that the global goal of the AMI platform is to present an alternative voice, the community voice, to that of corporates who meet annually during the Mining Indaba.

 Thus, the AMIs at different levels, through effective advocacy, will enhance transparency and accountability in the governance of natural resources leading to an Africa that extracts minerals in a more sustainable way that also ensures equitable distribution of resources among present and future generations.

Gumbo (2020), summarises the objectives as shared by the Steering Committee members as follows:

  • To provide a platform to empower communities affected and impacted by the extractives industries to reclaim their rights through the formulation of alternatives
  • To advocate for transparent, equitable and just extractives practices in the management, governance and distribution of national resources through policy and legislative reform
  • To create meaningful decision-making processes for communities advocating for just national and regional policies and corporate practices
  • To provide space for engagement for the interfaith communities, governments, CSOs and private sector to share information on natural resources

The mining sector is critical in Zimbabwe hence the communities needed the capacity to speak on their own regarding the governance of their natural resources. The AMI provides that platform where the communities engage the policy makers in a safe environment. The platform also provides solidarity among the affected communities of Great Dyke, Manicaland and other areas where mining activities are felt. Thus, issues that emerge at district level are channelled to national platforms via the provincial AMIs.

 Methodological Issues

Methodologically, the AMIs allow experts to share their perspectives on mining; government departments to update on critical policy matters; community members to share their experiences with regard to mining activities while the parliamentarians would also do the same with regards to the legislative frameworks. Local authorities and CBOs also have the opportunity to amplify their voices regarding key issues such as the CSR and LCD aspirations, taxation and others. Traditional leaders also come in to discuss the effects of mining on their cultural and religious lives particularly issues to do with prior informed consent which has remained a major concern on their part. The CSOs in their different forms share their experiences with mining (research, policy alternatives, engagement reports and other products are shared). Mining companies who attend are expected to give feedback regarding their policies on the various existing and emerging issues like taxes, CSR and LCD initiatives. Artisanal and small scale miners engage different stakeholders regarding their specific concerns.

 Break away (side) sessions allow participants to concentrate on specific areas of interest in a more detailed approach. Outcomes from such sessions inform the final resolutions that are channelled to the next phase of the AMIs. District and provincial AMIs deal with specific mining issues in the respective communities and this informs the engagement strategies in those areas. The recommendations made at every ZAMI (national AMI) are followed up with specific stakeholders and progress reported in the next meeting of the following year. Thus, testimonies coming from the communities shape the agenda of the AMI at international level.

During the 2021 ZAMI, I was privileged to represent the Steering Committee through delivering closing remarks. I certainly emphasised the fact that when the AMIs started, CSOs and churches were confrontational in terms of their methodologies. However, ten years down the line, the AMI is now a platform for progressive dialogue among CSOs, churches, parliamentarians, Government Departments, traditional leaders, local authorities and others. Strong working relationships have been built for fruitful engagement.

What is in the AMI Themes: Few Samples

Each AMI will be hinged on a particular theme that is agreed upon by the Steering Committee in consultation with communities and other stakeholders. The annual themes for the AMIs emphasise the need to make mining one of the sectors that benefit all the stakeholders as well as an encouragement for engagement (Gumbo, 2020).

 For instance, the 2016 national AMI theme was ‘Mining Sector Reforms: A Call for Economic, Social and Environmental Justice’ (2016 ZAMI Programme Report). The theme was inspired by the quest to influence then ongoing legislative and policy reforms in the mining sector and ensure that there was a conducive operating environment for mining sector to make contributions to the economy well.

For 2017 the theme was ‘Responsible and Accountable Governance of Minerals ’. This emphasised the need for good governance of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources while it also called for stakeholders to be responsible in their business.

 For 2018 the theme ran ‘Accountable and Transparent Governance of Mineral Resources: Safeguarding Development Interests of Local Communities in Mining Sector Reforms ’. This was meant to allow the stakeholders to interrogate the ongoing mining policy and legal reform processes.

The 2021 one as already given in my introduction of this article, further pushes for the amplification of the community voices on natural resources governance. This explains why EITI discussions dominated most of the sessions during the 2021 ZAMI.

Therefore, the platform asserts its authority as a progressive multi-stakeholder platform that facilitates discussion of the sector and proffering policy, legislative and programming interventions to promote sustainable mineral resources exploitation (2016 ZAMI Programme Report, cited in Gumbo, 2020). Most importantly, it allows the ordinary community member to engage the key stakeholders in the sector on critical matters affecting him or her. Thus, themes shaped the focus for each AMI.

 AMI Achievements

The 2021 ZAMI was a moment of reflection by the delegates who gathered at Holiday Inn in Bulawayo for the whole week. By the way, “COVID-19 nearly muted our voices but we innovatively kept the fire burning” (I emphasised this in my closing remarks for the ZAMI).

From 2020, thousands of delegates attended the AMIs virtually while smaller numbers anchored the processes physically. Ironically, this innovation allowed more people to follow proceedings compared to previous ones when attendance had been limited to those on the scene. What a great opportunity brought about by the COVID-19? A challenge turned into an opportunity for AMIs!

 During the 2021 ZAMI, a session to reflect on the journey travelled along the ZAMI road, presided over by Hadebe (EJN) revealed that indeed, there is more to celebrate than to mourn about. While contributing during one of the side sessions that focused on EITI and trade unions, Tatenda Mombeyarara, the ZIMCODD Northern Region Chairperson came up with superb description of the AMIs in general,  when he said “AMIs have become the universities for our ordinary people…”

 Indeed, the platform has been an educative and informative one. On the part of faith leaders, the platform provide them with an opportunity to cultivate a culture of dialogue among Zimbabweans. Through theological reflections, the Church leaders have also continued to emphasise that citizens should be good stewards of God’s resources.

 Bishop Ignatius Makumbe of the ZCC had this to say in one of the theological reflections sessions “While others may say silent is golden, indeed, when our resources are threatened by poor governance by some of us, then silence becomes costly…”

Gumbo (2020) also attempts at tracking the achievement of the AMIs in general (at least by 2020) and the following were noted:

  • The main achievement of the AMI platform is its ability to replicate itself at district, provincial and national levels beyond Cape Town. Now we talk of District Alternative Mining Indabas (DAMIs); Provincial Alternative Mining Indabas (PAMIs) and ZAMIs.
  • Enhanced engagement among stakeholders on critical natural resources matters: The methodology moved from confrontational approach to dialogue and this proves to be working as stakeholders have converged around the issues affecting our communities.
  • Traditional leaders and local communities indicated that due to the AMIs, their capacity to comprehend natural resources issues has increased and they are now able to engage at any platform
  • Relationships built among communities, local authorities and “some” mining companies have led to convergence around the real needs of the host communities when it comes to CSR and LCD programmes
  • The AMI processes saw the emergence of a considerable number of CBOs working on natural resource governance. These are found across the country but mainly concentrated in Manicaland and in the Midlands (along the Great Dyke belt) provinces.
  • Gumbo (2020) closely tracks the work of three CBOs namely the Turf Resource Conversation Trust (TRCT); Shurugwi Community Development Trust (SCDT) and Mhondongori Resource Community Development Trust (MRCT). Thus, one of the AMIs’ major achievement is the cultivation of community activism around natural resource governance.
  • The agenda of the AMIs has been consistent and Gumbo (2020) notes some important victories from the process. These include the amplification of the need for some legislative and policy reforms to address issues of CSR, LCD and farmer-miner conflicts

 Notable Gaps and Opportunities

The 2021 ZAMI delegates noted the following gaps that still need attention:

  • While issues of transparency and accountability have been on the agenda, certainly, more is still expected from the mining companies and the Government-this remains an opportunity for the AMI players to continue working on. The Parliamentarians who attended, notably the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, Hon Edward Mkaratigwa was at pains to explain why the domestication of the EITI process just vanished with the conclusion of the Unity Government. The Parliament was challenged to ensure that processes initiated are seen through to their conclusion as parliamentarians have an oversight role over other State Arms.
  • Corruption and illicit financial flows have also remained a thorn in the skin of Zimbabwe. A lot still needs to be done in this area. The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, Security and Home Affairs, Hon Brigadier General Rtd Levi Mayihlome actually lamented and hoped that “one day we will have an ethics of accountability in Zimbabwe).
  • Labour issues have also not been getting the attention they deserve. Poor working conditions, abuses by mining companies and poor remuneration need to be looked at in future AMI processes. The delegates that represented labour shared their sad experiences where they are exposed to all forms of abuse by their employers in the sector. The upcoming AMIs need to work towards influencing an expanded EITI scope.
  • The AMIs also need to closely check the status of the Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs). The previous AMIs celebrated this initiative but along the way, efforts around it faded for both the AMI players and the Government itself.

 About the Author

Dr Tinashe Gumbo, is the Team Leader, Council Programs at the ZCC. He studied the AMIs as part of his PhD. At some moment, he worked at the ZIMCODD as the Policy Research and Advocacy Program Officer. He writes this piece in his personal capacity and is responsible for any interpretation or misinterpretation of any given facts. For feedback and interaction, he can be contacted on Mobile/WhatsApp +263 773218860; Email: tinashegumbo@gmail.com; Blog: tinashegumbo.wordpress.com; Twitter: DrTinasheGumbo1

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ANJIN INVESTMENT ALLEGEDLY SHORTCHANGING LOCAL COUNCIL

Story by Josphat Makaza Environmental Justice Community Paralegal

Whilst media is awash with reports that Anjin lnvestment (Pvt) Ltd grabbed the most lucrative diamond claims in Chiadzwa the mining company has not been faithful in paying development levies to the local authority.

During interviews with mine officials and the Mutare Rural District Council, Chiadzwa Community Development Trust and environmental monitors ,it was unearthed   that the Chinese mining company owe Mutare Rural District Council thousands of dollars in unpaid levies.

For the past two years, the company has failed to remit levies to the local authority citing the unfavourable diamond marketing environment and COVID-19. The mining company however has been fully operating during the lockdown period.

Anjin Investment Pvt Ltd Human Resources Officer, Mr Mhlanga admitted that the mining company had totally betrayed the traditional leaders and local council. “Ndichambogara pasi ndimbotaura nawo nezvese zvamataura”, Mhlanga said during a question-and-answer session in Marange recently.

Mutare Rural District Council officials confirmed the development and said promises made were unfulfilled.

 In Zimbabwe according to the Section 276 of the Constitution, local authorities have power to levy rates and taxes and generally raise sufficient revenue to carry out their responsibilities. The Rural District Councils Act (Chapter 29:13), Section 97 states that a council may impose a special levy for recovering expenses which have been incurred or which the council may consider reasonably incurred in carrying out any development project within the council jurisdiction.

This however has not been working well with Anjin. MRDC is currently struggling to improve service delivery in Marange. CCDT once questioned the coming back of Anjin after Robert Mugabe in 2016 accused the mining company of looting diamonds worth $15 billion. The communities are accusing the mining company of mining without doing justice to the environment and failure to be loyal to local authorities.

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Who is to blame the EMA, community, or the company?

Compiled Susan R.Muchena-Marange Development Trust

 

20 September 2021

 

Where ever you go in any community in Zimbabwe most communities where mining is taking place have their fair share of problems that are mainly affecting them day and night and one turns to wonder where the government is or the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) are to stop this environmental degradation,water pollution,dust pollution.  One also wonders if such mining operations could have had environmental impact assessments (EIA) undertaken considering the destruction brought about.

 

On the 16th of September there was a meeting organized by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) where EMA was invited to meet communities from Marange and Chimanimani.From the teachings by Ms Alice Rutsvara EMA Manicaland’s spokesperson explained that EIA is a process of evaluating the likely impact of a proposed project or development taking into account inter related socio economic,cultural and human impacts both beneficial and adverse. The process must promote public participation through adequate community consultations. These consultations should involve all community representatives including women,children,youth ,elderly,disabled,churches,health,school and the local leadership .These meetings are spearheaded by the consultants who should explain fully the project to the community thus the community then contributes their expectations, so that they benefit fully instead of bearing the burden of irresponsible operations. She then asked why the do we blame EMA yet its the duty of the community to contributes what they want?

 

The local leadership, Mutape Chibuwe acknowledged that to some extent they are to blame as leaders. These consultants usually come without giving then time to discuss the project with the community thus they end up signing, without full knowledge of the project itself yet that is the important part which can improve their community. The other issue is poor communication of the message and even the language most community members find it difficult to understand. Distance is another barrier that has forced community members not to attend but since EMA do the ground truthing on who attend the meeting, they should state standard of a public consultation before issuing the EIA.

 

The communities acknowledged the importance of attending the consultation especially the EIA consultation which helps both the company and the community to explore the benefits and the challenges of the project, including coming up with ways on how to mitigate those challenges.Big projects like mining,road construction or dam construction are expected to have EIAs as it helps the practitioners and the government to measure the environmental damage. Many questions were raised on why a reputable company like ZCDC has been operating without an EIA certificate in the eyes of the EMA, the environment watchdog. After realizing that Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company was now mining in Tinoengana village very close by the houses causing dust noise and water pollution, the Marange Development Trust (MDT) decided to engage the company but nothing tangible was discussed thus we ended up engaging EMA.

On engagement with EMA we later realised that this diamond company has no EIA certificate, EMA failed to produce the certificate as we explained that it is the on the Zimbabwean constitution section 62 subsection 2 it clearly states that; Every person including the Zimbabwean media has the right to access to any information held by a person,including the state in so far as the information is required for the protection of a right but it was clearly that ZCDC did not have it yet it was violating the right to clean and safe environment ,right to clean safe and portable water.(Violation of rights on chapter 4).Small scale miners operating without EIAs are arrested like in Penhalonga and taken to court.Marange Development Trust after consulting ZELA about the situation, they approached the courts. It was noted that ZCDC breached the law by mining without a license from EMA but the company argued that it should be allowed to continue to operate until EMA approved its license application. Under the Zimbabwean law a mining operation can only start operating after carrying out an EIA process of its project which is approved by EMA. On August 2017 a ruling was passed by Judge David Mungota which ordered to ZCDC to desist from conducting operations in Marange until it has conducted an EIA process in accordance with the law.The questions still stands How far is ZCDC with the EIA process? If it has the EIA certificate which community was consulted and involved and what are their expectations towards sustainable development??

 

From the discussion it clearly showed that EMA was also neglecting the communities by letting companies mine without EIAs and some companies feel paying fines is cheaper that protecting the environment.We later agreed in the meeting that it is our duty as a whole to safeguard the environment for the future generations by having EIAs to promote sustainable development by measuring environmental impacts likely to be caused by the projects. The community should work hand in hand with EMA to protect the environment as the community knows their environment and can assess better if any changes arise.

 

In conclusion, EIAs are enforceable documents,thus we should as communities participate fully on the process and it is a requirement to mining companies.No company should be allowed to mine without an EIAs as this is the only document that helps us to have a good relationship with the company before it starts its operations.EIAs are mandatory whilst Corporate Social Responsibility is voluntary .

 

 

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Mutoko villagers living in fear of possible eviction

Mutoko’s Karimazondo and Chingamuka villagers are living in fear after ‘some’ Chinese officials informed them that they will be relocated to pave way for mining operations. The community members made efforts to seek clarity from the investors and local authorities on the impending relocations but to no avail.

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has since written to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development requesting information on the impending Mutoko relocations in terms of Section 7 of Freedom of Access to Information Act 1 of 2020 Chapter 10:33.

It is important to note that Mutoko community members have a right to public participation, access to information and the right not to be arbitrarily evicted as provided in terms of Section 62 and 74 of the Constitution as read with Section 4 of the Environmental Management Act. The country has taken progressive steps by putting in place legislative measures aimed at promoting sustainable development and protection of environmental rights. In essence the legal framework also provides for public participation in environmental governance for specified projects through which communities and other stakeholders are consulted as a way of assessing the likely environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of projects. In Mutoko’s case, this has not yet been done.

Stay tuned for more updates as we work together in Creating a legacy in using the law for environmental justice and sustainable natural resource governance.

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ZELA Statement on Government’s move to unbundle Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR)

18 August 2021

During the presentation of the Mid Term Budget Review on the 29th of July, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube noted that the Government of Zimbabwe is moving ahead with its plans to cede a controlling stake in the country’s sole gold buyer and refiner, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) in an effort to boost compliance levels in the trading of gold. The Government intends to offer a 60% stake in the FPR’s gold refinery and marketing arm to large-scale gold producers, major gold buying agents and small-scale producers through their associations. According to the Government, a three-year average delivery of gold to Fidelity will be used by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to determine its offer to the various players. Recently, the Reserve Bank Governor clarified that changing of the shareholder structure in FPR will not remove FPR’s monopoly on the sale and exportation of gold.

The move by Government to unbundle FPR can be a game changer in the country’s gold sector, it has the potential to improve local beneficiation, investments in the gold sector and producers’ compliance with gold trading rules. Furthermore, by allowing private companies to be part of the gold refinery process, the country stands a good chance to comply with the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) on responsible sourcing. The LBMA established the Responsible Gold Guidance for Good Delivery Refiners to combat systematic or widespread abuses of human rights, to avoid contributing to conflict, comply with high standards of anti – money laundering and combating terrorist financing practices.  Being an LBMA accredited refiner provides an assurance that the country’s practices and processes in gold refineries are aligned to the requirements of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s guidelines on Responsible gold sourcing. Compliance with OECD requirements on responsible sourcing and LBMA accreditation will ensure that our gold exports fetch the highest return on the international market. The unbundling of FPR could release resources needed for the government to comply with the LBMA’s requirements on responsible sourcing if adequate legislation is put in place for the private companies to comply with. The privatisation of the gold refinery process should therefore be linked to mechanisms to enhance responsible sourcing activities such as gold traceability initiatives.

The country lost its LBMA membership in 2008 after it failed to meet the prerequisite gold production levels. For the country to be re-admitted into the LBMA, it needs to be producing 10 tonnes of gold per year. Officially, FPR sells its gold to international markets mainly through South Africa and Dubai refineries. The value that the country acquires from selling its gold to Rand Refineries in South Africa is lower than the value that it would get if the gold export stocks were to be sold directly to LBMA and one of the major reasons is that these refiners charge for the refinery process which they do on the country’s gold exports.   Basing on FPR’s gold production and deliveries for the past few years, it is now very easy for the country to re-join the LBMA. The Government should be persuaded to get re- admitted into the LBMA as this will attract international investments and possibly remove the ‘Pariah State tag.’

The unbundling of FPR must be accompanied by comprehensive due diligence processes on the potential shareholders so that this opportunity to foster good management of gold revenue in line with section 298 of the Constitution is not lost. Using a three-year average delivery of gold to FPR as a key factor to be considered in choosing the companies to take up equity in FPR is not enough, given that the Government is incorporating the private sector in the management of gold.  Shareholders should be able to demonstrate that they are in position to comply with the best international standards on promotion of human rights including proposals to eliminate Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) or adopt OECD guidelines on responsible sourcing. The Government might also consider including a condition that the shareholders should have a clean tax clearance certificate or evidence of a good human rights promotion record as part of its application to acquire shares in FPR. Such due diligence processes would enable the government to attract responsible investments into the gold sector and reduce risks of the government losing revenue from investors who may have a bad history of evading tax and being involved in illicit gold trade.

Moreso, the Government should consider making it mandatory for all shareholders who are going to take up equity in FPR to list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) or the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFS). This will open a window for citizens to hold the companies to account on mineral revenue transparency since companies will be expected to publicly disclose their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information in line with international best practices.  

During the Mid Term Budget Review presentation, Minister Mthuli indicated that 10 shareholders have offered to take up shareholding in FPR. However, names of these shareholders were not disclosed. There is an expectation from citizens that Government will share the names of the companies and their ultimate beneficiaries. This is necessary to remove suspicions that citizens always have that such mining deals are targeted to benefit the investors at the expense of the country’s development efforts. Currently, there are speculations that Freda Rebecca (now under Kuvimba Mining House) is likely to be one of the companies that will be considered to take up equity in FPR since it is one of the biggest gold producing companies in Zimbabwe. According to information that has been shared in the media, Government has a controlling stake (65%) in Kuvimba Mining House. However, this information cannot be verified by the public as there is no public disclosure of beneficial registry. Commendably, in January last year, Zimbabwe included beneficial ownership disclosure requirements in the new Companies and Other Business Entities Act [Chapter 24:31]. Under the new Company’s Act, companies are obligated to keep an up-to-date list of their beneficial owners and must frequently update the Registrar of Companies if there are any changes to the beneficial owners. However, the major challenge is that there is no public disclosure of the beneficial registry, a situation that may still cause corruption in the management of mineral revenue and money laundering to thrive.  As part of efforts to adopt international best practices on curbing corruption and improve extractive sector transparency, countries such as Nigeria and Zambia, for example, have embraced a public beneficial ownership registry in their laws.

More importantly, the Government should expedite its steps to adopt and implement international standards such as Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) to address the transparency and accountability deficits in the mining sector. Adoption of EITI will help the country to fight the scourge of corruption by Government officials in the mining sector, improve rule of law, accelerate economic reforms, protect businesses’ investments, attract the much-needed Foreign Direct Investment and possibly trigger removal of restrictions.  

ENDS//

 Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

“Celebrating two decades of promoting environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection.”

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Domboshava gold;curse or blessing?

30 July 2021

Compiled by Domboshava Residents Trust

The discovery of gold deposits in ward 4 recently has brought mixed reactions from the people of Domboshava, a village in the province of Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe.It is reported that the gold mine is rich with precious stones with the news that some are claiming as much as 2kgs production per day having set some tongues wagging. It is the general feeling that local resources should help develop the Nyamande community extending the tarred road done by the late sociate ‘Ginimbi’ to cover up to Gutsa shoppping centre. With the rumoured figures being realised at the mine, the proceeds could even build a secondary school, or even having the revenue channeled towards the construction of the much needed hospital.

GOLD is a finite resource and people will regret the opportunity when the gold is depleted without much development to the community which will be left to bear the brunt of disused pits left at the mercy of the community posing a danger to the environment. As it stands, clearly there is no plan for reclamation of the environment in these artisanal mines.

Residents interviewed who spoke on condition of anonymity bemoaned the presence of people from outside the area benefiting from the mine and locals being turned away. The presence of high security personnel has equally deterred many from attempting to access the gold mine. One young man expressed fear of the emergence of the notorious machete gangs who have become unpopular in resource rich areas.

As a BLESSING some privileged few residents are cruising in new cars from the proceeds of the mine while some are turning green with envy. God knows what lies ahead for the community of Domboshava.

 domboshavaresidentstrust@gmail.com

domboshavacommunitytrust@gmail.com

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AUDITOR GENERAL’s REPORT ON ZIMBABWE CONSOLIDATED DIAMOND COMPANY (ZCDC) HAUNTS MARANGE COMMUNITY

10 July, 2021

The Office of Auditor General (OAG) report of year ending 2019 came at the right time when the government of Zimbabwe is clamoring for a vision of an upper middle- income economy by 2030. As always anticipated by many, it brought some juicy news, surprises, and some shock as to how the State- Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have been operating. Our interest is the audit for Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC). The Auditor General’s Report revealed the poor procurement standards, failure by ZCDC to properly account for diamond stocks, failure to comply with tender rules on the sale of diamond, failure to account for the amounts that the State-Owned Enterprise (SOEs) is owned by other entities among other issues. These issues raise red flags on its governance systems. There is a huge possibility that something could have been happening which points to leakages of diamond revenue.  

The consolidation of diamond companies in Chiadzwa brought hopes to people who were disappointed by the failure of previous diamond companies to bring community development and improve social service delivery in the area. The Zimbabwe Mining Diamond Corporation (ZMDC) gave birth to ZCDC and the government’s main drive for establishing ZCDC was to ensure transparency, accountability and optimal commercial exploitation and marketing of Zimbabwe’s diamonds. The community members and the nation at large thought mismanagement of diamond revenue as was witnessed in the previous era, where US$ 15 Billion was alleged to have been lost, would never be repeated with the government at the helm of diamond mining value chain. However, the revelations from the recently released Auditor General’s report on SOEs) proved the people otherwise. The report revealed glaring loopholes in how the nation’s wealth is being managed by the diamond mining giant.

The Auditor General’ report raised loopholes in procurement systems of ZCDC and heightened red flags on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and this is a sad scenario for a community that is looking forward to receiving developmental benefits from diamond mining in Marange. There is anger in people whose hopes of benefiting from Chiadzwa diamond are fading away year in and year out.  It goes to support the Chiadzwa community’s assertion that, they benefitted more from the diamond during the diamonds rush period in 2006 better known by locals as “bvupfuwe” (abundance period). Their lives changed for the better. The formal diamond mining seems to indicate that it brought misery and more poverty to the locals. This revelation sets a bad precedent to other mining companies given that it is a SOE). Its formation in 2015 was mainly premised on the need to sanity into diamond mining sector. What is being revealed by the Auditor General’s Report is a proof that ZCDC is failing to live up to its standards and intended mandate.  In 2018, the government made a move to parcel out part of ZCDC’s diamond fields to other mining companies and this was after the government observed that ZCDC had capacity issues. This latest audit report seems to substantiate the observations by government.    

ZCDC is primarily domiciled in Chiadzwa where it does its operations. Already, there are pending projects that need to be completed besides the others eagerly anticipated by Communities. The road to Chiadzwa is in a dilapidated state and a few public vehicles still use that road making the area inaccessible. Most people now prefer to use the Hot springs route when coming to town, which is longer and more expensive.  The heavy vehicles of the mining companies have further damaged the company and do not care to construct the road. The former ZCDC chief executive officer Mr de Preto once agreed that ” it was high time the people of Chiadzwa witness meaningful development through various projects initiated by the company”. Here, we are in 2021, the community is yet to access meaningful benefits from the diamond endowment. In fact, the hopes of getting meaningful benefits from Chiadzwa’s diamonds are fading away  

While the past acts of mismanagement of previous funds as revealed by past audit reports of ZCDC’s predecessor, ZMDC may have been avoided, this current case sends tongues wagging.  For how long the communities and Mutare rural district council continue missing their benefits from diamond mining? The results of the Auditor General’s report comes at a time when the company has been recording persistent losses a situation that has been incapacitating the company to pay dividends to government and fund community development. The education system could have been uplifted by constructing classroom blocks, furnishing the schools with furniture and books or drilling boreholes, but not much was done other than doing renovations of few classroom blocks. The company made a promise to build classroom blocks at Rombe Primary school. However, it is now 5 years after this promise was made and there is not much meaningful progress. Apparently, school children are now walking more than 5 kilometers to and from home.

There isn’t many socio -economically valuable projects that the company has accomplished since its operations began in 2016. Health facilities remain poor with women and girls walking about 10km to and fro to access clinics. The most disheartening situation is that the clinic doesn’t have basic supplies most of the time. There are no ambulances at clinics and with the state of roads in most cases, sick people get stuck on the road when they are in dire and immediate need of health care and as such complications and deaths in some instances are the order of the day.  After all health is a basic right as provided in Section 76 of the Constitution (Zimbabwean Constitution of 2013). There are 21 clinics in the district, and all need some facelift. They are short staffed, and medicines and drugs are not enough. According to Mutare Rural district council official, ZCDC has of late not been honoring its mandate of paying their taxes timeously”.

 We have missed opportunities to grow and develop economically as a nation through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in the diamond sector. According to Malvin Mudiwa of Marange Development Trust, a community -based organization in Marange, ” The figures indicated in the report i are a wakeup call for communities to guide jealously on how their resources are being managed. It can be an indicator that fraud could have taken place “.

Community beneficiation remains a topical issue in Chiadzwa. This word is often used by politicians and some ZCDC officials without much care. It is with much hope that the dusty roads leading to Chiadzwa be attended to including their bridges. Apparently, the public transporter ZUPCO is shunning the 50 kilometers road because it’s not fit for use by bigger coaches. This has left the community at the mercy of private transporters who charge exorbitant fares. With the Covid 19 restrictions in place, this has made it difficult to travel. As a precautionary measure, the company is alleged to have been using soil to cover potholes and this does not last a distance. The roads simply need resurfacing since they were destroyed by Cyclone Idai in 2019. The community expects the resurfacing of the road because it regularly used by the mining companies.

Communities have a right to voice concern about the way funds are handled given that resources are found in their area. Section 13 (4) of the Constitution provides that communities must benefit from their mineral resources in their respective areas. ZCDC being a state entity is obliged to timely release their audited annual reports  for public scrutiny . While for the first time they have done so (for its 2016, 2017 and 2018 financial  it is worrying to note that they have been reporting losses for the past three years. According to Mr Chiadzwa, one of the traditional leaders, ” the company has been operating for 24 hours a day since consolidation. If they are not making profits why not stop?”  For sure the company invested more than a billion in the procurement of equipment imported from Belarus and the expectation was that this would translate into profits and revenue flows to government and local authorities. However, the results on the ground indicate otherwise.   We are not sure if the company’s performance in 2021 will improve. In 2020, the company indicated that they had about 2 million carats of diamond stock which was waiting for the market. We are not sure if these stocks changed the trajectory of the company’s financial performance in 2020.  We are in 2021 and the company has not yet published its audited annual financial statement for 2020.

While ZCDC claims to have carried a couple of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), this has not been justified in the eyes of the locals. For example, In 2018 the company built a state of art vegetable market mall in Sakubva. The company also donated some food hampers and agricultural input to some community members in Arda Transau and Marange end of 2018. To them this is far from meaningful development in their area. The families relocated to Arda Transau are going for several weeks without drinking water yet the company can simply drill approximately 100 boreholes to save the situation. A recent visit to Chirasika primary school revealed that some pupils were learning in disused wooden cabinets at the school. They have even gone on to do a makeshift wooden block to accommodate all local pupils. Proper management of the diamond revenue would have gone a long way to change fortunes of the community. According to a study by Veronica Zano and Joyce Machiri ,” Companies must invest in infrastructure ( portable water, electricity, schools, roads, hospitals), building social capital and human capital…” . They reiterated that there is ” need to instill public confidence in public institutions”.

It is quite unfortunate that Zimunya Marange Community Share Ownership Trust, an organization formed to spearhead development in the area has literally failed to live to their expectations. The last time they were given $5million United States dollars by ZCDC, the funding failed to make any meaningful impact due to different reasons. Among them was administrative bungling, change in currency exchange policy and procrastination. To show that the people of Chiadzwa are not a happy lot, they were once involved in a series of demonstrations. The company only rescued the situation by coming up with a Diamond security Indaba which to date has not meaningfully brought the intended progress to the community.

Conclusion

It is high time that ZCDC takes the needs of the people into consideration lest the community of Chiadzwa will be forced to lash out and demand the mining activities be stopped until a time the Government and mining companies are willing to ensure there is community beneficiation. The previous sporadic demonstrations in 2018 and 2019 should be taken as a key lesson for the company.  The community is aware that there is need to have the social license to operate and the social license to operate can only be obtained if the company addresses community’s demands.

Recommendations

There are several recommendations that can be made to address the challenges being experienced by locals where ZCDC is operating.

Government needs to investigate ZCDC’s mandate and revamp its administration so that there is transparency, accountability and practical will to fulfill its mandate.

  • ZCDC should lead other mining companies by example by paying taxes to Mutare Rural District Council timeously while the money still has value.
  • There is need to establish a Community Forum consisting of all stakeholders that will have meaningful development dialogue from time to time and involve the community in prioritization and development of CSR projects.
  • The mining companies to seek social license to operate
  • There is a great need to close all loopholes leading to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) by being transparent and accountable in their operations.