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Mutare — Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines Edmund Mkaratigwa recently revealed that reluctance to adopt international initiatives in the mining sector, was borne out of ignorance of befits accruing to the country.
Mkaratigwa said the slow pace of adoption of the Extractive Transparency Initiative (EITI) was a reflection, across the board, of government’s lack of understanding of the benefits of joining the initiative.
He said even members of the portfolio on mines are wary of the widely accepted EITI because they equate it to austerity measures of the notorious Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) which precipitated in the economic decline in the country.
He said there was the need to build technical capacity in government ministries, departments to ensure that officials understand the benefits of joining and ensuring that the policy is domesticated.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done before the country joins EITI, training of personnel from Ministry, Chamber of Mines, we need a buy-in from all stakeholders before the program rolling out fully.
“Even members in my the Mines portfolio committee fears that EITI is similar to ESAP which caused a lot of suffering of masses in the nineties, so we urge CSOs to take on board all stakeholder before we criticize slow implementation.
“We need to be very patient and very articulate,” he said.
Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube initially indicated that the country would join EITI in his 2019 national budget statement, but has remained coy on the matter in successive national financial plans.
Civic society organisations including Transparency International (TI) Zimbabwe, Publish What You Pay, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) have been pushing for EITI adoption.
ZELA commissioned research, through the Africa Institute of Environmental Law (AIEL), on transparency policies and legislation in the country shines a light on the transparency and accountability provisions in the local mining sector legal framework.
The report shows that from the Supreme law to fourteen acts of parliament that demand transparency or accountability, Zimbabwe already has the legislation, implementation is the real challenge.
Zimbabwe has fallen in the resource curse where resource-rich developing countries have experienced low per capita growth slow progress on human development, sociopolitical instability and violence.
“The battle for mineral sector data disclosure has been in direct response to the realization that the exploitation of mineral resources has huge negative social cost aptly termed the resource curse (RC) or resource paradox.
“These challenges associated with resource curse manifest primarily as a result of lack of transparency and accountability in the governance of the mining sector,” says Farai Mutondoro, lead researcher, Africa Institute for Environmental Law (AIEL).
Tracking trends on contract disclosure, transparency and accountability in Africa point toward Zimbabwe’s lagging behind its regional peers which are reaping rewards from lifting the veil off the cloak of secrecy in mining.
“We are struggling to see what these mineral resources have brought to the people of Zimbabwe.
“We need to shine a greater light in mining across the whole value chain, from prospecting to revenue, sharing information should be made available to citizens,” says Tafadzwa Chikumbu, TIZ.
Chikumbu says with three distinct groups, citizens, corporates and governments, expecting to benefit from mining it is crucial that these interests are ‘carefully managed.’
Communities expectations of employment, local content development, Corporate Social Responsibility and improved service delivery are sacrificed by corporates pursuit of profits and government quest for revenue said Chikumbu.
He said information on resource contracts between government and companies is unknown to the public due to secretive negotiations while communities lack the technical expertise to scrutinize contracts. and corruption open doors for illicit financial flows
“Government and citizens have a social contract that requires us to hold the government to account, companies should get a social license to operate in the community through consultations. Miners cannot just come and start mining.
“Contracts should be made available to the public, this requirement for the government to make information available for accountability purposes is a constitutional imperative under the principles of good governance.
“We need subsidiary laws to reinforce these constitutional provisions, we may not need to join the EITI but even advance domestication of the AMV, as long as we achieve the goal of transparency,” said Chikumbu.
The Africa Mining Vision (AMV) is a regional response to tackling the paradox of great mineral wealth existing side by side with pervasive poverty. The AMV vision is espoused as “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.”
EITI is considered one of the best practice frameworks that have been formulated to improve the domestic foundation for resource governance around the world.
It is a global standard for the good governance of oil gas and mineral resources, addressing governance issues the extractive sector from point of extraction to how revenue makes its way to government and its contribution to the economy.
Chikumbu says while the current Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, currently under finalization embraces the vision of the AMV, it deliberately skipped transparency and accountability clauses.
“We need not push for the EITI per se but advancing the adoption of transparency and accountability provisions which can also be borrowed from the AMV or expanded from our constitution.
“Fighting corruption is also essential because through it we end up losing revenue from the mining sector, and those benefitting want to keep the legal framework porous,” he said.
Extractive Transparency InitiativeProfessor Mthuli Ncube