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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Transparency and accountability in the extractive sector vital in unlocking economic benefit for all
    Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
    March 04, 2012

    On the occasion of Africa Environment Day, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) wishes to call upon government and companies to be transparent and accountable in the governance of natural resources. Good governance of Zimbabwe's natural resources ensures that current and future generations benefit from the rich natural resources in the country. An important tenet of good governance is transparency and accountability.

    Zimbabwe is rich in natural resources, particularly mineral resources. Yet, despite this wealth of mineral resources, the country remains poor and is yet to translate its mineral resource base into socio-economic development. One of the reasons for this is the opacity in the mining sector. The mining sector has largely been free from public scrutiny due to entrenched secrecy in the sector. A clear example is that of the Marange diamond fields. Despite being hailed as one of the largest finds of alluvial diamonds in the last decade, the Marange diamond fields have been an arena of secrecy and contestation. There has been limited public disclosure on the issuance of mining claims, the contracting process and the distribution of revenues generated from diamond mining. The collapse of Canadile Miners and the subsequent arrest of the Directors on allegations of misrepresentation of facts on the company's capacity to invest in diamond mining in Marange clearly points to the opacity in Marange. The other companies mining in Marange, Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments do not have clear ownership structures known to the public. In presenting his 2012 Budget, the Minister of Finance reiterated the need for transparency in the diamond mining sector if the revenues generated thereof are to benefit the national economy.

    The situation in Marange sticks out when the plight of the communities is taken into account. A total of 4000 families face relocation to Arda Transau. The 700 families that have been relocated already are yet to receive compensation and have had their economic livelihood activities disrupted. The relocation process has also been handled with very little communication with the households concerned leading to rights violations and community despondency. This means there was no free, prior informed consultation in the relocation process. The call for improved 'openness' in the governance of Zimbabwe's mineral resources is not limited to the diamond sector but is a call that encompasses all minerals including platinum, gold, chrome and coal among others. The need for transparency and accountability is more critical in light of the implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. There is need for to institutionalise transparency in the community trusts that are being established so as to ensure that benefits accrue to the local community members. In the absence of transparency and accountability, indigenisation and economic empowerment may become a cover for looting by elites.

    ZELA notes that the government is beginning to take tentative steps towards improving transparency and accountability as a response to Civil Society Organisations initiatives like the Publish What You Pay Zimbabwe Chapter. The launch of the Zimbabwe Mineral Revenue Transparency Initiative (ZMRTI) represents a critical step in attempts to ensure transparency in mineral revenues. Government has also strongly signalled its intention to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Transparency and accountability is being reflected in ongoing and proposed reforms. The first draft constitution from the on going constitutional reform process has got principles of good governance, which include transparency and accountability. The hope is that these principles on transparency and accountability will cascade to other laws and polices that have implications on natural resource governance. The recent discussions on the formulation of the Diamond Policy and work towards crafting a Diamond Bill and reforming the Mines and Minerals Act also present opportunities to institutionalise transparency and accountability not as an exception but as the standard in mining development in Zimbabwe. As an example, one of the key objectives of the draft Diamond Policy is 'to account for every diamond mined in Zimbabwe to enhance transparency and ensure the sector achieves its potential'. In addition, Zimbabwe remains a member of the Kimberly Process.

    ZELA calls on the government to:

    • Speedily operationalise the work of the ZMRTI
    • Join the EITI
    • Fully comply with the minimum requirements of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme especially the Administrative Decision that was adopted on the 1st of November 2011 in Kinshasa.
    • Publish the contracts and mining revenue from diamonds and other minerals
    • Exercise transparency in constitution of community trusts as part of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act

    The organisation also calls on mining companies to:

    • Publish the payments they make to government ensure the recognition of community rights in their operations

    Visit the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association fact sheet

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