Community Youth Development Trust on 19 October 2018 convened an all stakeholders meeting in Gwanda to deliberate on the issues affecting the mining sector. The stakeholders included the Mayor of Gwanda, Councillors, Ministry of Mines, CSOs, Youths in mining, resident’s association, vendors, churches among others. CYDT note with sadness that as much as the organisation is clamouring for young people in the mining sector to formalise their activities, this seems like a pipe dream as 95 % of mining land in Matabeleland South is now under Exclusive Prospective Orders (EPOs). This licence protects one from competing with other interested parties. This really came as a surprise to the stakeholders who were in attendance as it dawned on them that only 5% of land is left for all and sundry to get mining claims hence all this conflict which has left 1 young miner dead while a number are still nursing wounds sustained.
The meeting came up with four key recommendations which stakeholders agreed would address the challenges and corruption affecting the sector and these were Policy and legal frameworks review, Full implementation of Devolution of Power, Conflict and Peacebuilding.
Policy and legal frameworks review
It was noted that the Mining Act is currently silent on the issue of mine claims yet these have proven to be the major sources of conflict and corruption. Recommendations were that the law should be reviewed so as to clearly address the issue of multi-ownership of claims. It was also recommended that there should be harmonisation of all pieces of legislation that relate to mining including such legislations that govern Environmental Management Agency and Police. This will help address corruption and the issue of arresting powers as there have been noted conflicts on this thereby creating avenues for corruption. There is no clarity on who is arresting the small scale miners as police might decide to pounce on the anytime, yet EMA may also decide otherwise.
It was also raised that formalisation of artisanal mining was expensive and recommendations it should be revised downwards to allow small scale miners acquire mining licenses as they cannot raise the required 400 for the whole process – 200 being for acquiring prospecting licence and also 200 for registration. Supporting the above recommendations, stakeholders noted that generally miners who are largely young people lacked knowledge on these pieces of legislations. Capacity building of young miners was recommended so as to empower them to understand these pieces of legislation, their rights and how to defend and fight against corruption in the sector. Relating to capacity building was the recommendation that Environmental Impact Assessment protocols should be translated into local languages and these should be locally and readily available.
Full Implementation of Devolution of Power
Stakeholders highlighted that there was a link between centralisation of power and corruption. Recommendations were that government should speed up the process of Devolution of power through creating clear and people centred frameworks that empower people to monitor and benefit from local resources. It was highlighted that a devolved system will promote local management of resources and reduce the corruption such as multiple ownership of mine claims by political and business elite and facilitate monitoring and evaluation of how local communities benefit from local resources. As a reference to the Vova mine violence, stakeholders highlighted that in a devolved system, it would have been easier to arrest perpetrators of violence and bring them before the courts compared to a centralised system which harbours corruption.
Conflict and Peace Building
Based on the Vova mine case and the past violence reports in the sector, it was recommended that national institutions such as the National Peace and Recommission as well as the Human Rights Commission should play a key role in the investigation of these issues and provide informative guidelines on how these issues should be addressed. There were recommendations that the NPRC should lead the formation of local or community based Peace Committees whose role should include educating and empowering miners on the importance of peace and how they can avoid being used by politicians and business elites, this will be done in partnership with the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance.
Although these were the major outcomes of the meeting, there were other general recommendations targeted at the Local Authorities regarding improving service delivery such as housing. Stakeholders highlighted that allocation of housing remains a corrupt process, benefiting the powerful and therefore Local Authorities should revisit their policy and systems so as to curb corruption. The Mayor raised concern on bad governance practice which has then created room for manifestation of corruption across all sectors. He was of the option that Devolution of power can help minimise corruption thus within local governance.
Source: Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT)