Government’s apparent reluctance to uphold communities’ constitutional rights around extractive sector investments by ingraining them in mining legislation is breeding hostility between mining companies and locals, 263 Chat can report.
The Mines and Minerals Act is in its current form a colonial instrument to plunder resources with no regard for the rights and wellbeing of locals among whom the minerals would be mined Tsvingwe residents in Penhalonga told a Community Alliance for Human Settlement in Zimbabwe (CAHSZ) meeting on the constitution and devolution recently.
Delays in amending the powerful legislation which takes precedence over most but is subservient to the constitution to acknowledge and protect the rights of indigenous communities is only serving to prolong raging feuds with investors and soiling the country’s investment climate.
“The Mines and Minerals Act does not acknowledge the rights of communities and the Act is resultantly not in harmony with the constitution.
“The Act was made by colonialists over fifty years ago and had no reason to asset the rights of indigenous communities leading to the current acrimonious relations between mining companies and locals,” Tsvingwe Residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson Weston Makoni said.
Makoni whose community is an offshoot of Penhalonga, a mining community on the fringes of Metallon Gold’s Redwing Mine said mining companies should be compelled to negotiate and sign a social contract with locals as part of the country’s laws.
“No mine or investor should be allowed to work without a social contract. This would not have brought any controversy in Chiadzwa and even here in Penhalonga.
“All the bad publicity is a result of this gap in our laws and government can change all that,” he said.
Mutasa South legislator Regai Tsunga said these expectations were enshrined in the constitutional provisions of devolution.
“The devolution law is looking at all these issues but we also need to appreciate that these resources should also benefit others beyond the immediate community again in line with the supreme law of the land,” Tsunga said.
CAHSZ advocacy officer Francis Mukora whose organisation is facilitating the engagements in partnership with the ministry of justice nationally said his organisation was pushing to empower communities to actively participate in governance issues.
“We hope to connect citizens and communities to actively participate in sustainable development and enjoy equitable access to productive resources for their socio-economic resilience and self -sustenance,” Mukora said.
Zondai Mawoyo, a Tsvingwe resident for the past three decades, implored government officials to respect the constitution if their community is to have a change of fortune.
“As long as the constitution is not being followed, we will not have any progress… we will be just chasing the wind,” Mawoyo said.