The curtain to the Midlands Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba (PAMI) came down in Shurugwi on Thursday, with more than a hundred participants taking part in the two-day workshop. A similar meeting is scheduled for Manicaland on 24 and 25 June 2015.
Participants were drawn from civil society and faith organisations, local authorities and traditional leaders, members of parliament and Government departments, as well as mining companies, artisanal and small scale miners, and the media.
Speakers, notably Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Zela Chairman Professor Tumai Murombo and Shurugwi South legislator Tapiwa Matangaidze underscored the need to make it mandatory for investors in the mining industry to be responsive to the needs of the community, as opposed to ‘providing assistance when they so felt necessary.’
Said Professor Murombo, who is also the Director of the Mandela Institute in the Wits School of Law: “Our legislation should make it mandatory for corporates to plough back into the community, not only look at making profit. It is also important to plan ahead, like the costs involved in repairing the environment once mineral activities cease. It normally becomes hard for companies to fork out money when they had not planned, as opposed to having the programs on their drawing boards.
Echoing his sentiments, Matangaidze said he was happy that a new mining law was set for Parliament in the next few week, as the existing one had become ‘archaic.’
“It was really important for us to have a feel of what communities are experiencing, as we go to Parliament soon to debate the new Mines and Mineral Act. The November 1961 law was no longer serving its purpose. We will indeed take up their concerns to the august house.”
Other topics that were discussed included the role of Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) in resource rich communities, opportunities and challenges in enhancing social service delivery issues from natural resources, and some perspectives of funding partners on engagement.
The Ministry of Mines, ZELA, Environmental Management Authority (EMA), ZHRC, among other organisations, were heavily involved in the annual showcase, with mining conglomerates Unki Mines, Mimosa Mines, as well as Murowa Diamonds, also sharing experiences on community engagement and promotion of local development initiatives.
Drawing up communities from Zvishavane, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Mazvihwa, Mberengwa and Shurugwi, the indaba ran on the theme, “Creating shared value in mineral sector through engagement with people, business, and Government.”
The PAMIs offer an important trajectory towards the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba, another annual event hosted by ZELA, meant to allow national dialogue on various mining and related issues.