MUTARE– Zimbabwe is failing to derive full value from the extractive industry due to an archaic law which fails to recognise community beneficiation, civil society leaders have said.
This marginalisation of important stakeholders has resulted in a plethora of corrupt activities in the sector which has potential to improve the nation’s economic woes, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association claims.
Speaking at capacity building indaba for civil society organisations to enhance government engagement with other multi stakeholders in the industry, ZELA Director Mutuso Dhliwayo said outdated policies need to be overhauled.
Dhliwayo said such workshop engagements were there to provide an alternative space for the sidelined stakeholders who had a right to have their voices heard.
“The Mines and Mineral Act does not recognise other stakeholders in the extractive industry. It is outdated because there is a marginalisation of other critical stakeholders which has instigated a movement against this disengagement to give other stakeholders a voice of their own.
“This arrangement calls for stakeholders to have a say in the extractive industry but based on principles which can lead to constructive dialogue between government and all other important players,” he said.
Chida Mudadi of Centre for Research Development (CRD) said government was still perpetuating colonial systems by exporting raw and unprocessed minerals to European nations at the expense of host nations.
“If one looks at history Zimbabwe in essence is still following the Berlin Conference agreement to expropriate natural, raw and unprocessed minerals to the west for processing without adding value to extracted minerals in the country,” said Mudadi.
Director of Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) Farai Maguwu said this situation led to resource rich communities which bear the brunt of all extractive activities in their communities.
Maguwu said because of government complicit stance these communities end up bearing the cost which include inhuman living conditions they are forced to leave through after they are relocated.
“The down turn of mining in developing countries is that we have resource rich communities which are the poorest communities particularly in developing countries. Not only do these communities bear the cost of mining activities, they drink the contaminated water, breath the polluted air.
“In all this government is involved in the expropriation of our resources from our communities,” he said.
He said government has left citizens disenfranchised from activities which by right should cascade down to benefit their local communities. He said coupled with laws such as the Communal Lands Act (1982) and Land Husbandry Act (1951) were pushing out communities from benefiting from mining activities.
“We should struggle to reverse that colonial curse of land ownership where the land belongs to the president because of the continuation of oppressive policies which replaced colonial policies.
“Government replaced the Land Husbandry Act of (1951) and replaced it with the Communal Lands Act which gave power to the president over the land. Even where you are staying the law says that minerals which are one meter below where you stay belongs to the president,” he said.
The indaba was jointly organized by ZELA, CNRG and the European Union to enhance capacities of civic society organisations to actively participate in the extractive industry.