By Lungelo Ndhlovu
There is growing mistrust and suspicion between mining companies and local communities across Zimbabwe, which emanates from lack of information and transparency on contract disclosures, mining stakeholders have said.
According to the Transparency International of Zimbabwe (TIZ), Zimbabwe’s extractive sector is shrouded in secrecy, which disadvantages communities who lived around mining concerns.
Speaking at a Mining Indaba held recently in Bulawayo last week Thursday, Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Sustainability Africa, Rodney Ndamba, said contract disclosures by companies that were licensed to carry out mining activities in communities is a critical requirement before extracting minerals started.
“Disclosing contracts brings benefits to all stakeholders, as citizens are able to access the information with regards to the mining that happening in their communities,” he said.
“As owners of mineral resources, citizens have a right to understand the terms of the extraction. When contracts remain in secret, citizens and oversight agencies can not properly monitor the implementation of transactions, placing the country at a greater risk of corruption.”
The goal of the Mining Indaba was to empower citizens, in particular communities in mining areas to hold the government to account over the responsible stewardship of natural resources and reduce corruption risks in the extractive sector.
One registered artisanal miner from Zvishavane, Caroline Mahanangandi, also Director of Mberengwa Mining Company and Silver River Mining Private Limited, claimed local communities also fuelled corruption in the mining sector by engaging Chinese investors to carry out illegal mining activities in the communities.
“At one time, when I was working with the Chinese, doing their permits, I can tell you the Chinese are very afraid of the police. It’s us locals who must tell the truth. It is us local people who will be in front engaging in fraudulent and corrupt ways of doing things. Because the Chinese cannot talk to the police, they don’t want to hear about the police but locals teach them how to bribe police and do underhand dealings,” she alleged.
Mahanangandi indicated that it was difficult to have transparency in the mining sector when both companies, beneficiaries and locals were corrupt.
“How can you have transparency when we are not transparent ourselves? Transparency begins with us. If we want Zimbabwe to lead by example and to stay faithful we must be principled because if we are not doing things in a transparent way, we are cheaters. Most Zimbabweans, lead by blaming, we want to blame each other but what role are you playing to be transparent,” she quizzed.
The artisanal miner also commended the newly gazetted Freedom of Information law, saying it promoted transparency and accountability, which were values needed in the mining sector.
“Communities can use the law to demand contract disclosures from the mining companies,” she said.