Project to nourish women & marginalised groups’ participation in the gemstone & granite value chains comes into being.


Compiled by Clarity Sibanda-Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA) and Action Aid-Zimbabwe have launched a five year project to promote women’s participation in the extractive sector. The project titled, “Nourishing Gemstone and Granite Sector Value Chain and Beneficiation,” will be implemented in Hurungwe,Karoi and Mutoko and is a build up to Fair, Green and Global 1 and 2 (FGG 1 and 2).  
The project which was launched yesterday in Zimbabwe’s capital seeks to increase community participation in black granite and gemstone value chains, with a particular focus on women. This is against the backdrop of systematic exclusion of communities, and women, in the black granite and gemstone value chains.

In his opening remarks Action Aid Zimbabwe Country Director, Mr. Joy Mabenge highlighted that the participation of marginalised groups especially women and the youth in trade and value chains will contribute to the realisation of a just and sustainable transition which will contribute to Zimbabwe’s path to development including Vision 2030, Sustainable Development Goals and a system change towards economic justice

“The five year journey AAZ and ZELA are embarking on with support from different stakeholders and partners will be an exciting one full of successes and lessons. We are alive to the fact that we are not the only ones in this kind of work and thus we do not have all the answers to the issues we currently seek to address through this project. However, we hope that we  will be able to make our mark and register notable achievements. We are also willing to learn as we go in order to attain our Project goals.

Zimbabwe in its journey towards attaining the objectives of Vision 2030 is being guided by the interventions such as the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025 (NDS1). (NDS1) is clear on the subject of the under exploration of the country’s minerals including the weak governance in the sector.

The initiatives by the Government of Zimbabwe present an  opportunity  to achieve our objectives in a complementary manner. The FGG 3 project comes at a perfect time when the government is implementing NDS 1 while Action Aid globally is reshaping the strategic implementation framework to focus on systems change for economic and climate justice as one of the major focus areas. This enables the organisations to contribute to the growth of the mining sector at the same time addressing inequality and poverty gaps while ensuring the participation of marginalised groups and communities in economic activities. We believe that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the search for social and economic justice particularly as we walk this journey together.Poor mineral resource governance is one of the major causes of the disconnect between mineral extraction and development causing economic instability, poor service delivery and poverty,” he added.

Action Aid-Zimbabwe Country Director, Joy Mabenge

 Honourable Edmund Mkaratigwa,the Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development who was represented by Honorable Davison Svuure highlighted that gemstones are rarely talked about, yet they have the potential to create jobs and wealth for Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe is blessed with many gemstones that include the emerald, quarts, agates, amethyst among others.  These gemstones are largely mined by artisanal and small-scale miners and there is very little information on the cutting and polishing plants in Zimbabwe. He also bemoaned illicit financial flows and smuggling in the gemstone sector.

“I came across an article on gemstone mining in Zimbabwe, which outlined that most of these semi-precious stones were being smuggled out of the country.  I think the problem lies with Executive policies and programs, which largely focus on multi-million investments in gold, platinum, diamonds and coal much to the detriment of other minerals which have the potential to transform our economy.    According to the MMCZ financial statement of 2020, the country marketed over 7,7 million carats of emeralds and other gemstones and received USD 23 thousand.  These are the gemstones that came through the official channels.  I am sure the country would have generated more revenues if all the gemstones had been harnessed through the formal system.

I hope through the FGG project, there will be greater awareness on the need to empower local communities, particularly women, the youth and the disabled to participate in mining of gemstones.”

While giving the historical background of the FGG Programme in Zimbabwe, achievements, challenges and the new twist, ZELA’s Joyce Machiri outlined the organisation’ several strategies that have been realised as a result of  Action Aid’ support and these have managed to bear positive outcomes. Communities especially community monitors’ capacities have been strengthened and some are now able to mobilise, organise, investigate rights violations and exert influence by demanding the realisation of Environmental, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (EESCR).

The public interest environmental law organisation has in some instances resorted to public interest litigation on behalf of poor and disadvantaged communities affected by the activities of the state and or business in the exploitation of natural resources especially when alternative dispute resolution mechanisms have failed. It is however, pleasing to note that in search of remedy, litigation work has sometimes managed to provide access to restorative justice for communities.

The 1st and 2nd FGG Projects were hinged on building community and citizen capacity and awareness to demand, defend and assert their economic, environmental, social, and cultural rights (EESCR) against the government and mining corporates’ actions and inactions in mining areas. This resulted in many civic society organisations (CSOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), and grassroots groups being legally registered and able to assert their own rights, demanding accountability, and respect of their rights by the government and corporates. Simultaneously, these groups have upscaled their own programming on extractives and natural resource governance. This is evidenced by an increase in number of CSOs and CBOs programming on extractives due to the actions of ActionAid Zimbabwe and its partner the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA). This thus offers sound grounding for further programming where gaps and opportunities have been identified.

Under the 1st and 2nd FGG, the organisations used the mineral resources governance approach (MRGA) and Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to capacitate Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to amplify the collective voices of the people so that they defend, assert, and promote human and women’s rights, promote state and corporate accountability and achieve tax justice which is going to be continued on the FGG 3 project.

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