Mining Communities are known to be resource rich and
ordinarily there are expected to be economically developed. Of late, this has
not been the case as stagnancy and sometimes this is due to political bickering
when politicians jostle to benefit from mineral resources. Living in one’s
community sometimes makes one oblivious of what other communities are facing.
An attendance to indabas like the just ended Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) in
Capetown South Africa gave me a clear picture of what is happening in mining some
mining communities across Africa.
The Indaba ran from 9
to 11 May 2022 under the Theme: A Just energy transition for sustainable
mining Communities in an era of the climate crisis. For the first time
it was attended by more than 30 countries an indication that its growing bigger
and stronger. To add icing on the cake,
the Indaba became a teenager as it marked its 13 years since its formation.
Having been in existence, AMI has seen it all and has made strides in changing
the livelihoods of mining communities.
Nuggets From Alternative Mining Indaba.
After attending a series of sessions during the AMI, there
are key observations that were realized during deliberations. Mining in its
nature is destructive especially to the land. These impacts were generally
acknowledged by communities’ representatives who related how they have been
affected by mining activities. In terms of capacity to solve issues, it can be
said that various methods have been used with mixed fortunes. In Kenya for
example, others have been persecuted. As for Zimbabwe, generally we are now at a
better footing compared to some mineral rich countries. We have been able to
reach a stage whereby we can sit and negotiate with mining companies for the good
of our communities and country at large. Many thanks to ZELA for capacitating
mining communities to be able to negotiate on their own.
In terms of community beneficiation from their mineral
resources as enunciated by the African Mining Vision (AMV), most communities
are still far from benefiting in a way that is sustainable in nature. Host
communities need to benefit from their minerals. It is a struggle that can be
achieved if laws are crafted such that beneficiation becomes mandatory as
opposed to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) which is optional and
Where mineral resources are found, Environmental Human Rights
Defenders (EHRDs) face challenges of victimization and intimidation from some
of mining companies and government officials. Cases of disappearance and death
has been recorded bearing testimony that there are some unruly elements bent on
frustrating the work of EHRDs. However, it was recommended that governments and
mining companies have a duty to protect, respect and offer remedies to those
whose rights are infringed. This is according to the United Nations Guiding
Principles (UNGP) on responsible mining.
Unfair labor practices continue to hog the limelight as some
mining companies are still treating employees unfairly. Cases of safety and
health at workplaces were recorded especially in the artisanal small-scale
miners (makorokoza or Zama zamas). Issues of transparency and accountability in
extractives sector plays a critical role in shaping mining communities. Some
companies and investors are having their contracts in secrecy. Not much is
disclosed from the contracts and in some instances the Parliament is disabled
in playing its oversight role. This on its own is leading to illicit financial
flows (IFFs). In 2021 AMI deliberations, it was noted that, ”
… Africa is losing $40 billion annually through IFFs from extractive sector
As mining-affected communities, it was resolved that an
ecological and development agenda be set as we continue calling for inclusion,
particularly, in current conversations related to a just energy transition. The
agenda will be guided by the principle of “Leaving no one behind”, underpinned
by a feminist lens.
There is need to craft an Energy Charter that considers
unpaid domestic care work borne by women and the youth who constitute a large
share of the bottom stratum.
Taking into cognizance that the existing policies were not
prepared to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic which has further deepened
inequalities. As a way of reducing inequality, there is need to seize the
opportunity presented by the pandemic to interrogate whether these policies are
reducing inequality and in what way.
There is also need
for policy reviews to establish if at all the existing labor and mining
policies benefit workers particularly women, the youth and other vulnerable
The government needs to exude a political will to implement
existing policies. It was resolved that CSOs need to tighten loopholes as they
intensify their advocacy to fight social injustice, illicit financial flows,
inequality, climate change and of course set the agenda for a just energy
transition. Ensuring there is proactive and meaningful participation at all
To safeguard new technologies and intellectual property
developed in the continent. As CSOs, there is need to identify community
champions on the ground and enhance their capacity on legal issues and
alternative justice systems and to support them to be able to meaningfully
participate in Environmental Impact Assessment processes and invoke all the
legal frameworks at their disposal for litigation.
Finally, it was resolved that AMI be an inclusive space for
all including people with disabilities.