Unlocking critical minerals’ potential towards a just transition for community development


04 August 2023

Compiled by Tafadzwa Mvududu

In the heart of Zimbabwe’s mining region lies the Runde District, home to vast mineral reserves ranging from gold to platinum. And while these resources hold great promise for the country’s economic development, they have also been a source of conflict between mining companies, local communities, and government entities.
To address these issues, the Runde District Alternative Mining Indaba (DAMI) and the Great Dyke Provincial Mining Indaba (PAMI) were recently facilitated by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). The events brought together different stakeholders, including mining companies, the Runde District Development Coordinator (DDC), and community members, to discuss the challenges facing the mining sector and seek solutions that benefit all parties involved.
The Alternative Mining Initiative ran under the theme Unlocking Critical Mineral Potential towards a Just Transition for Community Development.” One of the main objectives of the indaba was to promote a more inclusive and participatory approach to mining governance in Zimbabwe. In recent years, many local communities have complained that mining companies have ignored their concerns and have not adequately compensated them. At the same time, companies have argued that they have been unfairly targeted by communities and have faced numerous regulatory hurdles that hinder their operations.
Through the DAMI and PAMI events, stakeholders were able to engage in productive discussions and identify areas of common ground. For example, there was broad agreement that more needs to be done to ensure that mining companies are held accountable for their environmental impacts and that they provide adequate compensation to affected communities.
Monica Shonhiwa, one of the community members who attended the Runde District Alternative Indaba, was happy that the government and civil society organizations like ZELA, ZIMCODD, and ZCC are making efforts and promoting dialogue between mining companies, the government, and the community.
“I am excited that I attended this indaba. Our communities, especially those in the Mhondongori area, are being affected by chrome mining companies that leave pits open after mining operations, putting our children and livestock at risk. So having a dialogue with these miners is a positive development for us. I am glad they agreed to close their pits and to do responsible mining”, Said Monica Shonhiwa.
Another key issue that was discussed was the need for greater transparency in the mining sector. Many participants argued that there is a lack of information available to the public about the activities of mining companies and the government agencies responsible for regulating them. As a result, it is difficult for communities to hold these entities accountable for their actions, which also affects the community in terms of corporate responsibility.
Speaking during the Great Dyke PAMI, Reverend Makava from Shurugwi said there is a need for mining companies to be transparent when it comes to their mining activities. He expressed his disappointment when it comes to the lack of information, especially for the public.
“I think there is a need for these mining companies to be transparent, especially the ones in Shurugwi. Most companies come under the disguise of exploring while they are actually mining, and as a result, they don’t employ members of the community. So this does not benefit Shurugwi communities in any way. The mining companies must be transparent so that, as members of the community, we know how much they are taking from our community and how much they are willing to give back as part of social corporate responsibility. The government should address this issue”, Said Rev. Makava.
The indabas also provided an opportunity for the government to present their efforts to promote sustainable and responsible mining practices. Mr. Chinhara, representing Zvishavane DDC, presented the success that has been achieved so far by the Devolution program in mining communities around Zvishavane.
Speaking at the event, he said, “The central government’s commitment to devolving resources for development is evident through the Devolution Funds. By releasing funds to councils for development projects, our mining towns and communities are experiencing the positive impact of these investments”. Said Mr. Chinhara.
Overall, the Runde District Alternative Mining Indaba and the Great Dyke Provincial Mining Indaba were important events that brought together stakeholders from across the mining sector to engage in constructive dialogue. By promoting greater transparency, accountability, and inclusivity, these events help to build trust between mining companies, local communities, and government entities. Declarations were made at the event, and these will be discussed at the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba.

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