By Joyce Nyamukunda Machiri, Zimbabwe PWYP
COVID-19 crisis that has hit Zimbabwe and the global village has made us to
realize the need and importance of transparency and accountability in
management of our mineral resources for improved service delivery. Walking
round Zimbabwe’s mining communities, there is very little to show for the
minerals being extracted in those localities. Nationally, the economy is
struggling. Gold, diamonds, platinum, chrome, granite and other minerals are
being extracted every day. One wonders what is happening to the revenue
generated from these minerals. The mining sector is not fulfilling its
potential and expectations in terms of contributing towards economic
development and improved service delivery.
year has passed since Zimbabwe was hit by Cyclone Idai but the effects are
still being felt by many. The storm, subsequent flooding and landslides affected
270,000 people and left 340 people dead and many others missing (read here).
Currently the nation is faced with the
Corona virus and it is evident that there
are no resources to fight this pandemic
. This is clear evidence of poor linkages between mining revenue and service
delivery. Output growth in the mining sector, judging by government’s plans, is
expected to reach US$12 billion annually by 2023. Human Development Indicators
(HDIs) are pointing in the opposite direction. Zimbabwe’s HDI value for 2018 is
0.563— which put the country in the medium human development category—positioning
it at 150 out of 189 countries and territories.
Most suburbs have no water, household waste collection is not done on a
frequent basis. A lot of man-made garbage dumps can be seen around and this itself
breeds pandemics such as cholera.
the country was hit by COVID-19, the health sector had already deteriorated
with no signs of revival. Doctors have been striking several times because of
poor remuneration, lack of equipment and medicines.
As Publish What You Pay Zimbabwe (PWYP) we are concerned about how revenue from
the mineral resources is being used. There is no transparency and no one to
account for the mineral revenue use. All we hear is how the mining sector is
expected to revive the economy. First it was the Zimbabwe Agenda for
Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET), now we have the 12
billion mobilisation strategy. There is no further information on how the
mobilized funds have been used and how the current one is going to be used.
being generated has failed to deliver services such as the health sector, the
treasury has no reserves to react and address disasters such as the Cyclone
idai and the COVID-19 pandemic. We mine and sell gold which is used by other
countries as reserves, as a nation do we have our own gold reserves which help
us in such times as this? Mukasiri Sibanda says, “the
donation made by the Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, has given an adrenaline shot
to government’s efforts to control the scourge of coronavirus, where is the
money from our resources going? The
pandemic is here with us now, procurement of resources to use in the health
sector is ongoing. What measures are there to ensure transparency in such
processes? How are we working to ensure that prices are not inflated and that
there is no corruption in the process? The sector is shrouded with secrecy
which in itself costs the nation of the much needed resources.
Idai should have been a learning point for Zimbabwe to get ready and prepare
for natural disasters such as these. How are we also being accountable on the
aid coming from both internal and external aid being provided to try and contain
COVID-19? Cyclone Idai had elements of
corruption and diversion of donations to personal use.
Can government be transparent and accountable in their response to the COVID-19
pandemic and in the use of mineral revenue for service delivery? Excitement was
brought when the 2019 budget statement was announced. The Minister of Finance
mentioned that Zimbabwe is considering joining Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI) as expressed in the 2019 Budget Statement.
his statement the Minister of Finance mentioned that; “In order to move along
with international best practices on achieving transparency in management of
natural resources, Government would want to be a member of the EITI as soon as
possible. Membership is critical in order for the country to benefit from
strengthened public and corporate governance, promote understanding of natural
resource management, and provide the data that guide reforms for greater
transparency and accountability in the extractives sector”. Early this year, the excitement was destroyed when
newspaper covered a story that government is not keen to join EITI.
light of this COVID-19 crisis, it is important for Zimbabwe to join EITI as
this will ensure revenue from the minerals is prioritized in economic
development and service delivery. The 2020 budget speaks about engagement with
the international community. It is important that government also urgently
recommits to join EITI and give clear milestone for joining EITI.