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Natural resources in Zimbabwe

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While Zimbabwe is a mineral rich country, the benefits of owning and harnessing these natural resources are yet to be seen. The economy is predicted to recover, and attain a 7% growth rate at the end of the financial year. A significant contributing factor to this growth will be an increase in mining activities.

It is with this in mind, that the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is hosting a series of civil society dialogues on Transparency and Accountability in the Extractive And Natural Resources Sector with a specific focus on mining activities in Zimbabwe. Having observed that there has been limited capacity in the actions of civil society to demand accountability and transparency in the mining sector, ZELA hopes to create a platform for civil society organizations to openly discuss and adopt strategies that can be used to promote and advocate for transparency and accountability in the mining sector. The workshop objectives for the second meeting were, among others: to address the administrative issues hindering the access to information regarding mining operations in the country; capacity building and the creation of a platform to engage the government as well a s mining companies.

Several NGOs were invited to present their thoughts on the subject, including the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines, Transparency International Zimbabwe, the Centre for Environmental Accountability (CENAC) and the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO).

ZELA also used the opportunity to launch the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). EITI was launched globally in 2007 with the objective of promoting transparent reporting by governments of aggregate revenues derived from mineral resources, oil, and gas extraction and publication of payments made by mining companies to governments. In those countries where it is being implemented, EITI is seen as a real attempt to deal the ‘resources curse’ that is plaguing many mineral rich African countries including Nigeria, Sudan and the Democratic republic of Congo. The EITI is a voluntary standard that can be joined by governments and companies. Currently, countries that are compliant with EITI standards are Azerbaijan and Liberia; candidate countries include Afghanistan, Albania, Cameroon, Mongolia, Nigeria, Iraq, and Tanzania.

Speaking on behalf of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mine Dr Hokonya said that Transparency in the mining industry was welcome, and in fact the mining community was willing to implement a voluntary reporting system. He pointed out the difficulties in gathering accurate information from mining companies and the government about mining operations. He also noted that as mining was a destructive industry with a limited lifespan, it was necessary for mining companies to have extensive corporate social responsibility programmes, whose benefits would extend beyond the lifespan of the mine.

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