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Shurugwi Hosts Alternative Mining Indaba

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Harare – More than 100 delegates are expected to attend this year’s first Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba (PAMI) which starts in Shurugwi, in Zimbabwe’s Midlands province, on Wednesday, say organisers.
The organisers, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), say the Shurugwi Mining Indaba is the first of two indabas set for this year, the second of which will be held in Manicaland, later in the year.
The 2014 Provincial Alternative Mining Indabas for Midlands and Manicaland will be held under the theme: “Creating Space for Community Voices on Mining”.
Inaugural provincial alternative mining indabas (PAMIs) in the two provinces were held in 2013 under the theme “Making Mining Responsive to Community Needs”. The 2013 theme called for attention on the environmental, economic, social and cultural rights of communities that are normally negated by mining companies and the government in the quest for profit at all cost, said a ZELA spokesman.
In Zimbabwe, mining is recognized as an important economic sector based on its contribution to both the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and export earning having contributed nearly 20% and 60% respectively in 2013. The Government of Zimbabwe’s 5-year Development Plan – the “Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation” (ZimAsset) – underpins mineral beneficiation as an important development cluster.
This prominent economic role ascribed to mining is, however, not matched by significant mineral revenue flows to the Treasury as well as benefits to ordinary Zimbabweans, especially communities that live adjacent to mining operations.
The government has since recognized the same resulting in the formulation of Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSTOs) under the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Programme.
These CSOTs have been established in mineral resource rich areas to bring about the much-needed development and ensure that communities undertake development projects of their choice in order to promote development and poverty alleviation in their areas.
Since 2011, CSOTs have been launched in Tongogora (by Unki Mine), Zvishavane (by Mimosa), and Marange-Zimunya, Gwanda, Bindura and Mhondoro-Ngezi areas.
In some areas where the Trusts have been established, developmental projects have been however slow and given the unbalanced power relations between the CSOT management and the community members, social accountability also remains very weak.
Consequently, communities are crying foul that they are being excluded in the management of resources that are meant for their benefit. Further, community rights are not being respected and are wantonly violated with little access to remedy.
Given this obtaining situation, the PAMIs, therefore, seek to promote active and meaningful participation by communities in natural resources governance, says ZELA.
“Despite the potential of the mining sector to contribute to economic development, the sector is presently causing untold suffering to the communities living adjacent to mining operations,” said Veronica Zano, a legal officer with ZELA who is the co-ordinator of the PAMIs.
“Some of the problems affecting mining communities include issues of forced evictions and relocations of communities from their traditional lands without free and prior informed consent and lack of fair and adequate compensation in order to pave way for mining activities,” she said.

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