By Nomalanga Ncube
The first ever Matabeleland Alternative Mining Indaba kicks off on 27 September 2016 in Bulawayo, the City of Kings. Ideally, the presence of mineral resources in a community should be a blessing and not a curse. Having rich mineral resources is an opportunity to improve the living standards of citizens for any resource rich country. Far from being a blessing, mineral resources have come as a curse to host communities in most cases. The same applies to Matebeleland region which is blessed with abundant mineral resources such as coal, gold, methane gas, tin and tungsten.
The region is home to some of the biggest mines in Zimbabwe such as How Mine owned by Metallion Gold , Blanket Mine owned by Canadian listed Caledonia and Hwange Colliery listed at the Zimbabwe stock exchange. Matebeleland region is prone to droughts and food shortages are quite common, industry has collapsed and mining is a typical enclave industry. As such the inaugural Matebeleland Alternative Mining Indaba (Mat AMI) which will be held at Holiday Inn, Bulawayo on 27 September 2016 comes at the opportune time. The theme for the Mat AMI is“Creating shared value in the mining sector through engagement with people, business and government”
Mat AMI is a social accountability forum, which puts citizen driven advocacy at the center of making mineral resources work for broader socio-economic development. Stakeholders to the Mat AMI include government agencies such as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), National Economic Empowerment and Indigenisation Board (NEEIB), Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) and local governments.
Mining impacted communities from Hwange, Gwanda, Filabusi, Bubi, Umzingwane, Matopo and Beitbridge will also participate at the Mat AMI including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), traditional chiefs, small scale miners associations, mining companies, individuals and the media. The organisers of the inaugural Mat AMI are the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC).
Among the objectives of the Mat AMI is the empowerment of mining impacted communities with information which is critical to hold government and mining companies accountable. Stakeholders will also have the opportunity to have an in depth appreciation of environmental management challenges related to mining and spaces for community participation during the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).
The role of local mining taxation, community share ownership trusts and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in promoting local socio-economic service delivery will also be explored. Community enterprise development leveraged on economic activities of mining companies, artisanal and small scale mining are some of the topical mineral resource governance issues that will be discussed at the Mat AMI. Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) which have been identified as a major threat to Africa’s development agenda by the African head of states will also be part of the agenda.
An action agenda will be developed to wrap up the Mat AMI and map the way forward for citizen driven advocacy to hold government and mining companies accountable on how mineral resources are managed and utilised to promote better living standards for all.The Mat AMI will feed into the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI 2016).The later will be held at Holiday Inn, Bulawayo on 28 and 29 September 2016 under the theme “Mining Sector Reforms: A call for Economic, Social and Environmental Justice.”