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Mukasiri Sibanda's Blog

articles on mineral resource governance

Stakeholder voices: Review of Mineral Rich Tongogara RDC’s Strategic Plan

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Stakeholders attending Tongogara RDC’s strategic planning review meeting

On 23 and 24 November 2017, Tongogara Rural District Council (TRDC) held a multi-stakeholder workshop to review its 5-year strategic plan (2015-2019) at Fair Mile hotel in Gweru. The objectives of the review process were to take social stock of progress- achievements and challenges, to adapt strategies in response to the ever-changing environment and to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals in council programmes. In line with its thrust to ensure that mineral resources are managed to deliver quality local essential services, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) provided both technical and financial resources for reviewing TRDC’s strategic plan. Stakeholders (42 people) who participated during the review of the strategic plan included government ministries, Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust, Civil Society Organisations, councillors, community representatives and TRDC secretariat.

Find below stakeholder voices;

Tongogara is a mineral resource rich district. We are blessed with significant platinum, gold and chrome deposits. The potential to deliver quality local social services is there if mining companies pay their fair share of taxes to finance local development activities” B Dube, Executive Officer (EO), social service delivery, TRDC .

“This strategic review planning meeting has been an eye opener. I had no idea that the projects being implemented by Tongogara RDC are a result of a long-term plan. Now that we are aware that there are deliverables and targets to be met, it is easier monitor and hold accountable Tongogara RDC” Traditional Chief Nhema

“Women’s needs are being prioritised in local delivery of social services. In 2014, we appealed for maternity wards.  A sizeable number of women were giving birth at home. Progress has been recorded, several maternity wards were constructed” Elen Zinyuke, women representative

“It is sad that mining companies are not participating at this strategic planning review meeting. The corporate social investments they undertake should complement what Tongogara RDC is doing.  Local stakeholders participate in Anglo-American owned Unki Mine’s local stakeholder engagement platform, yet Unki mine does not participate in council driven stakeholder consultations” local stakeholder

“The strategic planning review meeting was an opportunity to mainstream 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as prioritised by central government, in Tongogara RDC’s development programmes” Felix Mukosera, local government expert

“Tongogara RDC’s social safety nets are now prioritising the girl child. The bursary scheme and planned campaign to end child marriages will help to promote the realisation of the girl child’s rights.” Social service delivery expert

“I am happy that Tongogara TRDC is consulting disabled people during formulation and implementation of  the council’s development plans. The challenge is that we are not seeing progress in some areas  like income generation projects” Tawanda Muchokoto of Shurugwi Association of People with Disability

“We need government to approve our bylaws on environment and natural resource management to better manage most of the environmental challenges we are facing in Tongogara RDC” Mubaiwa, Executive Officer, environment management, Tongogara RDC. ZELA supported TRDC with public consultations and drafting of the bylaws on environment and natural resources.

“Whilst several local governments have a challenge on timeous production of audited financial statements, I am happy to tell you that Tongogara RDC’s audited financial statements are up-to-date” Treasurer, Tongogara RDC.

“We welcome Tongogara RDC’s programme of auditing council owned schools to promote better handling of local public resources in line with Finance and Administration of Schools Circular 6 of 1994. However, council auditors should work closely with Ministry of Education’s auditors to avoid duplication and to promote better enforcement the recommendations.”

“Synergies between Tongogara Community Share Ownership’s developed plans and Tongogara RDC’s development agenda are critical enablers of improved local service delivery” Mukasiri Sibanda, Economic Governance Officer with Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association.

To conclude, it must be noted that Section 13 (2) of Constitution provides for community participation in  the formulation and implementation of development plans that affect them. ZELA will work with Tongogara RDC to ensure that communities are aware  of and are able to understand council’s development targets. Such a process will enable better community participation during local budget public consultations, ensuring that resources are effectively allocated to achieve set targets as per the development plan. Prior to the review, Tongogara RDC had carried out a stakeholder needs assessment to ensure that the review of the development plan is aligned with community priorities.

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My vote is now up for grabs

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In the past elections, consistently, I have been voting for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It was an easy one for me because of my deep-seated hatred for Mugabe and ZANU PF. They turned the Zimbabwe dream into a prosaic one and then to continual nightmare. It was a tough choice to remain in Zimbabwe at a time when millions were forced to migrate to South Africa.

The economic hardships and political strife was like the “looming sword of Damocles.”  An impending catastrophe. History repeats itself, doesn’t it.  Between 1815 and 1840, Shaka the Zulu King sponsored Mfecane, a period of widespread ruination, which led to involuntary displacement of people from South Africa to other Southern African countries. Zimbabwe included.

Although I wanted my voice to count for change during elections, my premonitions always came to fruition. Mugabe and ZANU PF had their way of discounting the votes in a manner that gave them the leverage to disadvantage “the people’s choice.” How ironic, “the people’s choice” a mantra that ZANU PF used repeatedly during elections since 1980.

Now Mugabe is gone. My voice is quivering. Is he truly gone? During my trip in Gautrain to Pretoria on Wednesday, 22 November 2017, upon learning that I was Zimbabwean, the people I was seated with had just one question. Mugabe is gone but ZANU PF is a system that is still intact. In fact, Mnangagwa who is taking over from Mugabe was a pivotal figure in Zimbabwe’s ruination. So, they argued. Nothing will change.

This did nothing at all to dent my excitement triggered by Mugabe’s sudden and unexpected departure from the “throne.” Without Mugabe, Zimbabweans can afford to dream.  Certainly, it is comforting to know now that Grace Mugabe’s assertion that Mugabe will rule from the grave was out of foolish boldness. At the time when Grace made the remark, Mugabe appeared immortal.

Accordingly, my response to my sceptical colleagues was moulded by solid hope. From the bible, I quoted the story of Saul, who wantonly persecuted Christians. Saul had his Damascene moment. Saul was transformed to Paul, a man who energised the Christian movement. Likewise, this story shapes the new-found hope that many Zimbabweans have about Mnangagwa’s leadership. It is early days though.  We should pray with “one eye open.” Our optimism should not translate to a blank cheque for Mnangagwa.

It is important that I make this bold declaration, my vote is now up for grabs. It is no longer guarantee to the opposition.  If ZANU PF can reform itself and deliver the change that people want to see, the opposition should be scared. The first warning shots have been fired. It was hard to think ZANU PF can survive without Mugabe, he looked like the glue that bind the party.

 ZANU PF is moving on from Mugabe. I told a colleague, is it possible to pronounce MDC in one piece without Tsvangirayi. As I write Tsvangirayi’s name, I couldn’t resist a smile. He will always be my hero. The man kept alive the Zimbabwean dream against all odds. It is a pity that his health is falling. MDC must find its way and survive without Tsvangirayi.

Historic and histrionic developments in Zimbabwe, six things worthy noting

Free Zimbabwe

“As we take back the country, we must also take back the narrative. There seem to be more non-Zimbabwean Zimbabwean experts than there are Zimbabwean voices in the media. Zimbabweanists are welcome, but Zimbabwean voices are urgent. Write. Debate. Speak out.” Petina Gappah, writer and international lawyer, comments made on twitter.  This great piece of advice inspired me to add my voice to historic and histrionic events taking place in the Great Zimbabwe which had been ruined by Mugabe. Here are six things worthy noting;

Historic and histrionic developments

For 37 years, Mugabe had Zimbabwe in the palm of his hands. At 93, it seems as if Mugabe was not going to slowdown. He defied age. At one point, Mugabe spokesperson alleged Mugabe does not sleep during meetings, he simply closes his eyes to shy away from intense light. Because of Mugabe’s incessant trips to Singapore for medical check-ups, with each trip, public speculation of his deteriorating health was ballooned. Upon his return, people’s hopes of nature having its own way were always dashed.

Men are mortals, Mugabe appeared to be different. Suddenly, within a space of a week, Mugabe’s intertwined future with that of Zimbabwe was severed by the army. A historic development indeed. However, we never thought it would be theatrical, histrionic. The army, engineers of the 2008 bloody presidential election rerun that extended Mugabe’s grip, this time around, their role was inversely proportional, ending Mugabe’s rule in a bloodless manner. In the process giving the previously cheated Zimbabweans, a therapeutic opportunity, to freely march in town, to celebrate the dawn of a new era, freedom tastes good always. Never mind that it was served on a plate of a sick economy.

Substance over form

Whilst legal experts and paralegals were busy exploring constitutional ways in which Mugabe could be legitimately removed from power, a simple accounting rule could not be outdone, substance over form. Although legally, Mugabe is still the President of Zimbabwe, under house arrest, with his close cabinet ministers arrested or at run, the substance of the matter is that Mugabe is no longer the President. In the field of accounting, the substance over form principle is applied on recognition of assets acquired on hire purchase. Legally, the asset is owned by the seller until a final instalment is made, however, since the buyer enjoys full benefits like any owner, the substance over form overrides legalistic issues.

The 15-billion-dollar question is, can goodwill generated be sustained?

What is it with Zimbabwe and billion dollars? As the resource curse struck, $15 billion from Marange diamonds went missing. Public trust in government institutions eroded. Strangely, the billion-dollar question has cropped up in completely different circumstances. A hundred thousand of people that marched in the streets of Harare on Saturday, 18 November 2017, gave the goodwill to coming leadership. The billion-dollar question is, will the new President help to stop the bleeding, curb corruption and illicit financial flows that discount Zimbabwe’s abundant mineral wealth as a lever for socio-economic transformation. Although anchored on judicious exploitation of mineral resources, the country’s development plan, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM-ASSET) feels like a ZIM-LIABILITY.

Defense forces day in Zimbabwe will never be the same again

Public holidays feel like a time to just breakaway from demanding work schedule to spend time with the loved ones. The Defense Forces day in Zimbabwe is public day that the generality of Zimbabweans is disconnected from. Army camouflage did little to hide the fear and discomfort that citizens felt when seeing the army. All this has been reversed, the sight of Brigadier S.B Moyo reassuring the public that the army has moved to restore normalcy made the army to look like father Christmas. From here on, the Defense forces day will never be the same. It is likely to be one of the most celebrated national holiday that binds people together with a renewed sense of optimism. I saw some beautiful ladies, ordinarily beyond the class of many in the army, proudly taking selfies with soldiers, warmly expressing their love and appreciation. I felt jealousy for once, and wished I was part of the new heroes.

A lean and efficient police force needed

“Zimbabweans haven’t looted the shops owned by foreigners in their demonstrations and marches.” A lesson to other countries. One would think that with a million marchers expected in the streets of Harare, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) will be out in their numbers to promote order. Alas, with no police details, and an army content to celebrate with the people, no looting or acts of public disorder were recorded. The solution to contain the unsustainable civil service wage bill has presented itself. A peace loving citizenry does not deserve to be unfairly harassed by the police. Traffic police officers had become a menace. Setting up more roadblocks that road signs, squeezing cash from citizens struggling to make ends meet. Trim the police force and invest more in health workforce.

It’s a wedding day

A celebratory mood is sweeping across Zimbabwe. Experts, who read books are failing to read the people. It is not the time to nit-pick on the groom and a bride. Let us be steadfast and have strong belief that a new relationship is born between Zimbabweans and its leadership. Without Mugabe, mere possibilities of Zimbabwe turning around her economic woes are transformed into strong probabilities. Chiwenga, the army and Mnangagwa have an ugly past, but Zimbabweans took to the streets to salute them for bringing a day which looked elusive. A chance to talk about Zimbabwe’s future without Mugabe. At 93, having ruled for 37 years, Mugabe’s leadership had become rudderless. No wonder why Grace, his wife, with venom that is camouflaged by her looks, and her dubious doctorate, conflated her role as the first lady and that of the presidency.

No questions asked policy for artisanal miners: a pulse check

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 Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Superintendent Chidziva in Mutare shaking hands with an artisanal miner: picture taken by Wellingon Takavarasha, ZIMF CEO. 

“A picture says a thousand words.’ This picture is interesting for several reasons. Depending on which angle you may want to look at it. One angle is that formalisation of artisanal mining could be on the cards.  A formally dressed government official is seen shaking hands publicly with an artisanal miner, covered in mud, wearing a headlamp, hardly adequate personal protective equipment for a miner coming from a shift. Government perception of artisanal miners could be shifting, from derogatory to respect.

Looking back, a decade ago, government embarked on operation “Chikorokoza Chapera” meaning an end to artisanal mining. Then, government viewed artisanal miners as a menace to the environment, a boon for gold black market and high level of criminality especially wanton violence and murders. Another view point is that the greeting looks like an arm wrestling match that is about to begin. Indicating sustainability challenges around government’s policy or practice position on formalising artisanal mining.

Government is desperate to earn more foreign currency to keep alive the sick economy. Foreign currency is needed to import electricity, fuel, medicines, inputs and tools for industry among other essentials. Expediency could be the major driver of government’s policy position on artisanal gold mining. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is on the record that artisanal miners are the new heroes. Will this last, given the wrestling match that is about to begin. To artisanal miners, its more than economics, it’s about fight poverty, escaping the fangs of unemployment and scarce opportunity for entrepreneurship development. Government, must prove there is much more to its u turn on artisanal mining than the foreign currency card.

How ironic, the depletion of diamonds possibly has a hand in government’s desire to formalise artisanal gold mining. In 2008, operation Hakudzokwe led to the violent dislocation of thousand artisanal miners in Marange. Formal mining started around 2010, diamond exports peaked by volume and value to 14 million carats and U$741 million in 2012 from 1.3 million carats and $29 million dollars in 2009 according to Kimberly Process (KP) rough diamond statistics.  Come 2013, diamond production started to wobble. Ever since, the down spiral has been recorded, over 2 million carats valued at $123 million were exported in 2016. In its heydays, Marange Diamond mining pivoted the country’s foreign currency earnings. Undeniably, the fall of Marange diamond production was therefore stressful to government. Incidentally, this elevated the role of artisanal gold miners as the new heroes in terms of foreign currency earnings. Recently, gold production from artisanal and small scale mining has surpassed output of large scale producers.

Despite the unfavourable legal environment for artisanal mining, RBZ boldly pursued the “no questions asked policy.” The Mines and Minerals Act and the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill are silent on artisanal mining. Possession of gold without a legal mining permit or gold buying licence is illegal according to the Gold Trade Act.  In addition, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental agency, considers gold as a target for money laundering and terrorism financing if not properly accounted for, “from the mines to the market”

Recently, the gold mobilisation team has been visiting most artisanal gold mining hotspots around the country with the message that the police will no longer arrest artisanal gold miners if they sell their gold to the formal market.

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Meanwhile, last week on Wednesday, an artisanal miner appeared at the magistrate’s court in Mberengwa for illegal possession of gold. A charge that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years. RBZ’s “no questions asked policy” only protects artisanal miners at the point of sale, leaving artisanal miners vulnerable on mining sites and when transporting gold to the market.

Getting a mining permit, which protects artisanal miners from the harsh laws is beyond reach for artisanal miners. The costs are unaffordable. In addition to the cost barrier, artisanal miners must deal with a stampede by multiple government institutions regulating the mining sector. Ministry of Mines, police, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and local government among others.

On the policy front, a Technical Working Group (TWG) on mining ease of doing business reforms has come up with policy recommendations to formalise artisanal mining through a special permit. There is hope that the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill will be reviewed to enable legal formalisation of artisanal mining through a special permit. Likewise, the Gold Trade Act reform process has commenced. Reforming the law takes time and it is an unpredictable outcome. Lessons can be drawn from the wavering reform of the Mines and Minerals Act which to date failed to materialise in the past decade. The current Minister of Mines, Honourable Oliver Chidhakwa, is determined though to see the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill pass in the last session of Parliament. The clock is ticking and time is running out.

Considering the challenges stemming from legal reform process, RBZ’s “no questions asked policy” is a welcome development. However, some impediments still need to be looked at like inaccessibility of rich and profitable gold claims. The colonial Mines and Minerals Act handed vast rich claims to large scale investors through Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs). Speaking at the 6th edition of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba, the Minister of Mines opined that he is negotiating with large scale miners to release some of the claims that they are not going to use in the short to medium term. These negotiations are taking place whilst “the use it or lose it policy” is pending on approval of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill by Parliament.

To diffuse conflict escalation involving artisanal miners and large-scale miners, artisanal miner and small-scale miners, artisanal miners and farmers, an unintended consequence of “the no questions asked policy” the designation of profitable gold claims to artisanal miners is necessary. RBZ must support artisanal miners beyond “the no questions asked policy” to carter for artisanal miners in its financial packages meant boost gold mobilisation. Market driven solutions to environmental challenges caused by artisanal mining must also be explored. There are opportunities to convert the export incentive into an incentive for environmental rehabilitation for starters. The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) must quicken its pace and offer social protection to artisanal miners.  Pensions and workers compensation insurance fund should be availed to artisanal miners.

Getting back the photo which has triggered this conversation. Government avoid the arm wrestling match perception on its interventions to formalise artisanal mining.  The African Mining Vision (AMV) which sees “A mining sector that harness the potential of artisanal and small-scale mining to stimulate local/national entrepreneurship, improve livelihoods and advance integrated rural social and economic development” should guide government’s reform agenda. It would be remiss to conclude without another picture of an artisanal miner in Bubi district, nick named “Yikho Phela” meaning that’s why. Artisanal mining is the future, a clear message to government.

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Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) talking points: Bubi case study

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Engaging Government on Tax Justice, Illicit Financial Flows and Open Data

ZAMI Breakfast meeting

A post dialogue meeting to the 6th edition of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) was held at the Meikles hotel on 07 November 2017. This was a jump start to a series of reflective conversations on ZAMI 2017 Action Agenda that will be jointly facilitated by ZAMI organisers to reach out to key government institutions, business players, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), media and communities.  Primarily, the planned reflective conversations are meant drill down deeper on specific ZAMI Action Agenda items, to influence policy and practice reforms tailored to make mineral resources work for all Zimbabweans. A daunting challenge considering the recent resource curse that struck with discovery and subsequent exploitation of Marange diamonds. Roughly $15 billion was lost according to the President available here.

ZAMI organising team comprises Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development. Evidently, ZAMI is not an event but a process that involves district and provincial indabas and a series of policy dialogue meetings at local, national and international level.

The inaugural reflective conversation zeroed in on Tax Justice, Illicit Financial Flows and Use of Open Data to Promote Transparency and Accountability Action Agenda available here. This reflective conversation specifically dovetails with African Mining Vision (AMV) goal which seeks “to create a sustainable and well-governed mining sector that effectively garners and deploys resource rents and contributes to broad-based growth and development.”

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) were the primary stakeholders represented respectively by Melusi Tshuma, an economist and the acting Commissioner General, Happias Kuzvinzwa. Other participants comprised of representatives from Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), a faith based organisation, CSOs, government representatives from Ministry of Agriculture and Mechanisation and Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises. Altogether, the meeting was attended by 26 people.

Janet Mudzviti of ZIMCODD facilitated this reflective conversation that was held as a breakfast meeting and she shared the ZAMI journey. ZAMI is a domesticated version of the regional Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) that takes place yearly in Cape Town, South Africa since 2010. It is a parallel process to the regional Mining Indaba that is investor focused. The AMI created an alternative space for resource rich communities to engage with government and business. She emphasised that ZAMI is not  just about mining but broad based socio-economic development as per the African Mining Vision.

Veronica Zano of ZELA shared ZAMI’s main achievements. Ever since the inaugural ZAMI in 2012, the national multi-stakeholder dialogue meetings on mineral resource governance have been successfully organised annually. This year’s national dialogue meeting was the 6th edition of the ZAMI. Multi-stakeholders’ participation during the ZAMI has grown from strength to strength as evidenced by contributions from key government Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs). Ministry of Mines, ZIMRA, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and resource rich local governments among others. Business participation through the likes of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) has been remarkable.

Parliament and independent commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) are very supportive. Unarguably, one of the major success stories of the ZAMI is the creation of space for mining impacted communities interact with and ask hard questions to relevant government MDAs on challenges they are facing from mining activities. Malvern Mudiwa of Marange Development Trust (MDT), for instance, got a chance to ask the Minister of Mines, Oliver Chidhakwa, on what measures are in place to ensure that the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC), a state-owned company, contributes a fair share of taxes to Mutare Rural District Council (RDC). ZCDC took over from the 7 diamond mining companies operating in Marange that were barely contributing local taxes to Mutare RDC. ZAMI is no longer an annual event, feeder events such as provincial and district level alternative mining indabas are being held. The ongoing reflective conversations to raise awareness and push for the implementation of the ZAMI Action Agenda evinces the maturation of ZAMI as a process.

Reverend Samuel V Sifelani of ZCC gave a profound and clear presentation on the role of the church in natural resource governance in Zimbabwe available here. Predominantly, Zimbabweans are Christians. Therefore, the church leverages on its huge following to discuss mineral resource governance challenges such as the “resource curse.” He quoted Psalm 140:12 and Proverbs 12:23 “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

Mukasiri Sibanda with ZELA led the conversation on ZAMI 2017 Action Agenda. Some of the major taking points on the Tax Justice, Illicit Financial Flows and Use of Open Data to Promote Transparency and Accountability are highlighted below;

  • The national budget and the revenue performance reports produced by the Treasury and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) should align with international best practice on mineral revenue transparency like the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) . This means that mineral revenue contribution to the national purse should be specifically disclosed under each revenue head like Corporate Income Tax (CIT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), customs duty, withholding taxes and royalties among others.

This requirement is not too much to ask as data on payments made various government institutions by Caledonia’s Blanket Mine is available courtesy of Canadian Extractive Sectors Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA) report available here. A requirement under the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).  Likewise, data on payments made to government by Anglo-American owned Unki mine is public accessible because of the EU mandatory disclosures for listed companies in the extractive sector. Further details on budget transparency available here and tax transparency available here.

Melusi responded that MOF has the data on mining contribution per revenue head.  However, there is need to review the current budget reporting framework to ensure public disclosure of mining contribution per revenue head. Further, Melusi utged CSOs to work with Zimbabwe National Statistics Office (Zimstat) on best practice pertain to government information disclosure. He also urged CSOs to make use of public pre-budget consultations to give their input on national budget. ZELA’s response was that it made written submissions on the 2018 budget public consultations through the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy and Parliament Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development.

  • To fulfil their mandate on Domestic Resource Mobilisation (DRM), both MOFED and ZIMRA should push for open contracts in Zimbabwe which mitigates the risks of corruption and poor mining deals available here. Open contracting in the minerals and mining sector is provided for under Section 315 subsection 2 (c). Melusi’s commented that MOFED and ZIMRA only implement the fiscal side of Mining Agreements (MAs). Multiple Ministries are involved in the negotiation of Mining agreements. Therefore, disclosure of MAs needs requires engagement with multi government MDAs.
  • MOFED and ZIMRA should both disclose tax incentives which are off budget expenditures in nature and a cost to the national purse. This will allow the public to do a cost benefit analysis to sniff out harmful tax incentives and hold government and corporates to account on bad deals like stabilisation clauses. Basically, stabilisation clauses restrict government’s ability to flexibilise its tax rates to capture a fair share of revenue during community price booms. Melusi responded by saying the tax incentives given to investors are a matter of public record as detailed by the Income Tax Act (Chapter 23:06) and ZIMRA’s website available here. In response, ZELA explained that it refers to the actual amount of revenue forgone due to tax incentives. ZIMRA’s acting Commissioner General urged CSOs to engage ZIMSTAT on this issue. Tatenda Mombeyara of Trust Africa remarked that ZIMRA and MOFED should also raise issues discussed here with their counterparts in government like the ZIMSTAT.
  • On progressive tax regimes, Melusi and Kuzvinzwa explained that government has a progressive tax regime. A case in point involves PAYE, the more salary you earn the more taxes you pay. In addition, Kuzvinzwa asked for more conversation to understand what CSOs mean when they imply that they want government to adopt a progressive tax regime. Judith Kaulem of Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PFRT) opined that whilst government’s taxes on paper are progressive, in practice this may not be the case. The ZAMI discussion during the Tax Justice session revealed that individuals were the highest tax contributors through VAT and PAYE whilst CIT contribution to the treasury is meagre.

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Extracted from ZIMRA’s 2016 annual revenue performance report, available here

  • The 2018 budget must support government institutions to give better services to the mining sector. As an example, a computerised mining title system, a mining cadastre is not operational as the Ministry of Mines allege that there are no adequate resources to roll out the programme. Melusi of MOFED disclosed that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development included resources for the mining cadastre in their request to Treasury and the 2018 national budget will allocate the required resources.
  • Sharing of the national generated between the national and local governments. The budget must meet the constitutional requirement to allocate at least 5% of national generated revenue to provincial and local governments in each fiscal year in line with Section 301 subsection (3). ZIMRA’s acting Commissioner General urged CSOs to work with local governments to ensure that public resources are channelled towards service delivery. Auditor General’s reports on local government have gory details of abuse of public resources available here. He agreed that the national budget must be aligned with the constitution.
  • The national budget should earmark a portion of other public funds linked with mining like the Rural Electrification Levy (REL) to finance service delivery for communities where such resources are generated. Section 13 subsection 4 of the Constitution directs the state to innovate to ensure that communities benefit from resources in their areas.  Miners are heavy contributors to the REL because they are huge consumers of electricity. In 2016, Blanket Mine paid REL amounting to $466,000. If 20% of the REL is ploughed back in Gwanda community, where Blanket Mine is located, it can contribute to improved rural electrification programme of Gwanda. The definition of Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) must be wider, to take advantage of the opportunities highlighted above. ZIMRA’s acting Commissioner General’s response was that CSOs should concentrate on pushing for beneficiation and value addition of minerals to ensure meaningful socio-economic benefits that can transform the lives of communities.
  •  Fiscal support should be given to the ASM sector on exploration costs to ensure sustainability and profitability of a sector key to earn the country much needed foreign currency. In addition, the ASM sector directly provides employment and income generation opportunities to 500,000 people.  CSOs should work with the ASM sector on formalisation since government struggles to fund resources to the informal sector according to ZIMRA’s acting Commissioner General. Judith Kaulem of PFRT contributed that its government’s responsibility to ensure that the ASM sector is formalised. The Mines and Minerals Act does not recognise artisanal mining.

 

The breakfast meeting ended with the consensus that more formal and informal conversations are needed with the MOFED and ZIMRA to advance tax justice, to fight IFFs and to promote open data for public accountability.  The facilitator, thanked the MOFED and ZIMRA for their time and contributions as well as other participants. Other future planned reflective conversation will be held focusing on ASM and the ease of doing business reforms: Exploring Opportunities to Empower Communities; Gender and Extractive: Women’s Bodies Violence and Extractivism; Natural Resources, Governance and Development; Towards Climate Justice in Zimbabwe;  Business and Human Rights: BRICS Investments; Investing in Local Communities: Interrogating Community Benefit Schemes; and Competing Land Use in Zimbabwe: Conflicting Between Mining and Other Land Uses in Zimbabwe.

 

The Role Of The Church In Natural Resource Governance In Zimbabwe

By Reverend Samuel V Sifelani (presented on 07 November 2017 at post ZAMI breakfast meeting held at Meikles hotel, Harare)

Zimbabwe is one of the countries that are blessed with a variety of natural resources that include diverse mineral deposits, wildlife, farm lands, forests, and surface and groundwater systems. It is however disheartening, to note that the vast riches that the country possesses have not benefited the general populace in general, nor the local communities where these resources are being exploited in particular. This has created a wide gap between the haves and the have nots. Trans-national corporations have extracted and exploited natural resources across the country, leaving only massive degradation and poisoned water sources for the local communities.

Zimbabwe is said to have eighty percent of its population as adherents of the Christian faith. At the centre of the Christian faith are such principles as justice, equality, freedom and the common good. A preferential option for the poor cuts across the teaching of Jesus Christ, and as such the church is expected to fight in the corner of the underdog and the downtrodden. There exist inequalities in the area of the exploitation of natural resources across the board. The church stands, erect and unwavering, as the voice of the disenfranchised and a conscience of a sector that is driven by green and profit, at the expense of the common good. Like the prophets of old, the church ought to be the moral compass and voice of reason.

There are hundreds of scripture passages that talk about economic justice; about lifting up the poor and oppressed; about reining in the excesses of the rich. In fact, there probably is nothing God talks about more in the bible than this topic. God spoke through virtually all of the prophets of the Old Testament about selfishness and economic inequality. For instance, the prophet Amos said:

 “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)

The book of Amos is about a society similar to our own in which the profits produced by the work of the people were going, not back to the people who created them, but rather to the rich landowners. Amos called for economic justice and righteousness. One of the few verses in the bible repeated verbatim is this one:

“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” (Psalm 140:12 and Proverbs 13:23)

When Jesus began his public ministry, he said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:18-19 (quoting from Isaiah 61)

Christians must honestly ask themselves which view best reflects Christian (i.e. gospel) values: individual wealth creation (selfishness) or promotion of the common good (sharing)? No matter how you look at it, if we really believe the gospel, then we will believe in the things Jesus believed in. We will live Jesus’ values. Yes, even in our politics. Those values are all about loving God; loving (and treating) one’s neighbour (and enemy) as ourselves; sharing what we have with others; and generally promoting a better, more just, righteous, and unselfish world — for all of God’s children.

Religious Institutions in general and churches in particular, have been involved in advocacy in various sectors of society. They did and are still doing so for the sake of strengthening the voices of the ordinary people. The church has become the voice of the voiceless. Recently, areas which have been on focus are natural resources at large but mainly started with the extractive industry, environmental issues, land issues, and tax system.

John 10 verse 10 captures one of the most poignant statements uttered by Jesus. He states that the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, while his mandate to give life, and life in abundance. The same mandate of bringing life to nations and communities is what should pre-occupy the mission of the church.

The Church and other faith institutions clearly have an important role to play in ensuring sustainable natural resource governance.  As holders of moral authority within communities, the church can support efforts by communities to defend their rights and protect their livelihoods. The church can help communities engage effectively in dialogue and negotiations with companies to ensure communities receive appropriate benefits. Using its influence, it can use its influence to hold companies and governments accountable when things go wrong. Churches, should take up this responsibility in partnership with their communities.

God gave us natural resources to use to make our lives better, but He also gave us the ability to exercise wisdom in our use of these resources. The Bible warns against the misuse of those resources or exploiting them in the wrong or greedy way. How we use (or misuse) our resources affects other people as well as ourselves. If we waste the earth’s resources today, we will be harming our children and grandchildren. Jesus said, ‘In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matthew 7:12). This can be applied to the way we treat our earth and its resources as well as our ordinary relationships.” Christians have been commissioned by the Lord Jesus to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14). We are to preserve the earth from decay by the message of truth and redemption which we possess.

It is the role of the church to progressively rethink and realign theological premises that have contributed, directly or indirectly, to the wanton destruction and exploitation of natural resources. For example the commonly-held assertion that humans were given total dominion over the earth and all its resources (Genesis 1 verse 28). According to Ken Gnanakan, “dominion, therefore, cannot be understood purely as domination: a control, authority, absolute power with unlimited freedom to do as one likes.”(Gnanakan; 1999). God has specifically established the fact that He is the owner and true ruler of the earth (Ex. 9:29, 19:9; Is. 45:12). Everything comes from God, so He is the ultimate owner. Yet, as Psalm 115:16 states, “the earth [God] has given to man.” Because God has given humans nature and the earth, they should honour God with their use of it. Man is obviously to subdue and till the earth, but he is also to care for it. Clearly, man is the steward of God’s resources, and this stewardship requires a two-fold response: using and caring.

As Christians we are constantly challenged by the Gospel to cooperate with the Spirit of God who makes all things new, in order to remedy the disorder within our own personal lives, to rectify the injustice within the human society, and to reverse the ecological devastation of our world. As true stewards of God’s household, we must take responsibility for what happens to present and future generations of human beings and to the entire creation by advocating for a new environmental ethic and politics in our individual societies, and across the world.

Curbing IFFs & use of open data to promote transparency and accountability

IFFs ZAMI session.jpg

Key takeaways

  • Illicit Financial Flows are simple theft of public resourcesBriggs Bomba on definition of IFFs
  • We are all consumers of goods and services. So, everyone pays consumptive tax through Value Added Tax (VAT).” Cephas Makunike speaking on why the public must engage on tax justice issues
  • We are not concerned now with the missing $15 billion from Marange diamonds, we want government to account for the local share of $2 billion that was realised from Marange diamond proceedsMalvern Mudiwa, a community data extractor.

To help to turn the African Mining Vison (AMV) into reality, a reflective and recurrent national conversation on how government transparently and efficiently garners and deploys development finance from the country’s huge mineral asset base is a main feature of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI2017). Running under the theme “Promoting responsible and accountable governance of minerals”, the 6th edition of the ZAMI was held on 04 and 05 October 2017 at Holiday Inn Bulawayo. The ZAMI is a multi-stakeholder engagement platform involving communities, CSOs, government and business. ZAMI pivots on policy and practice reforms focused on amplifying community benefits from mining and the mitigation of community rights violations. Organisers of the ZAMI are the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)

The breakaway session on Tax Justice was moderated by Chipiwa of Action Aid International Zimbabwe (AAIZ). On the panel was Briggs Bomba (Trust Africa), Cephas Makunike (Tax Justice Network Africa) and Malvern Mudiwa (Marange Development Trust). Briggs Bomba opened the conversation by saying “We are dealing with a situation of incredible mineral wealth and terrible performance in terms of human development. Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) weakens government’s capacity to finance human and economic development programmes” Bomba highlighted that Zimbabwe is a mineral rich country. Its Platinum Group of Metals (PGMs) and high-grade chromium deposits are world class, ranking second best after South Africa. Yet according to UNICEF, 70% of Zimbabwe’s population is living under extreme poverty. Hospitals and clinics lack basic drugs, the education sector is poorly funded. Virtually, tertiary education has collapsed.

Bomba shared that the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) defines IFFs and OECD as “illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another. GFI classifies this movement as an illicit flow when the funds are illegally earned, transferred, and/or utilized’. However, he emphasised that IFFs flows simply means theft of public resources. Generally, there are three main sources of IFFs, base erosion and profit shifting (BEPs), criminality and corruption. BEPs accounts for the largest share of IFFs through mis invoicing. Whilst corruption accounts for 5% of attributable loss to IFFs, it is notable that Zimbabwe is the most corrupt country in Southern Africa. Zimbabwe is ranked number 154 out of 175 according to Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index (CPI) available here.

Briggs cautioned that there are different figures being thrown around on estimating the amount of IFFs. Since IFFs are an underground economic and criminal activity, estimates are simply based on what people can calculate. Look at the value chain to appreciate the risks of IFFs.

Some of the major drivers of IFFs in Zimbabwe include poor knowledge of the quality and quantity the country’s mineral assets. What this means is that, the country fails to leverage on economic rationale for disposal of mining rights. In other words, there is no relationship between how much is paid to acquire mineral concessions and value of the minerals acquired. Overgenerous tax incentives are also a major challenge. The $3 billion investment by the Russians in platinum mining is a welcome development available here. However, no taxes will be received until the investors recoup their capital.

Lack of disclosure of beneficial owners of mining deals is another driver of IFFs. It is difficult to stem corruption if natural persons benefiting mining deals can hide behind faceless shell companies. It is possible to register a company in Zimbabwe without the disclosure of the beneficial owner. Massive under invoicing of the quality and quantities of minerals exports is also a challenge. A case in point concerns the under-valuation of Marange that was noted the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) report (October 2013) on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Through Trade in Diamonds available here. Huge consultancy or management and brand fees paid to companies domiciled in tax havens also contribute to thinning of taxable income.

Bomba also highlighted that it is problematic that OECD is leading the fight against IFFs whilst they are a major destination of IFFs, they should not champion’ Africa’s fight against IFFs. Africa though is not investing enough to fight against IFFs. Africa only has the High-Level Panel report on IFFs known as the Mbeki here. Whereas OECD look has heavily invested in documentation and institutions set up by OECD Africa only has HLP report. As for Zimbabwe, it’s highly regrettable that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rather than the Ministry of Finance is the major participant at African Union discourse on curbing IFFs.

In his presentation, Cephas Makunike of the TJNA implored the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to set up a special unit to deal with abuse of transfer pricing, a major driver of IFFs. Other African countries like SA, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, have set up transfer pricing real time monitoring units. He emphasised that Parliament should have real teeth on oversight role, reviewing of mining agreements and audits for SOE. Section 315, subsection (2) (c) of the Constitution requires Parliament oversight in contract negotiation and performance of mining agreements to ensure transparency, honesty, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness.

Makunike also shared the four important roles of taxation known as the 4Rs, Revenue raising, Redistribution, Repricing and Representation. Taxes are an important tool to raise revenue to fund government activities. It is important for government to have a progressive tax regime. Those that earn more should pay more. It is disheartening to note that Corporate Income Tax contribution to the national purse is meagre. Through taxes, government can redistribute wealth through financing service delivery programmes such as health and education. Government expenditure must be pro-poor.

Taxation is also used to reprice goods. For instance, government imposes “sin taxes” to discourage the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. People may think that they are not paying taxes, but is important to note that Value Added Tax is paid by consumers, one way or another we are consumers of goods and services. As tax payers, citizens therefore have a right to question government on the handling of public funds to fulfil their Socio-Economic Rights (SERs). The 4 Roles of taxation give enough cause for public participation in tax justice issues. It is fundamental that the subject of taxation which is often deemed highly technical, must be simplified to make it easier for citizen to meaningfully participate in the management of public funds.

Another area that Cephas raised what the need to create and sustain a tax justice campaign in Zimbabwe. At regional and international level, campaigns that have taken off include the stop the bleeding campaign and follow the money campaign. For this to happen in Zimbabwe, a strong tax justice network is needed. A platform to promote tax dialogue at different levels just like policy or political dialogue meetings at SAPES Trust must be established. He also flagged that the discussion on taxes must be linked with government’s failure to provide basic services like health, education, clean portable water is a violation of the constitutional rights, human rights. International commitment like Abuja declaration on health which sets a minimum threshold  for investing into the health sector are useful to hold government accountable of pro poor expenditure.  At least 15% of the budget should be invested in the health sector.

Malvern Mudiwa of MDT, a community data extractor under the PWYP pilot project with ZELA on community data literacy for demand driven change available here shared his experience. Through accessing and analysing Mutare RDC’s financial statements for 2014 and 2015, MDT noted that diamond mining companies were barely contributing taxes to the local government. MDT also analysed the Auditor General’s 2015 report on local authorities which was silent on problems around mineral revenue generation by Mutare RDC. However, the same report exposed the challenges that Mutoko RDCs was facing on revenue collection. MDT is in the process of doing a comperative analysis of Mutare RDC’s budget with total proceeds of diamond sales from 2009 to 2016. This will establish if there is a relationship between diamond proceeds and the local fiscal muscle. For instance, in 2012, diamond sales peeked to $741 million and it would be interest to see if this Mutare RDC’s revenue spiked in that year. Whilst the nation is ceased with the missing $15 billion issue available here, MDT wants government to account for the local share of $2 billion that was realised.

The following issues were discussed and agreed;

  • We need legal reforms to address regressive tax regimes and ensure policy amendments are implemented and tracked. To achieve this, tax incentives that constitute off budget expenditures should be publicly accounted for to enhance budget transparency in line with international best practice. Harmful tax incentives must be eliminated to enable corporates to pay a fair share of mining taxes. Government must invest in quality geological data to enable economic rationale in the disposal of mineral rights to investors. ZIMRA must set up a real-time price transfer monitoring unit to curb mineral revenue leakages just like its regional counterparts like Kenya, South Africa and Ghana.  The Companies Act must have a provide for public registry of beneficial ownership of mining deals and real beneficiaries other government procurement contracts.
  • There is need for activists to build knowledge to effectively make use of data driven advocacy initiatives through research and simplifying and repackaging of raw data. By doing so, we open previously technical platforms for citizens to engage. To achieve this, the PYWYP pilot project on community data literacy for demand driven change must be rolled out in all mining communities in Zimbabwe. There is need to invest in data visualisation to make information on mining revenue easily understood by different stakeholders including communities.
  • Establishment of a working tax justice network to monitor and advocate against IFFs in Zimbabwe. To achieve this, a monthly dialogue platform of tax justice issues like the SAPEs Trust policy dialogues must be established. The PWYP campaign must be broadened to include other CSOs that are not directly working on mineral resource governance but concerned with service delivery issues. This will strengthen the chorus on campaigns such as stop the bleeding.

 

 

The US Withdrawal from EITI: A Note from Africa

RESOURCE FUTURE ZIMBABWE

Gilbert Makore*

The US formally communicated its decision to withdraw from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) on the 2nd of November. This was hardly surprising and was expected given an earlier decision to remove Section 1504 Dodd Frank Act that would have required mandatory disclosure of project level payment data by extractive companies.

The EITI allows for the public disclosure and reconciliation of payments made by extractive companies and those received by governments. Ordinarily, the US withdrawal should only really draw the ire of US citizens who, as a consequence of this decision, will be deprived access to this public disclosure. However, the US withdrawal has political implications for Africa and the EITI as a whole.

Withdrawing from EITI and doing away with the Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank regrettably sends the message that-in 2017- big oil is still winning. It has been reported that big oil companies such…

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