ALL roads led to Mutare as scores of people attended the 2016 edition of the Manicaland Alternative Mining Indaba that ran from June 7-8 at the Amber Hotel.
Running under the theme, “Creating shared value in the mining sector through engagement with people, business and government,” the second edition of the indaba was well attended drawing invited mining communities from as far as Mutoko, where black granite is mined.
In his opening remarks Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) director Mutuso Dhliwayo said this year’s indaba came at an important time when there have been positive developments in the mining sector, chief among them the recognition of artisanal miners.”This year’s indaba we are empowering the most important shareholder which is the communities so that their voice can be heard. The main purpose of the indaba is to open dialogue platforms about issues in our mining communities and ensure mining communities benefit from their mineral resources,” said Dhliwayo.
Moreblessing Chidaushe from the Non-Governmental Organisation Norwegian Church Aid concurred with Dhliwayo and said the indabas were essential as a movement and platform to air views from people in mining communities and discuss fiscal issues as well concerning revenue flows from mining exploits in the country.
Africa University lecturer and researcher, Dr Solomon Mungure said instead of being instruments of development in mining communities in Manicaland, diamonds and gold have actually brought poverty and suffering to the people. ”We need to ideologically change certain things like the exploitation of blacks by blacks in mining. As long as there is disorganisation and corruption, we will remain poor despite having diamonds and gold in Manicaland. If we cannot plan ourselves, other nations will plan for us, like the Chinese situation,” he said.
Dr Mungure said the country’s mining laws should be amended to ensure communities benefit after discovery of mineral .He revealed that his current research was indicating that Manicaland was generating more revenue from gold than diamonds, but urged local miners to be more organised to attract meaningful investment in the sector and develop the region through gold deliveries.
He said Manicaland had over 100 years of industrial mining history whilst resources at most mineral deposits are not known. “Mines are worked on an on and off basis and most mines operate at zero reserves or few months reserves. Small scale producers who dominate the mining industry in Zimbabwe have no technologies to estimate the resources,” said Dr Mungure.
Veronica Zano from ZELA said policies on shared values were important citing that it was important for communities to share rights to mineral resources.
Artisanal miners present applauded their recognition by Government in the wake of the country’s high unemployment. Women small scale miners however expressed security concerns in their day to day operations. They said since most women are unable to venture in underground mining they resort to hiring men, but some of the men eventually steal from them.
Small scale miners said prices of hiring compressors ranging from $60-$80 and license fees were still too high despite the recent amendments. Manicaland Miners Association vice-chairman Godfrey Kombo said Government should lure investors to assist in the sector. He said already there was a programme with DTZ-OZGEO that is renting out its compressors to small scale miners in Penhalonga at reasonable fees. Mr Kombo added that accessing geologists and surveyors was a problem before but Government has promised to improve on that recently after decentralising the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development had office last year to have full-fledged regional offices.
Media practitioner Donald Nyarota during a plenary session on the role of the media in mining called for the continuous advocacy for licensing of community radio stations to address ‘real community issues.’“We have local community radio initiatives like Kumakomo who have been doing great advocacy work but still haven’t been licensed. We welcome the licensing of the local commercial radio station, Diamond FM, but they need to make money through advertising and it will be very difficult to say negative issues against advertising companies. This is where community radios come in as they are not for profit making but community development,” said Nyarota.
Invited delegates from other cities also expressed disappointment at the state of the Mutare’s roads and infrastructure regardless of the province having plentiful mineral resources including diamond and gold.
The indaba was jointly hosted by ZELA, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC).