Zimbabwe’s mining sector is a major contributor to the country’s economy, accounting for about 12% of its gross domestic product (GDP). If paid closer attention, government reports say the sector has prospects to bring into the country about 12 billion US dollars annually by 2023. This potential has not been achieved yet owing to, among other issues, policy uncertainties. In recent years, Zimbabwe has been re-structuring its policies and regulatory framework to improve investment and productivity in the mining sector. The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, recently approved by the cabinet is set to reform the Mines and Minerals Act of 1961, which has long been termed outdated and not addressing current mining hurdles blocking the country’s potential, among such hurdles being disputes between farmers and miners.
While the country looks forward to the new legislation expected to go through parliament, stakeholders in the mining sector, policymakers, civil society, and communities often convene to interrogate existing loopholes and table recommendations to integrate into the regulation of the growing sector going forward. As such, the International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa and our partners in Zimbabwe introduced the Model Law on Mining on Community Land in Africa during the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba, 2022, a multi-stakeholder platform created to facilitate engagements between mining host communities, the government, and industry.
The Model mining law developed between 2013 and 2016 is designed to protect communities and human rights in relation to mining operations, using the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as a reference point. The law was developed through extensive research and consultations with communities, civil society actors, policy analysts, and advocates in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, DRC, and Angola identifying key problems associated with mining across most African countries. It thus, among other guidelines gives priority to principles that could underpin legislation on mineral resources aimed at promoting human rights.
While the goal of the introduction was to familiarize community members, CSOs, policymakers, and the media with the model law as a tool for formulation and implementation of legal and policy framework to enable sustainable socio-economic development hinged on Natural Resource Exploitation, Its popularization and application in Zimbabwe would go a long way in empowering communities and influencing progress to achieve this year’s theme of the Mining Indaba, A just energy transition for sustainable communities in a climate crisis era!
Among the model law’s guidelines include principles and fundamental rights, community decision making, Impact Assessment, Free Prior and Informed Consent, compensation and relocation, taxation regulations, artisanal mining regulations, general standards for sustainable mining, local grievance and dispute resolution mechanisms, among other issues raised during the ZAMI 2022.
Speaking during the introduction at the mining Indaba, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Development chairperson, Hon Edmond Mkaratigwa commended the guide as well articulated, describing it as timely and a necessity in making the lawmakers’ task easier, at a time when the Zimbabwean parliament has been seized with the crafting of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
Community and civil society representatives attending the Indaba also received copies of the model law, acknowledging it as an important tool in equipping them with the knowledge to engage lawmakers and mining companies in the constantly growing sector. IANRA would introduce the model law to host communities and artisanal small-scale and medium-scale miners in Gwanda and Zvishavane in rural parts of Zimbabwe where some of our members work. We intend to continue the popularization in many other countries to ensure involvement, sustainability, and benefits for local mining communities.