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CBOs plot to corner errant miners

COMMUNITY-based organisations (CBOs) in Manicaland province have set up a committee to force foreign and local mining companies to account for their environmental, social and economic transgressions in the province.

The resolution was made at a recent community dialogue that brought together nearly 50 CBOs representatives drawn from the province.

The CBOs which attended the meeting included the Manica Youth Assembly, Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU), Zivai Community Empowerment Trust (ZICET), Young Entrepreneurs Trust (YETZ) and Mutasa Youth Forum Trust.

The dialogue was convened by the Information for Development Trust under the theme: Impact of Foreign and Local Gold Mining Activities on the Environment and Local Socio-economic Rights.

The meeting comes in the wake of prevalent and harmful environmental practices by some foreign and local mining companies.

For example a joint venture between the Zimbabwean government and some Belarusian investors has been accused of engaging in riverbed mining in Penhalong which has caused massive siltation and pollution of Mutare and Odzi rivers.

Also in Penhalonga, artisanal gold mining activities are causing serious environmental degradation and cyanide poisoning of rivers.

The CBOs tasked the committee to engage investors in mining to come up with win-win strategies. The committee will engage the mines parliamentary portfolio committee as well as other stakeholders that include the Environmental Management Agency.

“We are going to petition the government to action previous petitions which they have ignored as a starting point of the action plan,” said Fungai Nhaitai, the YETZ leader.

The communities resolved to work on an information dissemination framework to be used to mobilise affected communities to have a united front in their fight for environmental and socio-economic justice.

Prince Mupindu, a Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development youth volunteer, said: “We are going to use the existing legislation and leverage on its powers to demand our socio- economic rights. Communities have a right to manage their own affairs and they should get their share from mining proceeds.

“Communities should be empowered so that they are able to demand their rights and accountability.”   

The communities resolved to mobilise and participate in the crafting of a new mines and minerals law which seeks to ensure tighter environmental protection, effective settlement of farmer-miner disputes and greater accountability in mine ownership, among others.

“There is need to identify a common ground so that as communities we also benefit from the precious resources being extracted in our area,” said Precious Gamunorwa, a legal expert from ZIDAWU who was one of the panelists.

Cosmas Sunguro, from ZIDAWU Trust, told the meeting that youths and women were not economically benefitting from the minerals being extracted in their communities.

Mildred Muzanechita from ZICET said women and youths were the most affected by unsustainable mining practices.

“Currently, communities are left to bear the costs of mining as they lose livestock and even human life to environmental degradation being caused by the foreign investors,” she said.

Source | NewsDay

https://www.newsday.co.zw/local-news/article/200026652/cbos-plot-to-corner-errant-miners

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