Lessons learned from Zimbabwe’s Alternative Mining Indaba

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Zebbies Mumba, Gerald Mutale and Tommy Singongi, three representatives of PWYP Zambia attended Zimbabwe’s Alternative Mining Indaba which PWYP Zimbabwe helped organise. Here are some of the key lessons the Zimbabwean delegation took back with them:

Talking matters – The Alternative Indaba was a key opportunity for community members’ to voice their opinions to parliamentarians, academics, chiefs and members of civil society. PWYP Zambia noted that one of the reasons this truly flowed was that each member was free to speak in their preferred language, rather than have to fit their experiences to a language they were less familiar with.

Balanced representation – As community members spoke about their experiences with extractive projects, women’s testimonies revealed a distinct experience separate to what men were living through – and it emerged also that the impact of extraction was heavier on women than on men. PWYP Zambia decided that in the future they wanted even more balance when they invited community representatives to speak at their events, to make sure that women were there and could tell share their stories and experiences.

Relocation for communities – Some of the challenges faced for communities forced to relocate to make way for mining are similar in Zimbabwe and Zambia. In many cases, the new houses provided are too small to accommodate the families and ignore cultural practices. In some cases where polygamy was practiced, families were only given one house instead of the two or three homes that they had previously. The relocation also rarely took into account the loss by the community of non-housing elements, such as an uprooting of social bonds. PWYP Zambia is committed to ensuring that community and cultural rights are respected when relocation due to extraction takes place.

Participation of parliamentarians – PWYP Zambia was impressed by the participation of parliamentarians for the full two days of the mining indaba, stating that they find it difficult to secure the participation of their representatives. They will be looking for how to better involve parliamentarians in their work, so that these can get a first-hand account by community members on the effects of extraction.

With thanks to Zebbies Mumba, whose report provided the basis for this piece!

Photo of a mine in Zimbabwe taken by Kevin Walsh, available on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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