Transparency dosage critical to help the fight against violence in artisanal and small-scale mining

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As the government of Zimbabwe takes action to contain machete gangs who have wreaked havoc in almost every key gold producing areas in Zimbabwe, mining sector transparency reforms must not go under the policy radar. To a large extent, Publish What You Pay-Zimbabwe believes that opacity, the secretive way in which the mining sector operates and governed is the root cause of violence in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). Disputes, conflict and lawlessness which is threatening to subtract heavily the socio-economic benefits from ASGM fester easily because of lack of open and accountable management of the mineral resources.

The current mining legislation, the Mines and Minerals Act in its current form promotes in formalisation and criminalisation of ASGM. There is no regulation of the sector hence no protection of those in (ASM) and encouraging illegal mining activities which is fueling violence in the sector. As a result of lack of adequate geological data, government cannot be proactive in containing gold rushes which are mainly behind chaotic ASGM. The issuance and management of mining titles is outdated, lags behind international best practices which deliver open access to the mining cadastre – a mining title management system. Taking advantage of this transparency deficit, unscrupulous actors who are politically well connected corruptly control access to mining areas. For all the talk about phenomenal gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), there is information black out on production figures and there is no granular data on gold delivery data. Information on how much gold is produced per district, at provincial and national level is not publicly disclosed including gold deliveries. The only notable exception is that gold deliveries to FPR are disclosed at national level. The Zimbabwe Republic Police has remained tight lipped on data which is critical to understand the severity of violence in ASGM – number of cases reported, people arrested, the wanted persons list and deaths linked to this violence. Of course, because of the underground nature of ASGM, most cases are not reported to the police. However, disclosure by the police on the extent of criminality in ASGM is critical to prove that this sector is secretive.

In addition to what government is doing, the PWYP Zimbabwe, therefore calls for:

  • Policy reform process to support and decriminalize the ASM. Countries like Tanzania have made significant progress in formalizing the ASM sector through development of policy and legislation that regulate ASM. Lessons can be drawn from such countries.
  • Adoption or domestication and implementation of transparency and accountability initiatives such as EITI. We applaud government for coming up with the companies’ law that requires that all companies to be registered.” Implementation of this Act is key in this current situation.
  • A computerized mining title system. This will help address the allocation and administrating of mining claims challenges. Incidences of multiple claim ownership disputes can be addressed through a more transparent and accountable mining title management.
  • Review of the no questions asked policy in line with international standards such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidance in all mineral supply chains guidelines to ensure production and sourcing practices do not contribute to adverse human rights or conflict and its financing.
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