- April 28, 2021
- Posted in LOCAL
LAST month, the government signed the Petroleum Exploration Development and Production Agreement (PEDPA) with Invictus Energy, which has been exploring for oil and gas reserves in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central province.
The agreement marked an important step towards the sinking of the first test wells to see what exactly lies underground.
But something was amiss.
Both parties surely know the right thing to do, and if they forgot that resource exploitation issues require high levels of transparency, we take this opportunity to remind them. Invictus, the Australian miners, who are undertaking the exploration, are bound by transparency regulations as demanded by the Australian Stock Exchange where it is listed, while the Zimbabwean government knows that it must take everyone on board to avoid lack of stakeholder buy-in as this important deal progresses.
But none of the parties took the important step of disclosing exactly what they agreed on and what’s in it for the people of Zimbabwe, especially villagers in Muzarabani.
This is potentially a spot of potential conflict between government and the community, and the community and Invictus if the agreement is not made public.
Invictus has already indicated that the claims that oil or gas, to the extent never seen on the continent before, could be lying untapped underneath the earth’s crust and the people are waiting with bated breath.
That is why it is important for this agreement to be publicised and even provided to people in Muzarabani in print to apprise villagers on what government is planning about the resource, and how they stand to benefit.
Anything short of this would not be good enough.
It will be another way of government telling Zimbabweans that what lies underneath the earth’s crust is not theirs, but a preserve of the elite.
Zimbabweans need no reminding about what happens when people are excluded from participating in the exploitation of natural resources found in their localities.
The bloodshed that took place at Marange diamond fields is one such example, and the ongoing tug-of-war between police and gold panners is yet another.
The last thing Zimbabweans expect is to wake up one morning to witness oil oozing out and be told that it has already been mortgaged. We urge government to do the right thing, which is exercising transparency. Even if it is not found, the people must be fully informed to understand that there is nothing to expect from Muzarabani.