The impact of the mining sector on Zimbabwe’s economy is very modest. Despite the fact that the country sits on one of the richest mineral deposits in the world, Zimbabwe has not succeeded in translating its mineral wealth into overall economic development. The government has recognised that fact, however, they are optimistic that the sector is the leading horse towards Zimbabwe’s economic revival.
Rudairo Dickson Mapuranga
The environmental consequences of mining especially in the old mines are fairly large. Whilst it is true that people are anticipating a positive outcome in the sector that will necessitate economic revival, the sector at the moment seems to lack the stamina to solely reinvigorate the economy considering the prevailing political-economic situation Zimbabwe is experiencing right now.
Zimbabwe’s constitution has been hailed as a very immodest and a democratic mechanism that dictates transparency of decision-making processes and it is rich in determining the degree to which politicians are held accountable. However, the majority of Zimbabweans feel that the constitution is being largely neglected for the benefit of a few oligarchs. For example, recently Mutumwa Mawere through his Twitter handle accused the government of abusing the constitution and laws of the land to suit their gains.
Despite making progress in democratic consolidation and well organised 2018 elections, the challenges Zimbabwe is facing right now seem to be coming from a democratic point of view. Many people who were supporting the current regime turned back due to different reasons including renowned journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who accuses the government of its continual disrespectful of human rights. Perhaps some sector challenges are arising due to the remaining democratic weaknesses of the political field.
Zimbabwe has not developed a culture of community engagement—especially on resource issues, recently traditional leaders (Chief and Tenzi Nehoreka) met in Norton where they were advocating for their inclusion in national development together with the consultation of citizens (community) when granting mining concessions.
The mining sector in Zimbabwe is dominated by people who are politically connected which is a direct blow to the constitution of Zimbabwe. Large scale mines are not timely given their mine on mine finances after selling their minerals to the state and despite serious complains from the miners the government has not done much to address this critical issue. This has resulted in some mines closing down operations for some time for
example Metallon gold has put some of its mines under care and maintenance.
Despite fairly complex political and institutional challenges, there are a number of opportunities that may
facilitate an improvement in the governance of the mining sector, they may include among others,
(i) The shift – in power after these largely disputed 2018 elections to political dialogue between the two main actors, which may allow the government to explore practical ways of implementing its election manifesto and improving the economy through the mining sector;
(ii) Engaging large scale miners to review terms of their investment agreements and pay them on time;
(iii) The constructive initiatives from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Chamber of Mines and Zimbabwe Miners Federation to initiate a dialogue and move towards development-friendly solutions.
The performance of the mining sector on economic improvement will be prospectively boosted by Zimbabwe’s introduction of appropriate reforms in the government. It is therefore of paramount importance that a greater awareness of incentive problems be set up at a political level and their possible implications for the mining sector’s
performance and the economy at large.
The set of checks and balances, as stipulated by the Constitution, have to be reinforced. More so, capacity building at different levels and institutions are needed and should be combined with efforts to enhance incentives for institutional performance.
This article first appeared in the September 2019 Issue of the Mining Zimbabwe Magazine.