Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is playing a pivotal role to ensure that communities benefit from resources in their localities as stipulated in the Constitution, Section 13 (4) on National Development, as such ZELA seeks to influence an enabling policy and legal environment to foster responsible and sustainable growth of Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM).
By Mirirai Ngoya
One pathway to achieve this is through conducting mobile legal clinics to enhance grassroots participation in legal and policy reforms to deliver ease of doing business for artisanal and small scale miners (ASMers).
Further, the legal clinics leverage on experienced legal practitioners to share lived realities on legal bottlenecks hampering responsible and sustainable growth of ASM, for example, during the recently conducted mobile legal clinic training in Zvishavane.
Mining is the leading foreign currency generator and ASM, especially in the gold sector, are significant contributors – last year, 2018 producing 22.7 tonnes of gold totalling close to a billion dollars to that end.
ZELA is working in conjunction with other organisations that focuses on artisanal and small scale mining like the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) in making sure that artisanal and small scale miners are well represented and that they gain from community minerals.
ZELA’s assistant Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Officer, Mr Joshua Machinga had this to say, “ZELA has put a lot of efforts to amplify the voices of ASM associations on ease of doing business reforms at a national level.
As a result, “the miners now have a simplified environmental management plan that miners must complete for responsible and safe mining practices” he added.
“We have done several types of research and in these, several recommendations have been noted including the need to conduct mobile legal clinics, a way to go for artisanal and small-scale miners to interface with policymakers and their fellow miners (large scale miners) on ensuring and improving responsible mining operations.”
Mobile legal clinics are platforms of interface among stakeholders in the mining sector and the artisanal and small-scale miners to deliberate and proffer ideas on how to ensure responsible and environmentally friendly mining. These mobile legal clinics are meant to unpack some of the operational issues, among them the cumbersomeness of acquiring registration licenses and permits, safety, health, environment and the need for responsible mining activities by artisanal and small-scale miners, he explained.
Through these awareness initiatives that facilitate knowledge exchange and engagement platforms that bring together players in the mining sector value chain to connect, engage and create workable relationships with artisanal and small-scale miners. These are meant to increase compliance among artisanal and small-scale miners
ZELA is taking strides to make sure that environmental protection is also enhanced by conducting seminars with miners teaching them good measures to be implemented when mining.
“We are doing all this for miners in a way to bring compliance among artisanal and small-scale miners in order to obtain manageable operations and safe mining”, he further alludes.
It is worthwhile to note that at the district level, ZELA helped ASM associations of Bubi, Gwanda, and Zvishavane-Mberengwa to compile their key tasks on ease of doing business reforms. At the provincial level, a similar process was undertaken for Matabeleland North and South Provinces”, (#ASMinMatNorth; #ASMinMatSouth).
“The artisanal and small-scale miners also engage the large mines through engagement meetings facilitated by the organization. ”As such, they must also enjoy the benefits which other mines in Zimbabwe are enjoying.