An expert on issues to do with transparency in the mining industry said it was important for citizens in any country to be informed of what was happening in the natural resources sector.
Southern Africa Resource Watch director Claude Kabemba said the public and all stakeholders should be privy to all the information pertaining to the signing of mining contracts, financial reports from mining companies and information on how much the country was making from the sale of minerals.
Kabemba said this yesterday while addressing delegates at the multi-stakeholders’ conference on the extractive sector at a Harare hotel.
“It is important that the citizens of each country are informed of what is happening in the natural resources sector,” said Kabemba.
“People need information on how much the country is making from the sale of the minerals.”
Kabemba said mining companies should make information about how much they paid government in terms of taxes and royalties available.
Government should in return publish information of how much it had been collecting from these companies and how it would use it.
He said it was equally important for government to publish the contracts they had signed with companies, so that the people knew what had been agreed on, because it was difficult for the people and communities around the mines to monitor the activities by government and the mines.
Kabemba said access to information about mining contracts and financial reports of the extraction industry would help promote transparency.
“Transparency is very important because people expect reports from the exploitation of their minerals, so that they have a better life. When you look at the impact of mining activities upon communities today, you will discover that those communities are the poorest in all our countries in Sadc,” he said.
He continued: “What we are saying is that by making information available to these people, it puts pressure on government and companies to be accountable and begin to pay what they are supposed to pay. Government will also start closing gaps for corruption and gaps for companies to evade paying taxes.”
He said accountability could not succeed without transparency because people needed information if they were to be able to monitor what was happening around them.
Kabemba said concepts like the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and the Publish What You Pay campaign, if adopted in any country, would help deal with issues of transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association director Mutuso Dhliwayo said if information was made available to all stakeholders, it would help dispel assertions that government and mining companies were corrupt.
“Transparency would help government so that people would not think there is something wrong that they were doing in their operations.
“ If information on how they work was available, their operations would not be shrouded in secrecy,” said Dhliwayo.