Mining engineer Norman Mukwakwami is part of the Zimbabwean civil society response to addressing issues of accountability and transparency in the management and utilization of natural resources in Zimbabwe.
He departs this weekend for the United States, where he will be a 2014 Washington Fellow, part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Norma calls YALI a visionary initiative that recognizes the infinite potential of youth.
Norman will spend six weeks taking courses in civic leadership at the University of California, Berkeley. “The University’s Goldman School of Public Policy is one of the leading institutions shaping public policy around the world, and I believe this is where I will gain skills to identify, analyse and solve critical issues found within mining communities,” he says. He intends to establish a project to reduce the use of mercury in artisanal mining, which is in line with the Minamata Convention.
“When I return to Zimbabwe, I intend to continue advocacy work on mineral policy including working to curb illicit financial flows in extractive industries, advocate for community development agreements, as well as lobby for the formalization of artisanal mining,” says Norman.
Through his organisation, Norman has contributed to the campaign for the formalization of artisanal mining and local beneficiation of diamonds in Zimbabwe. These campaigns contributed to the Government of Zimbabwe’s decision to decriminalise and formalise artisanal mining, as well as the recent gazetting of legislation that sets aside ten percent of Zimbabwe’s gems for local beneficiation.
Norman is the Research Coordinator at the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, a local non-governmental organization whose mandate is to strengthen democratic governance in natural resources, particularly the extractive industry in Zimbabwe.
His experiences in the extractive industries include assignments as an intern with the mining engineering department at Rio-Zim Renco Mine and Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering and has been engaged in research on several issues that affect the extractive industry in Zimbabwe, including artisanal mining, government policy, mining law, illicit financial flows, investment, conflict between the extractive industry and communities.
Norman is also a blogger, running Project 263 (www.projekt263.wordpress.com), a blog dedicated to sharing ideas to revitalize Zimbabwe’s ailing socio-economic environment.