CIVIL society activist Farai Maguwu has called on communities to form stronger movements to challenge post-colonial governments to defend people’s rights pertaining to natural resource beneficiation.
Maguwu said this while addressing the 2014 Sadc People’s Summit which opened in Bulawayo on Thursday and drew participants from several regional human rights groups such as La Via Campesina Africa, Rural Women’s Assembly, WoMin and the People’s Dialogue.
The groups are campaigning for the rights of farmers, rural women and villagers living in communities affected by mining activities to be considered ahead of mining conglomerates’ interests.
Maguwu blasted what he termed “the plunder of Africa’s natural resources by the Global North and emerging economies like BRICS”, saying communities should closely monitor mining operations and transport systems that were involved in moving stolen resources out of the region.
“We need stronger movements that challenge the power of our post-colonial governments that have lost interest in defending people’s rights,” Maguwu said.
“It seems like our former liberators – fought not to replace the system but to rather replace the former oppressors and occupy the position of power to enrich themselves,” he said.
WoMin representative Samantha Hargreaves said there was need for value addition and beneficiation of natural resources to retain greater wealth nationally.
“The devastating environmental and social impacts will continue unchecked and exacerbated by the high levels of energy and water consumption (and pollution) that accompany the processing and value addition to raw materials.
“These costs are mainly borne by peasant women in the region who have the development solutions we must recognise and build on,” Hargreaves said.
La Via Campesina general secretary Elizabeth Mpofu said food sovereignty was being threatened by corporate organisations who grabbed land and water meant to benefit communities.
Rural Women’s Assembly representative Mercia Andrews challenged regional political leaders to consult communities on the kind of investments they wanted in their areas.