BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
civil society organisations and captains of industry, among others, have called on government to swiftly repeal the Gold Trade Act and formalise artisanal and small-scale mining to boost gold production.
In a communiqué, various stakeholders drawn from mining-impacted communities, civil society organisations, Parliament of Zimbabwe, artisanal and small-scale miners, captains of industry and the media fraternity urged government to deal with the machete gold wars.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a spate of violence in the gold sector, perpetrated by the machete gangs, resulting in disruption in gold production.
“The violence, if not contained, will paint the country’s investment climate in a gloomy picture, thus (prospective investors keen on responsible mineral supply chains will shun us).
Instead of viewing artisanal miners as genuine actors in the mining industry, they have been unfairly labelled perpetrators of machete violence,” reads part of the communiqué.
“We now, therefore, call on the government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to ensure that it moves swiftly to formalise artisanal and small-scale mining instead of criminalising this sector which has become a source of livelihood for many people trying to escape persistent poverty.”
The stakeholders called on government to put in place transparent and regulatory mechanisms which offer easy access to mining titles and legal production channels.
“Stringent and deterrent sentences must be endorsed, while the judiciary must ensure that bail is not granted to these human rights violators. The government of Zimbabwe must move a step further to gazette a statutory instrument whose objective would be to protect the citizens from machete-wielding gangs,” the communiqué further reads.
They also said government and stakeholders must begin a formal process to design and implement due diligence measures consistent with regional and international principles such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and embrace the guiding principles on business and human rights.
“The status of women in mining must be improved for the better. This is a prudent move in the promotion of responsible and safe artisanal and small-scale gold mining,” it also reads.
The communiqué was signed by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, Christian Aid, Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation, Zimbabwe Women in Mines and Mining Development Trust, the European Union, Mthandazo Women in Mining, media fraternity, PACT, Parliament of Zimbabwe, representatives from mining affected communities, artisanal and small-scale miners, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, Zimbabwe Miners Federation, Zimbabwe Republic Police-Minerals Flora & Fauna Unit and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association.