BY VENERANDA LANGA
GOVERNMENT has to date not joined the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) which promotes accountability in natural resources governance and enhances transparency.
This was revealed by Transparency International-Zimbabwe (TI-Z) in a recent report on natural resources governance.
Finance minister in Mthuli Ncube in his 2019 national budget statement promised that the country would join EITI in order to adopt best practices in management of the country’s natural resources and enhancing transparency and accountability.
But the TIZ said, sadly, these pronunciations by Ncube had not yet been implemented.
Twenty-four African countries out of a membership of 54 are said to have joined the EITI, which was established as a global standard to promote the open and accountable management of natural resources including minerals.
“This has affected citizen participation in mineral resource management and explains the varying and unresolved conflicts between government, mining companies and citizens,” the TI-Z said.
“On the other hand, without frameworks for public disclosure of contracts and tax payments paid by mining companies and those received by the government, the fight against illicit financial flows (IFFs) and corruption in particular remains a challenge.”
EITI has standards that require disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction, to how revenues make their way through government coffers, and how they benefit citizens.
TI-Z said as a result, the lack of transparency and accountability in the mining sector had resulted in the State’s limited ability to optimise the mineral resource endowments.
The anti-corruption watchdog said transparency in the extractive sector remained a major drawback in Zimbabwe’s extractive industry, despite constitutional provisions to access to information, transparency and accountability resulting in a lot of opacity in the mineral value chain form decisions to extract to revenue management.
“EITI encourages public participation and enables citizens to hold mining companies accountable for human and environmental rights violations or noncompliance. It promotes fair competition between firms and mitigates corruption risks during licensing, contract awarding, and auctions, by reducing information asymmetry and by extension ensuring the credibility of government negotiations.”
TI-Z said contract transparency also enables citizens to hold government accountable for revenue collection in royalties, licences, taxes and expenditure. It said it also strengthens public and corporate governance.
The watchdog said there was need for contract transparency to empower citizens, particularly communities in mining areas to hold government to account for natural resources and thus reduce corruption in the extractive sector.
“TI-Z implores the government to adopt provisions that provide for contract disclosure and online registration of contracts in the proposed Mines and Minerals Bill. Government should expedite the adoption and implementation of the mining cadastre which will help in the generation of reliable information including mining titles, beneficial ownership, and mining contracts registries,” TI-Z said.
It said the Mines and Minerals Bill must provide for Parliamentary oversight of mining contracts in line with section 315(2)(c) of the Constitution to ensure transparency and accountability in the negotiation of mining contracts.