BY PRIDE MZARABANI
CIVIC Society groups have hailed the ban on exports of unprocessed granite through Statutory Instrument (SI) 127 of 2022 released this month.
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) and the Norwegian Church Aid Alliance Southern Africa feel that the beneficiation of granite will benefit communities such as those in Mutoko, which is well endowed with the natural resource.
SI 127 (2022) reads: “The export of unprocessed granite is hereby banned with immediate effect, except with the authorization of the minister (Mining) in writing. All those that will contravene or fail to comply with SI 127 shall be guilty of an offense and liable to a hefty fine not exceeding level nine (or twice the value of the base mineral) or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two (2) years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”
In a statement, Zimcodd said unsustainable extraction and exportation of raw granite rocks has been part of civic society discourse for decades without any positive responses from government.
They urged government to come up with legislation to curb massive
extraction of the country’s natural resources such as granite rock to avoid being trapped in ‘a natural resource curse’.
“This has been the case in Mutoko where foreign companies were massively extracting granite rocks causing deforestation and environmental degradation, a clear violation of Section 73 of the Zimbabwe Constitution that guarantees environmental rights to citizens. The mining companies are not investing in community development through their social corporate responsibility budgets,” read the Zimcodd statement.
“For instance, in 2020 Mutoko North had 43 schools comprising 25 Primary schools and 18 secondary schools. Of these 25 primary schools, 19 did not have access to water, and eight did not have electricity while three clinics in the constituency did not have running water. Despite engaging in environmentally unfriendly extraction, granite rock miners have also been subjected to unfair displacements from their ancestral land in order to pave for granite mining projects,” they said.
A recent report by the Zimbabwe Inequality Alliance also highlighted the plight of the Mutoko Community saying despite their granite resources mined for 50 years, there was no infrastructure to show for it.
“What the communities are left with is scattered rubble, environmental degradation, and cracked houses, decimation of livelihoods, loss of community aesthetic beauty through the destruction of mountains, and increased farmer, and miner conflicts. Mutoko is thus like any other mining host community in Zimbabwe which are living in poverty in a sea of plenty,” read the report.
The Norwegian Church Aid Alliance Southern Africa said SI 127 of 2022 was a significant milestone for granite mining communities.
“A long road but benefits will start to trickle down,” they said.