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Marange, Arda Transau and Penhalonga respond to unfavourable mining activities – launch Community Protocols

“We want government to revise the Communal Lands Act to allow us to own and mine minerals that are in our homesteads.”

By Business Reporter

HARARE – (Mining Index) – AFTER facing challenges from commercial mining in their communities, Penhalonga, Marange and ARDA Transau have launched Community Protocols (CPs) advocating for sustainable use of biodiversity, setting out concerns and priorities to ensure respect for community rights and dignity.

The people of Marange and those displaced to Arda Transau and the Penhalonga community came up with CPs with guidance from Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) and Natural Resources – Lawyers for Communities and the Environment, in which they urged government to accept CPs as they represent the will of the people in protecting their culture, land and biodiversity.

Community Protocols articulate community-determined values, procedures and priorities by setting out rights and responsibilities under customary, state and international law as the basis for engaging external stakeholders.

Lovemore Mukwada of Marange said Bio-Cultural Community Protocol (BCP) is the adopted standard to be followed by investors seeking to invest in their community. “These are a guideline to investors to avoid violation of resident’s rights.”

Viewed as a legal empowerment tool, the Penhalonga, Marange and Arda Transau communities formulated CPs following forced relocations of the original inhabitants of Marange to pave way for commercial diamond mining in the Chiadzwa area in 2010.

One of the community consultative meetings held in Marange

Penhalonga, Marange and Arda Transau have adopted CPs as a catalyst for constructive and proactive responses to threats and opportunities posed by land resource development, conservation, research and other legal and policy frameworks.

Myness Matanda, one of the people who led development of the Marange and Arda Transau community protocol was not enthused by the recent announcement and approval by cabinet to allow only four companies to mine diamonds in the country, after they had hoped government will legalise operations of small scale diamond miners, as in the case with gold.

Matanda advocated for the revision of the Mines and Minerals Act and the Communal Lands Act to allow for communal residents to own minerals that are within proximity of their homesteads to allow economic empowerment of rural communities.

“We want government to revise the Communal Lands Act to allow us to own and mine minerals that are in our homesteads,” said Matanda.

Thousands of families were relocated from Marange to the ARDA Transau, with little compensation.

CNRG Executive Director Farai Maguwu said there has been a rise in search of minerals, loss of land, environmental degradation and super exploitation of community wealth by companies and ruling elites, which has invoked communities to find ways to protect themselves, through formulation of CPs.

The Penhalonga community was forced to come up with their own CP after mining activities at Redwing mine and DTZ OZGEO, a joint venture between Development Trust of Zimbabwe and Russia’s Econedra Limited posed serious health hazards to the Penhalonga community through dug out ditches which have become death traps due to lack of environmental rehabilitation programs by the mine.

Land pollution in Penhalonga

Maguwu called on mining companies to rehabilitate areas of operation to curb avoidable misfortunes.

“I am yet to see a mining company in Zimbabwe that has practiced environmental rehabilitation for sustainable ecological development of the area,” said Maguwu. ENDS//

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