By Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development
The call for the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) has been topical during the ongoing Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba that has been running from the 4th of October to today the 8th under the theme “Development Speaks: Amplifying Community Voices for improved accountability and transparency in natural resources governance in Zimbabwe”.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas, and mineral resources. It seeks to address the key governance issues in the extractive sectors.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implements the global standard to promote the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources.
The EITI Standard requires the disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction, to how revenues make their way through the government, and how they benefit the public. By doing so, the EITI seeks to strengthen public and corporate governance, promote understanding of natural resource management, and provide the data to inform reforms for greater transparency and accountability in the extractives sector.
To become an EITI implementing country, a country must complete five sign-up steps. These steps relate to the commitment of the government, company, and civil society engagement, the establishment of a multi-stakeholder group, and agreement on an EITI work plan.
At the ZAMI, presenter after presenter profiled how Zimbabwe is endowed with a wide variety of valuable natural resources which if managed well has the potential to unlock sustainable socio-economic development.
Mining host communities lamented displacements, lack of development including poor public service delivery in their areas despite them being endowed with vast mineral resources and highlighted that this points out to poor governance of the extractive sector.
The Government of Zimbabwe’s ambitious vision of transforming the mining sector into a USD12 billion industry by 2023 is difficult to realise if the transparency challenges in the sector persist and as most speakers argued during the ZAMI 2021, the EITI presents a key entry point in addressing the transparency and accountability deficits in the sector.
Transparency and accountability remain the bedrock for unlocking the potential of the mining sector to transform the country’s economy.
According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Zimbabwe has been losing about $1.8billion of mineral revenues through smuggling. There is therefore urgent need to put in place decisive measures to plug the loopholes.
The Potential Benefits of EITI to Zimbabwe include addressing mining-related corruption; improving revenue collection and public service delivery; attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); promoting transparency and accountability in mineral revenue governance; helping the rebuilding of mining stakeholder’s trust in the government; preventing resource backed conflicts; strengthening CSOs and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) engagement with government and mining companies; and overall strengthening of democracy and good governance.
Besides the political intonations that EITI is a western agenda by some of the hardliners in government, there are also concerns that the current political, economic and legal environment is not ideal given the institutional weaknesses and global political pressures, such as smart sanctions, that make joining the EITI legally sound but politically imprudent.