By Byron Zamasiya and Mukasiri Sibanda
To better track impact of capacity building work with Parliament on promoting transparency and accountability in the mining sector, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) jointly agreed with Parliament of Zimbabwe to come up with performance targets. This was agreed during a workshop facilitated by ZELA on Mining Fiscal Transparency and Beneficial Disclosure on Wednesday, 26 February 2020, at a local Hotel in Harare.
Participants included; the Registrar of Companies, legislators from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Mines and Mining Development, and the Budget Finance and Economic Development, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), representatives from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Media, and Civil Society Coalitions.
In this update, we focus on the action plans that emerged from the workshop, with special emphasis on engaging Parliament to promote mining fiscal transparency and accountability.
CSOs are doing a tremendous job in building the capacity of Parliamentarians, therefore it is critical that they conduct performance appraisals to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of their interventions on the work being undertaken by legislators. To achieve this, the following points must be taken into consideration;
- Parliament Portfolio Committees (PPCs) to share their workplans with CSOs
- PPCs on Mines to share quarterly performance reports provided by Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
- A retreat is required to ensure that performance targets are jointly set out and performance enablers are enhanced.
In the interest of harvesting the low hanging fruits, it was discussed and agreed that the following issues must be raised in Parliament by members of the Portfolio Committee on Mines before the end of March 2020;
- Progress on implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Government, in 2019, revived its interest in joining EITI, a global standard that seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mineral sectors. In case government is not keen on implementing EITI, legislators must push government to undertake piecemeal mining sector transparency reforms as required by the Constitution. For example, an Act of Parliament is required to guide negotiation and performance of mining agreemens (Section 315 (2) (c) to promote transparency, host, cost effectiveness and competitiveness.
- Clear milestones are required for the computerization of the mining cadastre. Points to consider: How can a government that seeks to achieve US$12 billion annual earnings from the mining sector by 2023 fail to provide US$2 million for the modernization of the mining cadastre? Foreign currency shortages cannot be used as an excuse because over 60 cents per every dollar generated from exports comes from the mining sector. It is therefore imperative that Government ploughs back foreign currency earned from mining into infrastructure development which enhances the performance of the mining sector like the mining cadastre. Legislators can go a step further to check foreign currency expenditures by government especially foreign trip to make a case for poor prioritization.
- Monitor whether financial statements and annual reports for mining State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have been submitted within two months after the end of each financial year to the OAG as required by the Public Financial Management Act (Section 49). Parliament must not wait for OAG’s report which must be produced within six months after the end of each financial year to sift information on which SOE has defaulted on timely submission of annual reports for audit.
- Performance appraisal of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) is necessary. Legislators must ask the Minister to submit a register of EPOs, with progress reports evaluated against agreed plans.
Aside from the targets set for legislators, the following action points targeted at CSOs were agreed;
- Legal advice on implementation of the “use it or lose it” principle under the current Mines and Minerals Act is need.
- Engage Parliamentarians on social media or through physical meetings to support them as they prepare for Wednesday Parliament sitting, caucas meetings and ask pointed questions on mining governance issues.
- CSOs must build the capacity of the committee members to scrutinize and hold the Ministry accountable based on quarterly performance reports submitted to Parliament.
A perfect tone was set by Honourable Anele Ndebele immediately after the end of the workshop. Speaking in Parliament, Hon Anele Ndebele raised questions on transparency and accountability related to EPOs.
“… I notice the Deputy Minister of Mines is here present. It is a fact that we are all aspiring towards a US12 billion per year annual budget from mining sector. I therefore wish to invite the Minister of Mines to bring to this house an update on mining sector performance. Secondly, I wish that the Minister on the same day to bring register of all EPOs by area in this country and also make an indication of the companies that are involved in the EPOs. Finally Mr Speaker, the law so demands that at least every six months, we must have a record of how the EPOs are performing ….. we need to track how they are performing