BULAWAYO– The African Development Bank will bankroll research into contracts signed by investors, in a revolutionary project which aims to promote contract disclosure in the murky but lucrative mining sector.
Chairperson of the Mines and Minerals Development portfolio committee Edmund Mukaratigwa revealed that this groundbreaking initiative will roll out from this year to until the year 2023.
Speaking to delegates at a Publish What You Pay (PWYP) side session on transparency and accountability, at the ongoing Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) organized by ZELA and partners, he said the project will capacitate parliament.
He said the tax and accountability enhancement project is cognizant of the fact that there are rampant illicit financial flows in the extractive sector global value chain, which calls for greater transparency and accountability.
Mukaratigwa said through findings of the research on nature of contracts signed by corporates in the mining sector, parliament will provide necessary recommendations to review of contract policies.
“The project the Tax and Accountability Enhancement Project (TAEP) targets at equipping Parliament and communities with capacity to understand contracts signed between government and investors.
“In many cases communities have no access to information on contracts signed by government and mining companies, thus they fail to hold them to account for lack of compliance,” said Mukaratigwa.
“The TAEP project will commission a research aimed at promoting contract disclosure and contract transparency, this research will be conducted by consultants sponsored and appointed by ADB.
“Once this is done it will enable implementation on contract transparency it will also enable parliamentarians to identify gaps that may be visible and come up with interventions,” he said.
Mukaratigwa added that the mining sector despite providing a low hanging fruit for sustainable economic development, improvement of social service delivery, cannot drive development without communities accessing information.
“It’s not a secret that the sector is a source of illicit financial flows the world over. We should be looking at benchmarking some of these cases which have been a serious problems to other countries but have been addressed in ways we can also appreciate.
“This will help provide a guide for the roadmap that we want to take as a country. Strategies that are not binding endorsed by international community, IFI like the EITI guiding behavior of communities companies and responsible authorities.
“When there is disclosure there is accountability and hope for transparency in the mining sector,” said Mukaratigwa.
Chairperson of the Budget Finance portfolio committee, Felix Mhona said while there are provisions that already enhance transparency and accountability there was a lack of political will to implement these progressive provision.
Mhona said civil society organisations should keep pushing with their advocacy efforts, produce imperial evidence through research to ensure that parliamentarians can flag gaps for policy review.
“It is evident that from the research findings of ZELA, we have a plethora of legislations and policies that promote transparency and accountability there is a missing link in terms of implementation,” said Mhona.
Publish What You Pay (PWYP), Zimbabwe coordinator Joyce Machiri said such programs are welcome as they dovetail with CSOs efforts to promote transparency and accountability to ensure communities benefit from the mining sector.
She said without transparency and accountability, communities bear the brunt of human rights impacts of mining investments while failing to benefit from revenue from mining activities.
“Our work as PWYP is to enhance advocacy for communities’ participation in revenue generation and distribution so that they benefit meaningfully from natural resources extraction,” she said.
PWYP Zimbabwe is part of an international coalition of more than 800 civil society organisations calling for transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.
The ADB is a regional multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development of African countries that are the institution’s regional member countries, including Zimbabwe.