MUTARE- A local clergyman has warned government against unsustainable exploitation of natural resources in the face of rising inequalities saying it could trigger a Mozambique-like violent conflict.
Speaking at the Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba (PAMI) organized by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) local Reverend Abel Waiziwei of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) said rising inequalities should be addressed with urgency.
Early this year, Mozambique rebels briefly and destructively captured Palma, a hub for Mozambique’s burgeoning oil and gas industry, as poverty stricken locals teamed with Islamic leftists to rebel.
“This occurrence which sparked security fears around the region, should also concern the government as communities are currently left out of the mining value chain.
“We are sowing the seeds of disaster, if we are not careful we might end up with a Cabo Delgado in our own backyard,” said Waizei.
The clergyman called for mainstreaming of community inclusion in policy formulation to ensure reforms which limit tax incentives and ring fence mineral revenue proceeds for sustainable development.
He said policy reforms to ensure sustainable benefit sharing with communities in resource rich areas will have meaningful impact if communities are involved in the processes.
James Zingwi, who resides in Marange said the mining value chain is compromised by lack of inclusion of communities in decision making while they bear the brunt of operations.
“We need a strong community voice to the mining companies because the community is most affected by the mining activities,” he said.
Billian Matambo, an environmental activist castigated mining companies for operating with impunity despite the fact that communities grant a social license and extract their minerals without any benefit to the community.
“We don’t have power as communities, our rights are being violated by the mining companies. We want to be heard as the community to ensure that we also benefit as well as we are still wallowing in poverty while minerals are mined under our noses,” she said.