Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Zimbabwe Coordinator Mukasiri Sibanda has called on civil society organizations to equip communities with data literacy skills to bridge the information gap that has seen most communities lose out on natural resources found in their areas.
Sibanda believes access to data can assist communities to speak with a bolder voice and demand for accountability from duty bearers.
“Civic Society Organizations face a challenge of dragging along uninformed communities in their advocacy initiatives and bridging this information gap is one of their foremost challenges,” said Sibanda.
He added that civil society should empower communities not only with information but skills and resources for them to demand accountability and beneficiation from mineral resources found in their community.
“By actually accessing open data like the Auditor General’s 2015 report on Local Authorities, communities are questioning why diamond revenue issues are silent when it is well known that revenue from the gems has not been clear,” said Sibanda.
Malvern Mudiwa from Marange Development Trust, a community based organization reckons that data extraction skills improves their understanding of issues.
“Access to data like the Auditor General’s 2015 report on Local Government and the Mutare Rural District Council budget statements showed us gaps it terms of diamond revenue as both were silent.
“For us to access such open data it has been through exposure to the data extractors program that has sharpened our appetite to use data to enhance our advocacy work,” said Mudiwa.
Dean Kusena a resident of Chiadzwa who is also part of the community data extractors, is worried about the cost of diamond mining to the communities.
Kusena seeks to interrogate data on the provisions of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) which are not accessible is difficult for communities to monitor, he wants this to be publicly available and accessible.
“I want access to data on the environmental obligations of mining companies and through this data extractors training as communities we can frame our advocacy to demand from government and EMA tangible actions to enforce EIAs,” said Kusena.
Claris Madhuku of Platform for Youth Development (PYD), based in Chipinge, seeks access to mining contracts to assess whether they are good for socio-economic development, since this information is not publicly available.
Opaque tender processes of the extractive sector have opened avenues for elite capture thereby acting as a barrier to community development.
Under the new framework a company that retains 75% of its gross revenue locally does not to cede 51% to locals, as it is deemed compliant.