As part of concerted efforts to boost Zimbabwe’s economic growth through the mining sector, government has been urged to come up with policies that decriminalize artisanal mining.
Speaking during a post Zimbabwe Alternate Mining Indaba (ZAMI) briefing in the capital, Zimbabwe Environment Lawyers Association (ZELA) Legal Researcher, Nyaradzo Mutonhori said government must prioritize artisanal mining as it plays a pivotal role in economic development.
“As a country, it is high time we take cognoscente of the fact that artisanal mining plays a critical role in the development of the country. There is much revenue being realized from this little liked mining sector but it does not benefit the economy because of stringent laws that forbid the practice,
“It has largely remained a neglected part in the mining industry. Too often artisanal miners face discrimination as they are called makorokoza. However, that term is derogatory as they tend to face backlash even from the government and they end up getting arrested,” said Mutonhori.
Mutonhori added that a Mines and Minerals (Amendment) Bill now in parliament, seeks to decriminalize artisanal mining to ensure their inclusion in national building.
She said artisanal mining contributes immensely to women’s empowerment as the majority of the miners are women who eke out a living from their mining activities.
Turning to relationship between mining and climate change, Mutonhori said a legal framework must be in place to monitor and regulate the activities of artisanal miners so that it becomes mandatory for them to assist local host communities to adapt to the effects of climate change.
“Climate change should be integrated into campaigns around mining and natural resource governance while focusing on how mining can contribute to impact mitigation,” said Mutonhori.