24 May 2012

Zimbabwe: NGOs Call for Wealth Fund

Non-Governmental organisations in Zimbabwe have called on Government to urgently establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund as back-up when diamonds have been exhausted. Dr Cephas Zinhumwe, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, made the plea during a one-day workshop on Zimbabwe Diamonds and the Kimberley Process: Building National Consensus and International Credibility at a city hotel.

"Government needs to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund . . . Diamonds are a finite resource and we must plan for the future when these minerals run out," Dr Zinhumwe said in his presentation.

He said Government should also ensure that it invests in a fund that can back up communities and the State long after the gems have been exhausted.

On mining sustainability, he said as civil society they have a duty to ensure improved transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.

"Full compliance with international initiatives around the diamond industry such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and ensuring mining sustainability," Dr Zinhumwe said.

Government was also urged to put in place a comprehensive policy and legal framework governing the diamond mining sector which is not covered under the current Minerals Act.

NGOs also called the need to fully respect not only economic, social and cultural rights, but also individual rights of communities affected by mining. The association urged mining companies to take responsibility in ensuring protection of the environment in the long term.

The workshop was organised by the Centre for Research and Development to allow stakeholders to share ideas and come up with a way forward.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the media, European Commission, Lawyers for Human Rights and the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust, among others.

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