Having attended a one-day workshop on community data-driven advocacy facilitated by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) on the 7th of June 218, we noted that our country laws are very limited in terms of enforcing public transparency and accountability of funds generated from our local mineral resources in Gwanda district.
We have noted that we are getting more information on activities at Blanket gold mine through reports generated by its major shareholder Caledonia Limited under Canadian laws-Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA).
We noted that as an example, Blanket Mine paid over $466 322 in 2016 and $138, 762 as rural electrification levies and local taxes respectively.
In this regard, we are left with a task to follow up with Rural Electrification and the local authority to verify how much more is generated from our mineral resources and how much of it was spent within our district.
Under section13 (4) of the Constitution, the government is obliged to make sure that a significant amount of our resources is spent within our district.
As community-based organisations, it becomes imperative for us to initiate advocacy measures to ensure that our people have access to the information in order to demand accountability on how minerals are exploited for the benefit of all citizens.
We need to urgently approach the authorities to get as much data as possible and disseminate the information to our people to quickly make informed decisions on their mineral resources should be managed.
Many thanks to ZELA for the facilitation and looking forward to having further partnerships as we engage in the advocacy to gather the information and guide the community.
Whilst we applaud the Caledonia's ESTMA reports for bringing transparency to information-starved but resource-rich Zimbabweans, it is discouraging to note that the 2017 annual report has less information compared to the 2016 report. For instance, fees paid to rural electrification agency are missing.
In terms of development opportunities, $466,000 paid in 2016 can provide access to basic electricity through solar panels to more than 2,330 households at a cost of $200 per household.
Gwanda RDC received 168,888 from Blanket mine in 2016 and income per head amounts to $1.47 given that Gwanda rural has a population of 115,000. Blanket mine generated $69 762 000 in 2017, which means that the local authority got 0.24% as a share of total revenue generated by Blanket Mine. Clearly, revenue sharing mechanism between the national fiscus and subnational fiscus concerning mineral tax revenue hurts local development opportunities.