International Women’s Day 2017- In pursuit of alternatives to destructive extractives in Zimbabwe

International Women’s Day 2017- In pursuit of alternatives to destructive extractives in Zimbabwe

The month of March holds a special place in my heart as women from different backgrounds converge in order to share their successes, assess their shortfalls and collectively seek ways to strengthen their voices against retrogressive forces that hinder their realization of their basic rights. However, women in mining communities have little to celebrate within the Zimbabwean context, given the ever increasing discrimination against women in the recruitment of workers, increasing incidences of violence against women, limited food security options, coupled with unwanted pregnancies from foreign mine workers and the need for developing realistic alternatives to the destructive mining practices. This year’s international women’s day’s broader theme ‘women in the changing world of work’ is a call for civil society, government ,donors and the private sector to reflect on the working conditions of women employed in extractive industries. Further, the global call for women to #BeBoldForChange is a rallying point for women and men to show solidarity with marginalised women in mining communities whose voices have been silenced by the harsh conditions in their contexts, as state machineries have not played their part in improving the living conditions of women in extractive industries. It is also a call for stakeholders to focus on changing the lives of women not only working in extractive industries but also those living close to the mining companies. The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) over the past two years engaged women leaders in the mining communities in the following districts (Bikita, Darwendale, Hwange, Penhalonga and Mutoko). Through support from Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA), CNRG managed to train over sixty women...
MARANGE: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN, WHERE THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

MARANGE: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN, WHERE THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

02 November 2016  Yesterday, 1 November 2016, more than 500 people gathered together in Marange, a vast diamond field stretching over 66,000 hectares in the east of Zimbabwe, near to the Mozambican border, to remember all those who lost their lives, lands and livelihoods in one among the saddest page of post-independence Zimbabwean history. Operation Hakudzokwi (in English: You Shall Not Return!) was a security crackdown conducted by the Zimbabwean army in late 2008, right after the discovery of rich diamond deposits in Chiadzwa, Marange, which led to the killing of over 400 artisanal miners, unleashed brutal violence against their women and children, forced families to be evicted from their ancestors lands and relocated away from their homes, disrupting their sense of belonging and depriving them of their traditional sources of livelihoods. In this way, the government seized Marange diamond field, and secure the control of its rich soil in the hands of the military which, since then, has conducted secretive and opaque deals with Chinese mining firms, looting local communities of their richness and ensuring little or no revenues to the State coffers. 8 years later, people are still suffering, they have been left with nothing and their demands for justice and compensation are still unaddressed. Impunity remains unrestrained and almost no one has been held accountable for the appalling human rights abuses which took place in Marange so far; misbehaviours and negligence from companies still continue today and are likely to continue for the rest of the mining lifecycle. Operation Hakudzokwi Commemoration, organised by Centre for Natural Resource Governance and Chiadzwa Community Development Trust, was primarily meant...
Women Artisanal Miners Join the Penhalonga Gold Rush

Women Artisanal Miners Join the Penhalonga Gold Rush

Gold and diamond panning has traditionally been associated with uncivil, fierce-looking men, with women often expected to perform more feminine roles. However, this widely shared societal perception has been debunked as over the years more women have joined the once male-dominated mining sector. Desperate to feed their families, it is a common sight in Penhalonga to observe artisanal female gold miners tapping into this once predominantly masculine working environment. Situated approximately 20 km from the mountainous town of Mutare, in the Eastern region close to the Mozambican border, Penhalonga is endowed with vast gold resources, with the majority of the gold belts owned by two Russian mining companies, Redwing Mine and DTZ-OZGEO. But breaking into the gold mining business alongside men is by far a stroll in the park for the women, who have in many cases revealed that the hostile working environment exposes them to various forms of abuses. Some have reported to have been raped, while others have been lured into prostitution as a way to maintain their claims in the mines. It is believed that only those with stronger political connections to the ruling ZANU PF party manage to get their share of gold. Furthermore, the situation is worsened by arbitrary arrests, harassments and physical assaults by the security officers guarding the mines to keep artisanal miners out. The fact that the security guards employed by the mining companies are often from the same communities as the artisanal miners further exacerbates tensions and rivalries in the Penhalonga community, sowing seeds of hatred as they feel betrayed by their own kith and kin. In an interview with...
CNRG goes to Brazil! Insights from the 13th AWID Forum

CNRG goes to Brazil! Insights from the 13th AWID Forum

  Bahia, Brazil, 8-11 September 2016 Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) was part of a Southern African delegation (with support from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa-OSISA) that participated at the 13th Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) held in Bahia, Brazil from the 8th to the 11th of September 2016. The theme of the forum was entitled ‘feminist futures: building collective power for rights and justice’. The overall goal of the forum was to celebrate the gains of the past 20 years by diverse social movements and critically analyse the lessons that could be carried forward. The event managed to bring together more than 1000 delegates from a broad diversity of movements and sectors who collectively strategized for feminist futures, from women’s rights and feminist movements, including Brazilian women’s rights activists, peace , economic justice , environment and human rights movements ,just to mention a few. More information are availble at www.awid.org. What was unique about this space was the active representation of marginalised communities such as young feminist activists, black and afro –descendant women, indigenous women, sex workers, women with disabilities, Trans and inter sex activists as well as migrant activists. The forum was organised through general panel discussions, side sessions and creative platforms where artists were able to express themselves through music, art and poetry. CNRG participated in specific side sessions which were hosted by AWID, where female human rights defenders were sharing their experiences – some had their rights violated by mine security officials, whilst defending their territories. The moving testimonies from the women human rights defenders from Latin America, Africa and South...
Neo-extractivism & the new scramble for African resources

Neo-extractivism & the new scramble for African resources

Reflections from the SADC People Summit 2016    N.B. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation   In our age of hypercapitalism, characterised by the unbridled expansion of consumerism, the spread of offshore financial centres and the growingly de-territorialised nature of economic actors, the so-called “paradox of plenty” appears to be an inescapable trap for naturally well-endowed countries in Africa. The global resource boom and the explosion of mining activities in the continent, almost totally controlled by transnational corporations (TNCs), is undoubtedly a lucrative business for greedy and aggressive companies which easily find their way into heavily corrupt countries, offering loose regulatory frameworks and consolidated neopatrimonial practices. The access to raw materials and natural resources has been progressively handled to TNCs over the past decades through the shortsighted and Western-centred imposition of what is known as the “Washington consensus”, a series of economic policy prescriptions, laid down by Washington based international financial institutions (IFIs), promoting unrestrained trade liberalisation and financial deregulation in highly indebted developing countries in the global South. Leaving aside the debate around the concept of “odious debt”, and the extent to which is it fair and just for the citizens of those countries to bear the burdens of loans from which they have received no benefits, is it however undeniable that the same international economic architecture, rooted in the neo-liberal dogma of perfect competition and the “invisible hand” of markets maximising common good, has offered the perfect shield for the neo-colonial scramble for natural resources in the South to be used for the prosperity and consumption of the...
Workshop on Alternative Poverty Reduction Strategy: Embarking Society in the Long Walk to Economic Recovery

Workshop on Alternative Poverty Reduction Strategy: Embarking Society in the Long Walk to Economic Recovery

On 4th August 2016, the Alternative Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) Workshop, organised by the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust, in collaboration with the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Harare. The aim of the meeting was to create a platform bringing together civil society organisations and the private sector to reflect on the on-going Poverty Reduction Strategy Process (PRSP) undertaken by the government, in order to ensure that the voice of Zimbabwean people is appropriately listened, through the development of a parallel, broad-based and participatory platform which yearns to fill the gaps left by the mainstream interim PRSP in terms of transparency and accountability. In order to fully re-engage with external donors and international financial institutions (IFIs), Zimbabwe is now in the process of planning a 2 years (2016-2018) Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, drafted on the basis of country-wide consultations with various stakeholders held between March and June 2016. This paper, whose development is one of the four criteria to be met in order to be considered eligible for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative assistance led by the World Bank, is expected to provide a guiding framework to engage in structural reforms aimed at reducing poverty and promoting economic growth across 5 overarching thematic areas, namely: 1) Social Services, Policies and Expenditures, 2) Agriculture Productivity, Growth and Rural Food Security and Nutrition 3) Private Sector 4) Environment and Climate Change, 5) Strengthening Governance and Institutional Capacity. The primary ambition is to address, in a more effective way, the...