The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) on Tuesday urged Zimbabwe to sign up for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global programme that encourages countries to seek transparency and accountability in the extraction of diamonds and other precious minerals.
“We …recommend that Zimbabwe should join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which other countries are joining to ensure that revenue generated from mineral resources is known by the public. This is done by making mining contracts public and making mining companies accountable. The initiative seeks to promote accountability and transparency in the exploitation of natural resources,” ZELA said in a statement.
Zimbabwean controversial mining house Mbada Diamonds recently attracted international scrutiny after it airlifted diamonds from Chiadzwa for sale in Harare without monitoring by the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), police or any other authority in the country in a clear violation of the Kimberley Process (KP), which has called for maximum transparency at the notorious diamond field.
The unauthorized shipping of diamonds took place despite an agreement between the government and the KP that all shipments from all production sites in the Marange field will be “subject to examination and certification by a KP monitor prior to export to ensure that the production and export of rough diamonds is compliant with the minimum standards of the KP.”
The aborted sale raised concerns about Zimbabwe’s readiness to legally trade in the precious stones.
International rights groups have been pushing for a world ban on Zimbabwe diamonds until Harare acts to ensure mining at Chiadzwa is in full compliance with KP standards.
Observers say the benefits for implementing countries in the EITI include an improved investment climate by providing a clear signal to investors and international financial institutions that the government is committed to greater transparency. EITI also assists in strengthening accountability and good governance, as well as promoting greater economic and political stability. This, in turn, can contribute to the prevention of conflict based around the oil, mining and gas sectors.
Countries rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, and mining have tended to under-perform economically, have a higher incidence of conflict, and suffer from poor governance. These effects are not inevitable and it is hoped that by encouraging greater transparency in countries rich in these resources, some of the potential negative impacts can be mitigated.
Launched in 2002, the EITI is a multilateral, multi-stakeholder programme that seeks to improve the governance of the extractive sector globally. It seeks to do this principally through the joint publication of the payments made by companies to countries and the concomitant publication of the receipts of received by the respective country fiscus.
These payments and receipts are independently audited under the auspices of a multi-stakeholder committee. To date, some 30 countries have signed up as implementing countries to the EITI.. Of the 30 implementing countries, 21 are African.