The replication of mining related challenges in African communities is a setback that always suppress Africa’s populace negatively in developmental issues. The exclusion of affected community voices in the EIA process is a time bomb that is two seconds away from exploding. Different civic society organizations are working tirelessly hand in hand to close the gap between laws and justice. The two day workshop hosted by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in Johannesburg S.A on the 20th and 21st of June 2018 revealed all the missing pieces on the environmental protection puzzle.
Mr Bobby Marie of Benchmarks said the exclusion of affected community voices from mining related issues pushed Benchmarks to start a now 3year old program on community participation in fighting for environment. Teaching mining affected communities regionally how to monitor and report impacts using technology and networks that are already there.The publication of the book “WE ARE ACTIVISTS” in 2017 was a success. The launching of the Tunatazama platform empowered communities with new diversity on bringing the distanced governments to the affected majority’s concerns. Tunatazama is a broad platform were by anyone from the community can report any mine related incident ,with the aid of pictures as evidence. The stories are shared on whatsup groups and Tunatazama blog. The platform is a bond that brings unity of purpose and solutions to Southern African mining affected communities. Mr Marie said the strength of Tunatazama lies not in technology but in what community voices say.
Ms Sally Maguwu an officer from EMA which is a regulatory authority in Zimbabwe said EIA is a mandatory obligation in every country. She encouraged communities to be on the watch for the ideal EIAs that support sustainable development. An EIA must include a project description whereby negative impacts must not outweigh positive gains. The methodology is contacting wat is called a prospectus followed by public consultations are done whereby affected communities rightfully participate. However she said due to ignorance most communities turn a blind eye to baseline environmental issues which are the physical and biological environmental conditions. Just like the Zimbabwe scenarios ,Ms Nomonde of South Africa admitted that the EIA process has a lot of loopholes that are manupalative and support the exclusion of affected community voices. Everything is politicised with a lot of complications.
A lawyer at Centre for Environmental Rights ,Mr Matome Kapa said the war between law and practices its a pandemic affecting Africa as a whole. The strive to shift dominant structures its every nation’s obligation. He said as an organization they are advocating for Environmental courts which will criminalize environmental perpetrators and this will inevite achievement in environmental justice using the legal framework.
EcoGender from Mozambique, an organization that focuses on local governance of minerals, citizenship and political participation, represented by Ms Kate Antonio said they have created Transparency Mozambique network which promote learning through the exchange of experiences. Its so sad that the Mozambique government and Vale mining company are demanding technical evidence that underpin the mine for causing pollutions and cracking houses. She said they are now using seismographs and drones to detect the impacts of vibration and noise. EcoGender is action oriented and they have taught affected communities to use scorecards, radio debates, resources mapping e.t.c
As we might think that its only Africa affected by environmental degradation syndrome, surprisingly taking two steps further into India an organization called NAMATI is fighting e same battle. As shared by Ms Kanchi Kohli director of legal research ,she said in India they are using what she call groundtruthing for evidence building. Also using resource mapping, photographs official documents and satellite pictures. Also training of paralegals from affected communities as third part monitors and they are demanding legal recognition as per the law.
Its of no use raising challenges without mapping the way forward. Thus we listed a number of resolutions,
1 There must be legal balance between Agriculture and mining (we need reduction of the dutch desease )
2 We must have the people’s EIA (offered to project proponents by the community)
3 Environmental courts- enforcement of environmental laws and criminalisation of environmental perpetrators.
4 Uniformity of laws regionally which are favourable to affected communities including economic beneficiation
5 building community resistance and use of scorecards
6 training minors on biodiversity and groundtruthing
From the voice of the community I say ALUTA CONTINUA
compiled by Billian Matambo Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU)