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Lawyers worry over Mthuli Ncube silence

by Staff reporter
23 Jul 2020 at 20:27hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) has noted with concern the silence of the mid-term budget and economic review on the extractive industries transparency initiative (EITI) adoption progress, raising fears that the initiative might be off the country' mining governance policy radar.

EITI is a progressive initiative in the advancement of open and accountable management of the extractive industry.

In its mid-term budget and economic review analysis, Zela said the government continues to speak about transparency and accountability in the mining sector, but with no tangible actions on the ground as well as a framework to guide this.

The 2020 pre-budget strategy paper had recommended that the 2020 national budget should proffer specific steps on Zimbabwe joining the EITI as a way of enhancing transparency and curbing any corruption activities that may deter investment in the sector.

Zela said the 2020 national budget, however, only gave a light reference to the continued multistakeholder discussions on joining EITI.

"Zela did not lose hope because of the light touch that the government did on EITI during the 2020 national budget. What was important was that the government had at least maintained the EITI narrative in its 2019/2020 national budget," it said.

However, when presenting his mid-term budget and economic review last Thursday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube remained mum on the EITI issue.

"While the government has reiterated its commitments to anchor the US$12 billion mining strategy on mining policy and transparency reforms, there is no specific mention from the mid-term budget and economic review on EITI," Zela said.

"Zela would have expected to get an update from the government on the EITI stakeholder engagements that were referred to during the 2020 national budget. The silence of the government on EITI probably confirms further that the government is backtracking in terms of joining EITI.

"The reality that the country is confronted with is that EITI's adoption in Zimbabwe is dying a natural death. While the implementation of EITI has potential to bring a win-win situation between the government and the private sector, there seem to be huge fears on joining the standard."

The environmental lawyers said the development raised speculation that probably "it's out of fear that the standard would expose the rot and corruption in the mining sector, and this could be detrimental to the military and politicians holding government positions who have been alleged to be involved heavily in mineral exploration."

"There is a huge possibility that the government might not want to adopt EITI because it is afraid that it will expose the corruption and mining revenue mismanagement by political elites," Zela said.

However, it said all hope was not lost on the mining transparency policy front, with the government committing to improve transparency in the mining sector, something that resonates with the country's 2013 Constitution on public finance management principles.

Source - newsday