Care for Nature Zambia Executive Director Nsama Kearns (Centre) Comrade (Cde.) Edward Lange (far right) picture by Today Zambia Newspaper (TZN)
By Derrick Sinjela
Southern African Resource Watch (SARW) Senior Research and Advocacy Officer, Edward Lange says the SARW Tool Kit for Effective and Sustainable Community Participation Grievance Redress Mechanism and Environmental Justice Financing in Mining Projects guarantee mediation among investors and host mining areas in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Speaking at the just concluded Tuesday, 29th-Wednesday 30th August 2023 Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) themed: “Strengthened critical minerals governance in the energy transition era in Zambia for all Zambians,” Mr. Lange explained that the instrument will benefit quicker resolution of conflict in mining areas.
The 2023 ZAMI was opened and closed by Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development (MoMMD), Director Tobias Musonda, representing Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe and Permanent Secretary, Dr. Hapenga Monty Kabeta respectively.
And Care for Nature Zambia Executive Director Nsama Kearns is worried on the noted high level of child abuse in most mining areas across the country’s 116 districts of the ten (10) Provinces; Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Muchinga, Northern, North-Western, Southern and Western.
“Children must not take part in any mining activities as it is illegal and a violation of their human rights. I want views of children to be included to promote and protect the welfare of children in all mining areas in Zambia,” prayed Ms. Kearns within earshot of CNZ, Media Network for Child Rights and Development (MNCRD) and Zambian Children Young People and Women in Development (ZCYPWD) members.
Designed to offer a non-judicial grievance resolution mechanism, the tool kit represents a significant advancement in empowering communities affected by mining operations. These communities, which bear the brunt of environmental and social consequences, now have a platform to voice their concerns and seek redress.
During the panel discussion at the Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba in Lusaka, Mr. Lange emphasized the importance of enabling mining communities to address their grievances directly.
By providing tools to these communities, SARW aims to empower them by acknowledging their expertise and understanding of the challenges they face. To assess the effectiveness of the tool kit, SARW conducted trials in mining areas such as Shibuyunji District and the Copperbelt Province.
The tool kits have shown promising results in Shibuyunji, where community participation has been more successful compared to the politically charged and well-established mining areas of the Copperbelt.
This prompted SARW to focus its efforts on Shibuyunji, where they could work directly with the community to establish a community-led mechanism.
Comrade Lange cited absence of local authorities in central government operations in mining areas.
To bridge this gap, SARW facilitated the creation of a community-led mechanism chaired by the Council Chairperson and involving various stakeholders.
This mechanism ensures that grievances are channeled through local establishments, providing a proper platform for community engagement and resolution.
The implications of SARW’s Tool Kit extend beyond Shibuyunji District and the Copperbelt. Its potential impact is significant for the numerous mining communities across Southern Africa.
He said by offering a framework for effective community participation and a means to address grievances, the tool kit equips communities with the knowledge and resources needed to defend their rights and advocate for fairness in the mining sector.
As SARW encourages individuals in mining communities to seek assistance, it invites communities to recognize their rights and actively engage in seeking justice.
The tool kit serves as a valuable resource and guide, empowering communities to navigate the complex realities of mining operations and assert their rights.
Ultimately, the introduction of this tool kit signifies a positive step toward promoting environmental justice, sustainable mining practices, and community empowerment in the mining sector throughout Southern Africa.
It is a catalyst for change and offers hope for a better future for mining communities.
Lange says the mining tool kit will enhance effectiveness and sustainability of community participation, grievance redness mechanism and environmental justice financing in mining projects in Zambia.
ZAMI crusaders and the Zambian Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources held a two-day 29-30 August 2023 Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba at Mulungushi International Conference Center (MICC) on Lusaka’s Great East Road.