Raising the Community Voice in the Extractive Sector: Government Laxity over the Deteriorating State of Affairs in the Diamond Mining Manicaland Province Raises Eyebrows
The level of deterioration of the diamond industry of Manicaland Province deeply concerns the Centre for Research and Development. The government has been an active partner since commencement of formal mining operations in 2009. Events in the last 7 months have seen massive job losses, arbitrary salary cuts and employees working without salaries in Marange diamond mining operations. Many of the retrenched workers have not yet received their severance packages. Faced with mounting salary arrears and the dangers of labour court challenges from their employees some mining companies have reportedly duped workers to sign “statement of account arrears” documents to ensure that workers continue to provide labour without salaries. A scenario where workers continue to work for such a long period without receiving income at an alluvial diamond mining company is an unusual practice in the diamond industry and stands in breach of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01] and all other progressive laws that we have ratified as a nation. This desperate situation should immediately invite prompt government intervention unless government is a willing participant to this charade. The government has a controlling stake in companies mining diamonds in Marange and is bound by the constitution to ensure that mining operations are governed by accepted standards and values of good corporate governance. The state of affairs in Marange warrants government to immediately take legislative measures to uphold the spirit and letter of our constitution and laws, promote these values and protect human rights. Sadly the government has not been forthcoming. Recommendations made in 2013 by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to promote sustainable diamond mining in Marange have largely been ignored by the state’s executive arm. We also note with concern the absence of a representative, coordinated and recognized union which can actively broker this impasse.