Zambia has a long history of mining but with little to show for it.
By Bellah Zulu
The Joint Country Programme (JCP) Zambia comprising Christian Aid, Norwegian Church Aid and DanChurch Aid has been working towards economic and gender justice since 2011, and even longer as independent organisations.
One area that is of importance tries to address the paradoxical question: Why should a country so rich in resources be so poor economically? In trying to answer the question and find solutions, JCP Zambia through the Resource Governance programme has partnered with key organisations including Caritas Zambia by supporting an important platform which they host, called Publish What You Pay (PWYP).
Influencing policy, supporting communities
PWYP is a coalition of organisations which has played a key role in influencing the legislative and policy framework governing the extractive industry by making use of evidence-based advocacy efforts. More specifically the PWYP coalition supports communities affected by mining, helping them to negotiate the best possible deal. It advocates for a more open and accountable industry.
“Some time back the extractive industry was marred with secrecy with a lot of shoddy deals being done between some politicians and the private sector,” said JCP’s Senior Programmes Coordinator for Resource Governance Mr. Felix Ngosa. “It was then that we started demanding to know what mining companies were producing and how much they were making.”
Mr. Ngosa said that PWYP has been supported by Norwegian Church Aid and JCP Zambia and puts pressure on mining companies to be more transparent and accountable in their dealings. “We have been supporting PWYP Zambia with an annual budget of about £53,000 for the last eight years,” he said.
However, he highlighted the need to strengthen advocacy in the extractive industry by establishing stronger international and regional links saying, “since mining companies are themselves international and usually compliant in their countries of origin and other western economies, why can’t they be the same here?”
The National Coordinator for PWYP Mr. Mtwalo Msoni, talked of some of some of the main challenges and what they hope to accomplish. “The biggest barrier in terms of collecting income from the mining activities has been the unclear policy intentions,” he said. “We have the Mines and Mineral Development Policy of 2013 which does not define how much we want to get from the mining sector.”
He added: “We want to see mining companies being more open about the cost of production and profits so that it informs government in their policy intentions and how much they can get from the mining sector.” He demanded more accountability and a fair share from the mining sector and that it’s used in a “proper manner to guarantee benefits for future generations.”