From time to time, our blog will feature IRMA Member organizations, allowing them to explain, in their own words, their interest in forwarding more responsible mining and why they are engaged with IRMA.

Below are responses from Fadzai Midzi, Programmes Assistant, ZELA

What is the mission and primary work of ZELA?

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) exists to promote equitable, just, and sustainable environmental and natural resources management and protection of marginalised communities and citizens in Southern Africa. ZELA is motivated by a strategic mandate to influence mineral resource governance to ensure that communities benefit from exploitation of natural resource. Our, our work is mainly based on legal, policy reforms, partnership building, implementation and participatory research, impact and strategic litigation and movements such as the Publish What You Pay Coalition, that ZELA coordinates.

How did you become engaged with IRMA?

ZELA believes in partnership building locally, regionally, and international. In driving the mission, ZELA has collaborated with likeminded organisations including chairing platforms such as the Alternative Mining Indaba and the Kimberly Process – Civil Society Coalition. Through such platforms, ZELA learnt the value of being affiliated to the IRMA, whose mission is linked with that of ZELA, that is to protect people and the environment directly affected by mining. Thus, ZELA decided to engage and learn from IRMA whose value cannot be overemphasized.

The engagement started in 2019, when UNKI Mine was undergoing its audit certification process. IRMA came into the country when the Zimbabwean government had expressed interest to adopt and implement the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), a globally recognised standard on promoting transparency and accountability in the extractives sector.

Through Unki Mine, IRMA proved that disclosure in mineral exploitation is possible. When the Unki Mine IRMA audit report came out, ZELA managed to raise community awareness on the report, as a way of encouraging grassroot level participation of marginalised communities in development of correctional action plans, in response to the audit. In 2021, ZELA joined IRMA and the organisation has been advocating for adoption of the IRMA audit tool, in Zimbabwe.

Are you finding value in having an IRMA audit report on the performance of a mine in your region?

  • IRMA has ignited our work which is mainly based on evidential rigor to influence better natural resource reforms.
  • We acknowledge the usefulness of the IRMA audit report information helping us to improve our engagements through evidence gathering and access to information provided by the audit reports on mining operations and their impact on communities’ wellbeing, rights, and the environment.
  • The IRMA audit report also informs in carrying out advocacy work during national, regional, and international dialogue processes such as the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) and the Kimberly Process-Certification Civil Society Coalition
  • The IRMA audit tools help to bring out and plug some of the governance gaps for mining companies, for instance that was noted through the UNKI Mine audit.

What more or different would be helpful to you in your work to drive more responsible practices where mining is happening?

What would be helpful to our work is to have more companies adopt IRMA in Zimbabwe, to prove that the private sector has the capacity to be transparent and promote good governance in natural resource governance. Hopefully, that should encourage government to also take interest in utilising the audit tool for state owned enterprises. Partnerships with other IRMA members, and cross pollination of ideas with other IRMA members, contributes to advocacy for responsible mining.

For more information:
Visit the ZELA website