Locate National Interest in Resource Governance: CNRG

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Yvonne Muchaka and Blessing Manyere

HARARE – Countries endowed with natural resources are more susceptible to poverty, inequality ,corruption and dictatorship when compared to countries without much natural resources to talk about, Centre for Natural Resource Governance Director, Farai Maguwu has said.

Speaking to Journalists over natural resources governance in Zimbabwe, Maguwu said their organisation was started in a bid to locate the national interest in all natural resource decisions.

“Our main mission is to locate the national interest in all natural resource decisions made as well as to defend rights of communities affected by those decisions. Our vision is to see a country that equitably enjoys the benefits of its natural resource endowment without prejudicing future generations.” 

“Natural Resources Governance theme emerged after it became apparent that countries endowed with natural resources are more susceptible to poverty, inequality, corruption, dictatorships and even military coups when compared to those without much natural resources to talk about. 

“The Resource Curse theme came onto the scene in the early 90s – with a lot of focus on countries like Angola, DRC, Sierra Leone, Nigeria etc that experienced civil wars, bloodshed and coups – all due to abundance of natural resources. 

He added that Scholars and think tanks began debating how to cure the resource curse where upon improved Natural Resource Governance was put forward as a solution, with special focus on strengthening institutions so that natural resources are not personalized by the President of the Republic, Generals and rebel groups who may take advantage of weak institutions, public disgruntlement to capture natural resource and use the same to try and overthrow governments, thereby plunging countries into instability.

“Natural resources are a two edged sword – with responsible leadership they can propel a country into prosperity but if there is no disciplined, visionary leadership, these resources can destroy governance, service delivery vanish, rising inequality and more importantly, become an incentive for leaders to want to die in office,” Maguwu said.

Sadly in Zimbabwe, not much has improved despite a boom in the mining industry. Mining is a crucial part of Zimbabwe’s economy, making up over 60% of annual foreign currency receipts and 13% of GDP.

However, Maguwu mentioned that they have not yet achieved their vision but they have managed to raise awareness and build national consensus that our national resources should be managed  better and that there is something wrong with how the decision regarding natural resources governance are made.

“What we have achieved so far is to raise awareness and build national consensus that our natural resources should be managed better, that there is something foundationally wrong with how decisions are made regarding our natural resource governance. We have criss crossed the country, doing workshops in homes, under trees, in community halls etc driving the point home that the resources belong to you and you must demand a share. It hasnot been easy, it has taken more than 10 years to get to a point where we feel Zimbabweans are becoming bold in challenging resource looting.

“Organized crime like resource looting is something similar to other societal vices like terrorism or drug smuggling. It’s dangerous crime which, once one is inducted into it, you can’t workshop them out of a lifestyle of crime. It makes one rich without producing anything. They are ready to defend their ‘privilege’ with anything – societal vices,” he highlighted.

Maguwu added that there is need for very strong public pressure to stop resource looting and that people must show complete disgust and rejection of the practice.

“There must be consequences to those who commit such crimes. We must relate resource looting to our decaying hospitals without drugs, ambulances, beds etc. We must connect resource looting to our shameful roads, lack of water, electricity etc.

“Once this connection is made clear, we must demand that those in high offices account for our resources.”

Maguwu mentioned that they responded mostly to calls from communities in distress to which they go and  assess the situation and come up with a  plan of action. 

“We do workshops to understand what is going on, sometimes we engage other CSOs that specialize in other issues that can be of help. For instance, in Dinde in Matabeleland, we  brought some lawyers to the community and brought a CSO that specialise in petition writing. We assisted the community petition parliament, resulting in parliament visiting the area,” he added. 

“Resistance is a negotiation tactic. In Marange they were told to leave, homes destroyed in their view by bull dozers, till now they got nothing. Saying we will not leave, as is the case in Sese now, gives them a greater chance of being compensated in the event they are forced to leave in the future. It is important to highlight that those forcing people to move without their consent are violating the Constitution,” he added. 

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