Article: ZELA hosts workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility & Business and Human Rights
Article: For Immediate Circulation
ZELA HOSTS WORKSHOP ON CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
AND BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
3 April 2014
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) hosted 28 small-scale
miners, community members, media, and representatives of the
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) as well as members of civil
society and labor unions in a one-day workshop on Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) and Business and Human Rights in Mutare on the 31st
of March 2014.
The overall objective of the workshop as shared by ZELA’s Legal Officer
Veronica Zano, was to enable business, civil society organisations and
communities to dialogue on the concept of CSR and business and human
CSR has gained prominence worldwide in the last 15 years as a result of
increased globalization, greater access to information, and growing social,
environmental and consumer expectations regarding business. It is defined as
the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to
economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and
their families as well as the local community where they are operating and
society at large.
During the workshop, most of the community members expressed displeasure
in the way that mining companies where operating in their areas with most
citing that they take complete disregard of communities.
“We feel that companies are giving us a raw deal as they are not investing
enough towards the communities that they operate in”, said Mr Tagwirei a
representative of the Mutoko North Community Development Trust.
Unfortunately, the large-scale mining companies were not available to share
their perspective although ZELA had made frantic efforts to invite them to be
part of this gathering.
Mutuso Dhliwayo facilitating a discussion on business and human rights
Mutuso Dhliwayo the ZELA Director lamented the absence of mining
companies from this meeting. He noted “As civil society we have since
changed our confrontational approach and currently we are creating such
platforms for engagement not blame shifting because we understand that only
through engagements we are able to come up with progressive resolutions”
“We just hope that the mining companies will increasingly open up and be
more willing to participate in such platforms so that there is increased
conversation between them, the community and civil society as a way of
strengthening accountability, transparency and their understanding of
community issues” continued Dhliwayo.
The small mining companies who were represented during the workshop
spoke mainly on the challenges they are currently facing in investing in the
mining sector where they operate in the same environment with big multi-
national companies that have capital muscle to do more CSR initiatives unlike
them. They felt that government should do more to support the indigenisation
drive by supporting access to resources to invest in mining in the same
manner that farmers have been assisted in accessing resources.
Mr Bako a small-scale miner enquired, “what is the cost of promoting these
business and human rights to indigenous mining companies and how can we
(small scale miners) match the same standard that is expected from the big
Dhliwayo responded to this by outlining that it is imperative to ensure the
application of the same business and human rights practices across the board
regardless of the size of operations. Government as the overall duty bearer
should lead and demonstrate best practice and even go on to support
indigenous small-scale miners to better uphold these business and human
The concept of Business and Human Rights is premised on the notion that
business enterprises should respect human rights both in practice and
through policy commitments. Business and human rights due diligence
requires businesses to identify, mitigate and prevent adverse impacts of their
business related activities on human rights.
The Business and Human Rights concept has been given impetus by the
United Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which was adopted
by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011.
The UNGPs (UNGPs) operationalized the “Respect, Protect and Remedy”
Framework which was developed by Professor John Ruggie the former
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General.
One way which businesses can fulfill the respect principle is by carrying out
human rights due diligence to assess and address actual and potential human
rights impact and have processes that enable remediation.
The workshop indicated how mining activities have a potential to contribute to
the socio-economic growth of the country. However, despite the obvious
potential benefits of mining activities, the community members adjacent to
mining operations expressed concern on how mining companies are currently
violating their rights.
Speaking during the workshop Mrs Jena one of the community members
affected by mining operations in the Save region said that “It breaks our
hearts to see people from your own communities depositing raw sewage in
the Save river which they even know is our source of livelihoods simply
because they are following instructions of their employees and don’t want to
risk loosing their jobs”. Although pollution in the Save river has significantly
reduced it is still happening and it is posing a huge risk on the social and
economic welfare of the communities.
Continuing with the discussion, Dhliwayo reiterated that the objective of the
UNGPs is not to blame any stakeholder but for them to come together to
collectively find solutions to problems associated with mining activities. The
focus is on moving from conflict to resolution between mining companies,
communities and CSOs.
In one of the case stories shared during the
workshop, councilor Vuto from Zvishavane
expressed the positives that Murowa Diamonds
have brought to the community as a result of the
continued engagements they have had in priority
setting through clearly defining their ward plans.
In what is surely a good practice, Murowa
Diamonds has managed to create platforms for
community engagement by offering the community
a community liaison department whose role is to
identify how to redress community challenges that
are precipitated by their operations.
The community initiatives that have been
supported by Murowa span from the building of
schools and supporting them with books,
compensation on relocated families in an asset to asset arrangement where
people would have improved assets than what they had before relocation,
supporting local business initiatives such as companies that provide clothing
for the mine, supporting health facilities and medicines and empowering local
communities to start and manage different small to medium enterprises.
All the CSR work of the mine is documented in a newsletter called “Vangova
news” which is jointly developed with the community. This is one good way of
ensuring accountability and transparency of CSR initiatives that the company
Although some mining companies failed to participate, this workshop was
designed to offer an opportunity for communities from mining areas, CSOs
and companies to engage and understand how business and human rights
and corporate social responsibility can help ensure that there is economically,
socially and environmentally sustainable development.
A call was made that stakeholders should assist companies in putting in place
publicly accessible grievance redress mechanisms that demonstrate that they
are aware of, prevent and mitigate human rights violations.
Councilor Vuto explaining some
of the initiatives by Murowa
Speaking on Labour Rights In Zimbabwe’s Mining Sector, Mr Sunguro
emphaised on the need for people to form and maintain active workers’
unions that are not afraid to approach the mining companies and adress the
pertinent issues that ensure that rights of workers and the community at large
are observed. He went on to cite examples of how as Zimbabawe Diamond
Allied Workers’ Union (ZIDAWU they have engaged some mines who then
went on to review the policies and practices to ensure that they observe better
labour practices for their workers.
As a way forward ZELA agreed to compile a statement from the workshop
that they will share with mining companies and policy makers for their
considerations and start advocacy that is informed by the call of community
members for more legislation on CSR so that it does not remain a purely act
of “charity” by mining companies whilst at the same time develop better
practices of business and human rights that are influenced by the UNGPs by
contextualizing them to Zimbabwe and ensure that they become binding.
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