Continental, Regional and National Foundations to Mining Policy Development in Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Zimtrade

By Lyman Mlambo


Zimbabwe exists in a community of nations, and not in isolation. In the same vein, the mining sector in Zimbabwe exists in a wider context and so should its policy framework be consistent with that wider context. That would make the mining sector’s integration with the global economy and its response to global dynamics efficient and effective. There is a serious policy vacuum in the Zimbabwe mining sector, with the only existing policy being the Diamond Policy. The Government is in the process of developing its National Minerals Development Policy, the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Policy (ASGM) and the various mineral-specific policies. The reason for the last set of policies (mineral-specific policies) is that each mineral has its unique characteristics that need to be addressed in a unique way by a specific policy. A clear example is the vast difference in the characteristics and occurrences of hydrocarbons (like oil, natural gas and coal-bed methane gas) and those of precious metals or base metals. The exploration methods, mine development processes, extraction, processing, beneficiation, value addition and marketing processes (basically, the supply and value chains) are different.

Abstracting from the global visions and standards, there are continental and regional visions or frameworks to which Zimbabwe ascribes (or is signatory) which have a significant bearing on our mining policy discourse and development process. It would be disastrous in the 21st century global-village economy to be oblivious of the existence of these frameworks. Unfortunately, the experience of the author is that our policy makers do not take these higher frameworks seriously or are not really aware of their importance. The point is that the core principles of these higher visions should shepherd our own policy guiding principles, objectives, policy statements and strategies in the mining sector. Those core principles should cascade downwards from the content to SADC to Zimbabwe and even to sub-national levels when one considers the different tiers of governance and the devolution agenda. 

Continental Framework

At the continental level we have a general (non-mining specific) African continental vision, Agenda 2063 (The Africa We Want), which is a 50-year vision implemented on the basis of long-term, medium-term, and short-term rolling plans. The main objective of Agenda 2063 is to achieve, in the next 50 years, an equitable, citizen-driven, peaceful, people-centred, inclusive and integrated growth and sustainable development, by leveraging on the continent’s endowments, as well as by building on or accelerating the implementation of past and existing continental visions, initiatives and frameworks. Agenda 2063 then is an overarching vision for Africa.

Principles pertinent to the development of the Minerals Development Policy in Agenda 2063 include: (i) A prosperous Africa (where we have Africa, we can put ‘Zimbabwe’ where appropriate, to bring it home) based on inclusive growth and sustainable development (intra-generational equity that leaves no one behind, and inter-generational equity that takes into account the interests of future generations); (ii) An Africa characterized by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law (a permeation of robust political and judicial culture throughout the continent and hence throughout Zimbabwe); (iii) An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children (local empowerment, sensitive to special interest groups); (iv) An Africa that is a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner (in this case, it is crucial to envision Africa as one united continental player in the global market place); (v) Commitment by African countries to assess their performance towards the goals and take timely corrective measures where necessary (self-assessment as well as peer review and peer-monitored implementation of corrective measures); and (vi) Placing citizens first (a shared commitment to democracy by all African countries).

Along Agenda 2063 is a specific continental mining vision, the Africa Mining Vision (AMV).  It has six key tenets. These include: (i) Understanding of resource endowments (exploration); (ii) Optimal extraction of all finite resources (high-value and low-value minerals); (iii) Developing and leveraging on the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector (ASM formalization and diversification of rural livelihoods); (iv) Building of human and institutional capacities through human resource development (HRD) and research and development (R&D); (v) A mining sector that is fully integrated into the rest of the economy and hence contributes to the transformation of the economy (economic diversification and industrialization through linkages – a transformative agenda); and (vi) Sound resource governance (transparency and accountability). Thus, at a continental level, given the geological prospectivity of the continent, mining is among the key anchors for the development of the continent into a powerhouse relative to other continents.

Regional Framework

At the regional level we have SADC Vision 2050, which is a regionalization of the continental Agenda 2063. SADC Vision 2050, founded on the SADC Treaty and Agenda, envisages “a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle-to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice, and freedom” (SADC 2020, p.9) by 2050. SADC Vision 2050 is implemented by the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). RISDP 2020-2030 is some kind of a regional rolling plan. Pertinent in RISDP 2020-2030 are the following core principles/pillars: (i) Equity, balance, and mutual benefit; (ii) Good Governance; (iii) Industrial Development and Market Integration; (iv) Infrastructure Development in support of Regional Integration; (v) Social and Human Capital Development; and (vi) Cross-cutting issues (gender, youth, environment and climate change, and disaster risk management).

Specific to mining, at the regional level we have the SADC Mining Protocol, which is the foundational agreement or treaty among SADC member states which sets out principles and contents of cooperation on mining matters. The principles set forth in this protocol are quite pertinent to the development of Member States’ Minerals Development Policies and resonate well with the objectives of Agenda 2063, Africa Mining Vision, SADC Vision 2050 and RISDP 2020-2030. The most pertinent principles to the development of the Member States’ Minerals Development Policies are summarized in Article 2 General Principles 5-10. These six general principles speak to the need for: (i) human resource development; (ii) development and mastery of science and technology (through research and development that could be facilitated by cooperation between industry and training institutions); (iii) promotion of the participation of the private sector in mineral exploitation (through development of conducive investment environment both for local and foreign players); (iv) promotion of the economic empowerment in the mining sector, of those who have been historically disadvantaged, including the indigenous people, the disabled and women (one can add the ‘youth’); (v) information dissemination by Government to the private sector; (vi) adoption of internationally accepted safety, health and environment (SHE) standards; and (vii) Development of the small-scale mining sector through extension and marketing services, among other measures.

The SADC Mining Protocol is supported (in implementation) by the SADC Mining Policy Harmonization Agenda (in full, the Harmonisation of Mining Policies, Standards, Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks in Southern Africa). The Harmonization Agenda seeks to harmonize implementation of the principles of the SADC Mining Protocol identified above throughout the SADC member states. This completes the continental and regional framework which is the foundation for a modern mining policy in Zimbabwe, if the country desires to develop one. With this framework our mining policy will be integrated into the regional framework and the continental framework, thereby deriving from them the necessary support to develop the sector and attract investment into the sector through adoption of best practices throughout the mineral supply and value chains and achieve strong market power. 

National Framework

At the top is Vision 2030, which is a domestication of SADC Vision 2050, which in turn is a regionalization of the continent’s Agenda 2063. One goal of SADC Vision 2050 which exactly coincides with Vision 2030 is achievement of a middle-to-high-income industrialised region. Vision 2030 seeks to achieve an upper middle-income economy by 2030, and 2030 is the end-point date for SADC Vision 2050’s current implementing plan, RISDP 2020-2030. Vision 2030 is currently being implemented by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1). A mining-specific vision which is instrumental in achievement of NDS1 (which runs up to 2025) is the USD12 Billion Mining Industry Roadmap by 2023.


According to this author, the mining policy development process in Zimbabwe is adequately backgrounded right from the continental level to the national level. The core principles of these visions and frameworks cascade downwards from the continent to SADC, and should cascade to the national (Zimbabwean) level. These principles are supposed to be reflected in key sectoral policy documents like the Zimbabwe Minerals Development Policy, ASGM Development Strategy and the various mineral-specific policies. They should be the foundation of our guiding principles for these documents. Once the guiding principles for the various policies in the Zimbabwe mining sector are so clearly derived and defined, the next task is to move from these principles to objectives, then to policy statements and finally strategies (plans to achieve the stated policies).


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