Session Six: Panel Discussion on Collaboration among Trade Unions, CSOs and Journalists

The discussions in this session had opening remarks from Fabian Nkomo(trade unionist), Mantoe Phakanti (journalist) and Mutuso Dhliwayo (CSO activist) with Yao Graham moderating

  • Mantoe kick-started the debate by highlighting challenges facing the media in covering issues of mining. She cited lack of the Access to Information Bill as is the case in her country Swaziland and most of the African countries as well. This, she said makes it difficult for the media to access information regarding developments in the mining sector. It is difficult to talk to government officials, miners themselves and also mining companies as they keep referring you from one person to another, she lamented. Again, she opined that issues of mining are difficult to pursue because they seem unattractive compared to politics. Most journalists are general news reporters with no specialisation and hence their concentration on mining issues is at best minimal.
  • From the Trade Union point of view,  Fabian Nkomo representing Trade Unions said unions working on issues of mining do not know each other, hence the poor linkages.  He suggested that as unions they need to come together and form a position of base, there has to be one grouping to speak with one voice so that they can influence change. It is important for the unions to trust each other knowing that they are working for one purpose and also know the modes of communication in order to strengthen the grouping’s collaboration. This calls for the unions to know each other’s roles in all civil society groups. Even individuals need to know each other better. Need to have collaboration with ‘progressive CSOs’ that are working in the sector and be affiliated to one major grouping. He said the unions can also collaborate and know that there are some key countries that are very critical like Tanzania, Cameroon and Gabon in East and West Africa and Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Madagascar in Southern Africa with regards to issues of mining. He cited that in Malawi, his organisation will be implementing a project to create a new mining union which will collaborate with all trade unions on issues of mining.In DRC the union is working at trying to build membership of the union to foster collaboration.
  • On the civil society point of view, Mutuso said in Zimbabwe, there is a draft minerals policy which is actually reflective of some of the provisions in the AMV which he said is a good move.There seems to be a good foundation as collaboration among the already existing mining CSOs at the diamond mines but what is needed is to foster collaboration, vibrant partnerships and supporting each other.