Civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media have been urged to strengthen the monitoring and accountability of the extractive sector in the country’s increasingly volatile and opaque political economy.

This emerged at a meeting organised by the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) held in Harare yesterday as part of activities to mark the 8th Pan African Conference on Financial Flows and Taxation which runs from 9 November to 13 November 2020.

Addressing the meeting, top-notch journalist, Brezhnev Malaba alluded to a report by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) titled Southern Africa’s Debt Conundrum that analyses goings-on in the extractive sector in Southern Africa in as far as illicit financial flows (IFFs) are concerned.

“This investigative journalism project was necessitated by the growing need to better understand the nature of southern Africa’s debt crisis—with particular reference to Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

“These countries were selected in view of the fiscal solvency of their fragile economies and their vulnerability to a rising debt stock, as well as the wider impact on socio-economic development,” Malaba said.

Malaba said the conference comes in the middle of the growing inequalities and the gap between the rich and the poor in the four countries.

Speaking on the same occasion, Janet Zhou, the Zimcodd Executive Director said US$32 billion has been lost as IFFs in the past 2 decades in Zimbabwe.

“That money could have been used for improving social services delivery. There is a need to look at Zimbabwe’s economic model.

“We need a people-centred extractive economy. Those in SMEs and rural areas are suffering. CSOs and media should upscale their advocacy to a higher level. We need to put a human face to the stories in the extractive sector. There is a need for collaboration across the sectors,” Ndlovu said.

Foster Dongozi, the Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) said because of IFFs, Zimbabwean teachers are incapacitated despite the availability of abundant natural resources in the country.

“There is a need to interrogate how resources are being used and to strengthen partnerships and solidarity on exposing corruption,” Dongo said.

Briggs Bomba, the Programs Director for TrustAfrica alluded to the African Union that says IFFs represents one of the challenges hindering progress on the continent.

“The access to education, health, and basics of life in Africa is hampered by IFFs. It is estimated that the continent loses US$100 billion every year to IFFs. The gold value chain accounts for 70 percent of IFFs in the extractive sector.

“The Africa Mining Vision calls on transparency. It emphasises the need to invest in natural resource revenue for economic growth.

“Corporate activity, corruption, and illegal activities drive IFFs. Take for example Glencore. It is the biggest copper mine in Zambia yet it paid nothing in taxation by not declaring profits. The global financial architecture comprising MNCs avoid taxing an MNC in residence countries,” Bomba said.