Development, associated growing pains | Sunday mail
DEVELOPMENT, especially investment in infrastructure, usually comes with social costs.
When plans are made, there is often an underestimation of how development will cause some discomfort, which is sometimes necessary.
Communities, which would have been formed over time, crystallizing their ways of life, are sometimes upset when capital emerges in a disruptive manner.
History is replete with stories of when new business concerns were contradicted by sentiment objects in a community, sparking disagreement.
In 1956, when Africa’s largest man-made dam – the Kariba Dam – was built, residents felt aggrieved. About 57,000 Gwembe-Tonga were displaced from their homes along the Zambezi River, which was the main source of their livelihood.
During construction, 34,000 people were displaced in Zambia while 24,000 were displaced in Zimbabwe.
If these people had remained in place, categorically, the dam – which has become a vital cog in the economies of both countries – might have suffered a stillbirth.
In post-independence Zimbabwe, there were similar cases where communities were involved in conflicts with investment – especially in rural communities.
Given the influx of investors to Zimbabwe, since the birth of the Second Republic which operates under the Zimbabwe Open for Business mantra, the issue of development and community harmony is once again in the spotlight. This prompted the Center for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) and the Tugwi Mukosi Multidisciplinary Research Institute at Midlands State University to collaborate on a book project on the subject.
Entitled “Development-Induced Displacement in Zimbabwe (Learning from Colonial and Post-Colonial Experiences)”, the book is a collaboration between academics, traditional leaders, researchers, civil society actors and government bureaucrats.
Edited by a senior official and current Director of the President’s Office and Cabinet, Ambassador Mary Mubi, the book is an experience-based text that seeks to provide solutions to potential development challenges.
âThe book provides a timely opportunity for stakeholders, including government ministries, local authorities, development partners, researchers and civil society, to have a conversation about the social and economic impact of displacement induced by development in Zimbabwe and reflect on the past and present. experiences and analyze them.
âThe case studies detailed in this book provide crucial evidence that will inform future practice,â Ambassador Mubi wrote in the book’s foreword.
The work deals with the aspect of compensation in the event of a development project covering agricultural land or residential spaces occupied by families.
In one of the chapters, Steve Mberi, a researcher at the Sam Moyo Institute for Agrarian Studies, discusses the element of compensation for development-induced displacement.
He believes that although in some cases communities have been compensated, there was a need to improve the systems that determine the amount of payments made to affected communities.
âThere are cases where communities affected by development programs have been compensated. Nonetheless, the point of contention in most cases is the appraisal of properties without any evidence that independent appraisers are being used by the state to assess the level of compensation, âwrites Mberi.
He advocates for the preservation of indigenous knowledge systems when these displacements occur.
For example, the inhabitants of Marange have a spiritual connection with the land and when they are displaced, one has to wonder if they can access certain spaces for their worship. Uprooting them without considering factors such as religion breeds resistance and may see communities deny favorable material compensation.
One of the most topical areas in development is the presence of mineral deposits on agricultural land. In dealing with such cases, lawyer Thammary Brend Vhiriri, who has a chapter in the book, reminds us of the Kampala Convention to which Zimbabwe is a party.
She said that in adapting to new developments, the country should be sensitive to the pact which states that it must “”. . . prevent or mitigate, prohibit and eliminate the root causes of internal displacement and provide durable solutions.
Vhiriri says that although Article 31 of the Mining and Minerals Law protects occupants of rural and agricultural land in that a potential miner must obtain their consent before undertaking mining activities on less land. of 100 hectares, there must be a specific law that speaks of the development induced displacements.
âIt would be ideal, as the Kampala Convention wishes, for there to be stand-alone legislation to protect the rights of internally displaced persons. A specific law on internally displaced persons would provide, to a greater extent, a degree of legal certainty, thus facilitating the implementation of its provisions by government agencies, âwrites Vhiriri.
Under current law, when there is a conflict of use between mining and agriculture, the matter is settled at the discretion of the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, with little room for arbitration. afterwards.
In his writings, Vhiriri calls for a mechanism to assess these issues on a case-by-case basis, when there is a clearer criterion than mere ministerial discretion. Although it carries the ideas of technocrats from different fields, the book welcomes the ideas of traditional rulers who are the front line of governance in most of Zimbabwe’s productive communities.
The chairman of the Provincial Council of Chiefs and Mberengwa traditional chief, Chief Ngungumbane, has a chapter entitled âDevelopment-induced displacement in Zimbabwe: historical overview and general experiences of those affectedâ.
Chief Ngungumbane, whose area of ââjurisdiction has historically been moved from Esigodini in southern Matabeleland to Mberengwa in the Midlands, writes about the effects of displacement – both planned and unintentional.
âMarginalization occurs when displaced people lose their economic power and experience a reduction in their social status and confidence. Relative economic deprivation and marginalization begins before physical displacement, for example when investments, infrastructure and services in affected areas are disrupted in preparation for the start of the project, âwrites Chief Ngungumbane.
He lists social disarticulation, food insecurity, loss of access to common property and lack of land as other effects of displacement. Chief Ngungumbane urges authorities to ensure that when development projects are launched or established, it is mandatory for host communities to benefit from them.
âA major example of development-induced displacement has occurred with the establishment of transmission lines and power pylons from Kariba to different parts of the country.
“What is particularly disappointing is that the majority of people have not benefited from the electricity flowing through their homes,” writes Chief Ngungumbane.
The book contains recommendations which, according to the compilers, can facilitate processes as the country moves towards a development-centric Vision 2030, which envisions Zimbabwe as an upper middle-income economy.
Some of the recommendations include community consultations.
The book suggests that community consultations in development projects should not be about ticking boxes, but that people should feel they are part of the decision, that way there will be less resistance.
He calls on the authorities to ensure that when compensation is agreed or promised, funds are disbursed promptly.
When there are relocations, authorities are urged to ensure that there are basic amenities such as schools and clinics to avoid diminishing the quality of life for the movers, which can be a deterrent. for other communities when such conversations emerge in the future.
Under the Second Republic, there was an improvement in scholarship on matters of national importance. This will allow policy makers and key decision makers to rely on evidence in their thinking.
The book, with contributions from writers like Crispen Maseva, Joel Chaeruka, Christof Schmidt and Terrence Mashingaidze, provides an opportunity for there to be a manual that guides the relationship between host communities and investors due to the nature of his suggestions, which essentially plead for an âintermediate approachâ.