The Political Economy of Resource Looting in Southern Africa
A one-day conference will be held in Harare, Zimbabwe, to discuss the billions of dollars that SADC countries are losing in minerals and oil revenues. The conference is being organised by three organisations: SAPES Trust, Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARWatch) and the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG). It will bring together approximately 70 participants from government, civil society, mining companies, organised labour, and local communities.
The goal is to understand what is happening in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, with a view to exposing the corrupt networks that exist and providing clear recommendations on how SADC countries (individually and collectively) can prevent resource looting. The conference will suggest ways to strengthen legislation, regulations, and implementation.
The objectives of the conference are:
- to promote transparency and accountability;
- to share experiences;
- to advance social and economic rights;
- to contribute to knowledge production.
Expected outcomes will include:
- short country reports on resource looting;
- publication of the conference proceedings;
- publication of a policy brief with key recommendations.
Do SADC countries have systems in place that allow them to draw maximum benefits from the exploitation of their resources? This question will be discussed in all its dimensions — legislative, tax collection, revenue sharing, beneficiation, human rights, and social and environmental accountability.
In February 2016, Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe, disclosed that Zimbabwe could have lost as much as $15 billion in potential revenues from Marange diamonds. He said that “Companies that have been mining diamonds have robbed us of our wealth.” He followed this statement with attempts at nationalising the diamond firms through the formation of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. Diamond mines closed their doors with the collapse of commodity prices in 2014, but with the prospect of increased commodity prices mines are now opening again in Zimbabwe.
This problem is not unique to Zimbabwe. All SADC countries experience the looting of resources by both local and external actors. The Mbeki report is a useful reference document, which shows the extent to which the continent as a whole is losing revenues through tax evasion, illicit financial flows, and corruption. This one-day conference will discuss the extent of this looting, the actors involved, the schemes being used, and efforts being deployed to stop the looting in each of the SADC countries.