PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa's "Zimbabwe is open for business" mantra has placed the whole country "under siege" with women in mining communities the worst affected, rights activists have said.
Speaking in Harare yesterday at the launch of the "Right to Say No" national campaign for women affected by extractive industries in Zimbabwe, Farai Maguwa who is the director for Centre for Natural Resources Governance, said Mnangagwa's "open for business" mantra had done more harm than good to mining communities.
"The country is literally under siege due to the open for business mantra. Yes, Zimbabwe is said to be open for business, but how is that helping locals particularly women?" Maguwu asked.
He accused the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) for allegedly letting down locals by conducting questionable environmental impact assessments which do not promote sustainable environmental management.
"Ema has been doing fake environmental impact assessments. Ema should protect the integrity of the environment. The problem is that as Zimbabweans, we have more fear and no courage to confront our leaders," he said, adding that most of the investors were backed by State security agents to suppress citizens.
Institute for Young Women's Development knowledge management, documentation and advocacy co-ordinator Tinotenda Chihera said Chinese mining companies should be held accountable to protect communities from abuse.
"It is unfortunate and heart-breaking that young women and women living in mining communities face a cocktail of violence," Chihera said.
"The Chinese companies must be encouraged to follow the rules, regulations and laws of the country. The rights of women are clearly articulated in the Constitution as such no-one is above the law, they should be left with no choice but to conform."
Women and Law in Southern Africa director Fadzai Traquino said failure by policymakers and other State agencies to regulate operations in the extractive industries exposed women to abuse.
"Government has signed a number of human rights treaties, therefore, it has a legal responsibility to monitor, implement and regulate the conduct of players and actors in the mining industry to ensure women are protected from all forms of GBV," Traquino said.
"The vulnerabilities experienced by women have to do with unreported cases, impunity, weak enforcement and monitoring and low rate of convictions when cases are reported."