By BENNET SIMBEYE –
TWELVE civil society organisations (CSOs) working on issues pertaining to extractive industries in Zambia have called on the Government to implement the publication of beneficial ownerships of mining companies to enhance transparency.
The Global Transparency Initiative, which promotes good governance on natural resources through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), recently agreed to make beneficial ownership transparent, an obligation for all 49 member countries.
With this new development, the civil society organisations said Zambia should build on its great strides in the EITI implementation by embracing reporting on beneficial ownership in full in its EITI reports.
Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) executive director Isabel Mukelabai said in a statement on behalf of the other organisations that the addition of beneficial ownership as an obligation to EITI disclosure requirement would entail citizens being accorded a chance to know the true owners and beneficiaries of the natural resource extraction.
“This is a very significant step by the Global EITI initiative as previous issues of EITI reporting on beneficial ownership were piloted in 11 EITI countries, including Zambia,” Ms Mukelabai said.
She said this meant that Zambia had been part of the learning process that had helped draw national level lessons on how beneficial ownership reporting could support greater transparency for the extractive sector.
“This means our expectations are that all Zambian EITI reports will ensure that information about extractive companies’ beneficial owners is made wholly and unreservedly available to the general public for scrutiny,” she said.
Beneficial ownership disclosure would also support the fight against corruption in Zambia and help to track and stop illicit capital flight from the economy, thereby increasing the much-needed revenue in the economy.
Based on the 2014 report, revenues from the sector increased by 21 per cent and that if standards of transparency are improved even further, more revenue can be generated from the sector and made available for increased social spending on health, education, social protection and agriculture.
“We further wish to remind Government that in November 2015, CSOs jointly embarked on the launch of the ‘Stop the Bleeding Campaign’ in Zambia aimed at curbing illicit financial flows from Africa as a whole but also more specifically from Zambia in particular, owing to the huge financial leakages that our economy is facing”.
She urged the Government to ensure that fighting financial leakages through tax dodging practices by multinational corporations was placed on top of its policy agenda as more resources were needed to fight poverty and grow the economy.
Other organisations that endorsed the statement were Civil Society Organisations Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Council of Churches in Zambia, Extractive Industries Transparency Alliance, Copperbelt Trade and Development Forum, Zambia Land Alliance, Publish What You Pay and Caritas Zambia.
Others were Oxfam, Democratic Governance and Human Rights Activists, Southern Africa Resource Watch and the Zambia Council for Social Development.