Regulating Mining in South Africa and Zimbabwe: Communities, the Environment and Perpetual Exploitation


Tumai Murombo
Associate Professor,
School of Law,
University of the Witwatersrand,
Private Bag X3,
Wits 2050, South Africa





Mining as an extractive activity has the potential to promote sustainable economic growth in developing countries; however this largely depends on how the activities are regulated. Mining contributes to environmental pollution and degradation, and the social degeneration of local communities. Corporate social responsibility initiatives are often self-serving short-term programs that in the long term do not benefit mining communities. In this article, the mining, environment and community trilemma is investigated through the lens of what is happening in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is argued that continued calls for nationalisation and indigenisation are the sequel of the failure of postcolonial mineral law and policy reforms. Regulatory continuity from colonial laws has seen mining companies continue to treat mineral rich developing countries as sources of raw materials. Little is done to develop the communities impacted by mining activities. Recommendations are made on how mining can support sustainable development without creating a cycle of poverty within mining communities. This can happen through effective regulation embedded within sustainable development, transparency and accountability and equitable access to mineral wealth.


Customary land rights, extractives, indigenisation, mining law and policy, mining regulation, nationalisation, South Africa, transparency and accountability, Zimbabwe.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893