Conference: Digging up dirt on southern Africa mining deals

Africa’s vast mineral wealth has often fueled brutal civil wars that killed tens of thousands of people and completely destroyed economies and societies.However, if managed wisely, mineral development could offer many African nations a chance to rebuild.

In this context, the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) hosted a  southern Africa regional conference in Lusaka, Zambia, during August 13-15 under the theme “Investigating Extractive Industries”.

The meeting sought to build on team investigations and partnerships, encourage relationships between investigative journalists, enable professional growth and produce better stories.

Supported by Hivos and Panos Institute for southern Africa, the programme consisted of theme-based presentations, technical skills and brainstorm sessions. 

More than 30 journalists attended the conference, including representatives from Zambian  print, radio and television media.

Check out the link to presentations below: 

[Day one, 13 August 2012]

Welcome and introduction – Abdullah Vawda, FAIR Executive Director

Keynote address: Consequences of rapacious mining in the DRC – Eric Mwamba (Read the English translated version and view the original print version published in French by L’Eveil)

Case Study: Extractive industry conflicts of interest in Mozambique – Luis Nhachote & Milton Machel

Report: Monitoring Extractive Industries in Mozambique – Vusumuzi Sifile, Panos

Panel discussion:  Extractive Industry Transparency Alliance (Zambia) – Mwiya Mwandawande

[Day two, 14 August 2012]

Case Study – South Africa: How Central Rand Gold fleeced investors out of $200m – Rob Rose & Stephan Hofstatter, Sunday Times

Case Study – South Africa: Lack of accountability among mining firms: the case of Aurora – Joy Summers, Carte Blanche

Case Study – Malawi: Uranium mining not in the people’s interest – Rex Chikoko

Introducing Chapter 10 of the FAIR Investigative Journalism Handbook: Investigating the Environment

Presentation: IJ Manual chapters relative to extractive industries & the environment – Charles Rukuni, FAIR

[Day three, 15 August 2012]

Case Study – Zimbabwe: Diamond mining and exploitation in Marange (Documentary)

Case Study – Zambia: Who benefits from privatization of mines? – Anthony Mukwita’s investigation for the BIJ

Practical session – Tools to investigate resource exploitation in Africa – Abdullah Vawda, FAIR

[DRAFT Resolutions] 

1. Seek financial support for radio journalists to produce investigative stories.
2. Arrange legal support for radio journalists to defend their cases.
3. Media and civil society should partner to publish stories affecting communities living near mining industries.
4. Media and CSO’s should acknowledge the value of Investigative Journalism in society, and find ways to assist the profession.
5. Media and CSOs should work together in structured alliances and establish linkages between research and investigative stories.
6. Filed visits with media should be considered and supported by CSO’s that focus on extractive industries.
7. More efforts and resources to investigate the environment, health and livelihoods of communities near mines.
8. More proactive efforts to link company information across countries.
9. Publish an ‘African Rich List’ with data of tycoons, their dealings, assets, etc.
10. Post ideas and research reports on the Global Research website.
11. SMS alerts or emails to media about new mining reports that are released.
12. Future regional conferences to include experts, government officials and policymakers, e.g on extractive industries.
13. Encourage more women investigative reporters.
14. Create closed discussion groups for journalists (on social media and elsewhere) to share information.
15. Make efforts towards hosting more regional conferences which could enable sharing of ideas amongst journalists.
16. Share ideas from the region with network of FAIR members, especially on issues like mining which overlap other countries .
17. Maintain a watch and summary information on new laws, and publish research reports on Africa through FAIR website.
18. Share information about new contracts between governments and extractive industry players.
19. Ensure that investigative stories are published/broadcast to have maximum impact on changing social injustice.
20. Encourage more interest towards the investigative journalism profession.
21. Encourage networking amongst journalists working on similar stories or common issues, e.g. Uranium mining in Malawi.
22. More female investigative reporters to cover extractive industries, specifically on issues of child labour at mines.
23. To empower IJ’s to tackle in-depth issues that will influence change in society and lead to development efforts.
24. Arrange more training for IJ’s to include skills building around negotiations, interpretation of data and financial reports, etc.
25. After investigation, ensure that mine owners are accountable for wrongdoing.
26. Help communities where mines operate from, by producing regular stories on the social inequalities.
27. FAIR to find support for local-based journalists to complete their investigations properly.
28. IJ’s should support content development in the community media sector (TV, radio and print)
29. Networks should host each other’s stories, including on organizational websites and in newspapers.
30. Mechanism to ensure security and protection for them, due to risky nature of stories.
31. More training on Financial Journalism to understand and interpret the numbers.
32. FAIR should increase marketing and promotion of its work to African media.
33. Develop a technical database where FAIR can arrange/fix meetings or permissions in other countries.
34. Produce guidelines and budgets for media houses and journalists that would like to work with FAIR members in other regions.  

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