Session 3 - Civil society on EITI progress, impacts and challenges

Civil society representatives were present in order to discuss their participation in the EITI process, as well to outline their views on the efficiency and impact of their national processes.

Claude Kabemba's picture

Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW)

October 3rd, 2012

Civil society representatives were present in order to discuss their participation in the EITI process, as well to outline their views on the efficiency and impact of their national processes.

Taking to the floor, the Zambian civil society delegate, Mwiya Mwandawande, started his speech by indicating that the initiative in Zambia is ‘technically’ presided over by a government official from the Ministry of Finance, but that he is constantly absent – so his deputy, who is from civil society, takes charge. However, the delegate questioned whether Zambian civil society was really taking advantage of this situation. There are five civil society members on the Zambian EITI committee, including three civil society organisations, as well as one representative of traditional leaders and one representative of trade unions. It seems that there is no solidarity between the civil society representatives who are in the multi-stakeholder group and those who are not. Those participating in the multi-stakeholder group do not feel obliged to be accountable to other civil society organisations, which mandated them. There is also no mechanism to compel them to report to their civil society peers. This lack of collaboration and transparency and the absence of any kind of feedback mechanism mean that civil society as a whole is in an awkward – and weakened – position and that its voice does not usually represent the voice of the majority and for this reason it is not considered by the other members of the multi-stakeholder group.

The civil society representative from Madagascar, Ernest Joseph Gilbert, stated that there were four civil society representatives on the multi-party group. He informed the meeting that Madagascar experienced problems during the compilation of the first EITI report due to problems on the civil society platform. While the second report was being compiled, a new platform was created specifically around natural resources so that civil society could discuss the report in detail. However, unfortunately, no time was given to civil society to do this. The report was published without checking whether civil society contributions had been taken into account – and the result was a number of inconsistencies in the report (for example, ten companies that were supposed to be included in the report were missing).

It is remarkable that in all areas in Madagascar where there are mining operations, there is already a civil society structure. In spite of the political situation, the speaker indicated that there is active participation of the three stakeholders and that open and democratic discussions do take place in order, for example, to decide on the accuracy level for the report. Furthermore, in compiling the report, all details are discussed by all the stakeholders. Direct effects have definitely been noted following the implementation of the EITI in Madagascar, including the establishment of a national ‘Publish What You Pay’ coalition.  

In the DRC, Congolese civil society is very active in the EITI process. Indeed, civil society is the driving force behind the EITI – and has four representatives on the executive committee. For example, it was Congolese civil society that was entrusted with the distribution of both the first and second EITI reports. A DRC civil society delegate to the regional conference said that four key issues needed to be taken into account:

  • Challenges due to weak governance and on-going conflict;
  • Existence of tax havens;
  • General corruption; and,
  • Diversity of natural resources in a vast country.

DRC civil society deplores the sale of shares in Congolese public enterprises to companies based in international tax havens. It utterly condemns this practise, which is based on complicity between the Congolese government and western companies. Transparency is critical.

For Tanzanian civil society, the process in their country kicked off in difficult circumstances when the government was suddenly forced to carry out mining reforms. It had to satisfy the population, which felt that extractive companies were earning more money than the Tanzanian State. But civil society and extractive companies were not prepared for the government to suddenly decide to join the initiative, and consequently there were some problems with the first report. However, by 2010, all the key stakeholders were more organised and had developed a deeper understanding of the initiative. Tanzanian civil society acknowledges that everyone involved in the process is on a learning curve but that the situation is definitely improving as they prepare the country’s second report. Civil society delegates on the committee are appointed by their civil society colleagues. Some of the activities that are undertaken by civil society organisations include outreach workshops and seminars; media interaction and networking; reconciliation report analysis; and the publication and dissemination of a popular version of the first reconciliation report. However, the biggest weakness has been the inability of civil society to carry out EITI report-based outreach activities to allow for a fair assessment of their efficiency, effectiveness and impact.

The representative of civil society from Mozambique said that the experience with EITI implementation shows that civil society organisations are leading the fight for transparency in the country. However, when it comes to the EITI, the driver of the process is the government and therefore the core EITI requirements become the maximum threshold and not the minimum as they should be. He argued that to implement the core EITI requirements, there is no need to have a multi-stakeholder group (MSG) in place. All that is needed are clearly defined standards and an entity to implement them. The role of civil society organisations should be to analyse the published information. The MSG can only be justified on the grounds that it is working to shape the EITI to the specific challenges of the country and that it is going beyond the minimum requirements. However, there is nothing that gives this responsibility to the MSG and any attempt by civil society organisations to move beyond the core EITI requirements is kept off the agenda with the simple argument that ‘this is not within the EITI’. As a result, in Mozambique and DRC, the EITI is not dealing with the most relevant issues related to state absorption of the wealth from the extractive sector. In these two countries, the most relevant deviation of funds, which could be used to finance broad-based development strategies, is done before the phase that is monitored by the EITI (contracts and fiscal negotiations and reporting taxable values) and afterwards (allocation of public expenditure and infrastructure

Discussion

The discussions following the civil society presentations led participants to reflect on new approaches. In particular, civil society must do more than simply help to publish EITI reports. It must gather information on the actual production figures of the extractive industries, the real revenue generated by the sector and what has happened to this revenue. There was another key point raised – namely the ‘decentralisation of the EITI process’, which for the most part only operates at a national level. Lastly, the participants debated the role of civil society leadership and how civil society can help to secure the overall EITI objective – to ensure that the natural resources of a country benefit the population as a whole. To conclude this session, four key points were identified:

  • The EITI must not be seen as an end in itself;
  • The EITI must be regarded as a governance tool, particularly in relation to the overall extractive industry value chain, contract content, determination of the tax system, tax collection and use of financial resources;
  • There is a need to involve the general public now that the EITI has shed some light on the extractive industries; and,
  • The EITI should be used to encourage political reforms.

There was consensus on the need to find innovative ways to support relevant civil society coalitions in the sub-region in terms of networking, independent mobilisation, capacity building, and sharing experiences and skills around EITI issues in particular and good governance of extractive industries in general. In the same vein, EITI supporting countries and the Multi-Donor Trust Fund should also consider direct funding support to home-grown, cross-border, EITI-promoting civil society coalitions in the sub-region.

About the author(s)

Claude Kabemba is the Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW). In 2006, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) asked him to spearhead the formation of SARW. He holds a PhD in International Relations (Political economy) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Thesis: Democratisation and the Political Economy of a Dysfunctional State: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo). Before joining SARW, he worked at the Human Sciences Research Council and the Electoral institute of Southern Africa as a Chief Research Manager and Research Manager respectively. He has also worked at the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Centre for Policy Studies as Policy Analyst. Dr. Kabemba’s main areas of research interest include: Political economy of Sub Saharan Africa with focus on Southern and Central Africa looking specifically on issues of democratization and governance, natural resources governance, election politics, citizen participation, conflicts, media, political parties, civil society and social policies. He has consulted for international organizations such Oxfam, UNHCR, The Norwegian People’s Aid, Electoral Commissions and the African Union. He has undertaken various evaluations related to the work of Electoral Commissions and civil society groups interventions in the electoral process in many African countries. He is regularly approached by both local and international media for comments on political and social issues on the continent. His publication record spans from books (as editor), book chapters, journal articles, monographs, research reports, and newspaper articles.

Contacts

  • 1 Hood Avenue/148 Jan Smuts; Rosebank, GP 2196; South Africa
  • T. +27 (0)11 587 5000
  • F. +27 (0)11 587 5099