Oxfam-Canada and Zambian NGO, DECOP, lodged a complaint against Mopani Copper Mines, which at the time was jointly owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals and Switzerland’s Glencore International.
The complaint concerned Mopani’s eviction of longstanding squatter communities near the town of Mufulira, Zambia. The evictions were taking place despite the severe economic, social and psychological hardships that such evictions would impose on already vulnerable subsistence farmers. The squatters, most of whom are ex-miners and have been long-term tenants of ZCCM, have been threatened with evictions by Mopani.
The company also refused to meet local community representatives and NGOs to discuss the situation and claimed that the matter had to be left to a senior government official, the Permanent Secretary of Copperbelt Province.
The complaint was based on two reports: “Land Tenure Insecurity on Zambia’s Copperbelt” (Oxfam, 1998) and a confidential briefing by the Zambian National Land Alliance concerning the tense situation of “squatters” on mine land in Mufulira, Copperbelt Province.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter II
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.2
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.7
- Version 2000 Chapter III
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.2 Subparagraph V.2.A
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.2 Subparagraph V.2.B
In October 2001, the Canadian NCP organized meetings with First Quantum, Oxfam, local NGOs and local leaders of the Zambian community. A successful resolution was reached that included three key assurances: first, all evictions would stop; second, Mopani would cooperate with DECOP and the local council to work towards resettlement of the squatters on land that they could own; and third, there would be continued dialogue between civil society and Mopani.
The Canadian NCP sent a final communication to the parties stating it welcomed the spirit of cooperation. The NCP also encouraged the company to maintain an open line of communication with the Canadian NGO and other groups concerned about the welfare of people affected by the operations of the Zambian mining company.
The Canadian NCP and the OECD have frequently cited the First Quantum/Mopani case as an example of how the Guidelines are supposed to work and proof that they are having their intended effect. However, in March 2007, OECD Watch received a report that the facts on the ground tell a very different story.
According to the Canada-based Umuchinshi Initiative, Mopani had breached every aspect of the resolution. No effort had been undertaken to engage in a continuing dialogue with local NGOs and the affected community. No plans have been made to work towards a long-term, sustainable solution consistent with the Guidelines. Worse and directly contrary to the resolution agreed upon, Mopani resumed evictions in 2006 to make way for the re-opening of one mine-shaft and the construction of another.
Even in areas where eviction has not yet occurred, the situation remains problematic and chronic insecurity remains a paramount concern. The remaining farmers on Mopani land are subject to a land-licensing scheme that serves to perpetuate poverty. Farmers remain subject to eviction at any time. They complain about the inability to invest in themselves, their land or crops. Similarly, NGOs and local governments refuse to invest in “temporary” communities that are subject to destruction at any time. Today, all farmers on Mopani land continue to face hardships, which is clearly contrary to both the spirit and letter of the Guidelines.