Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nationalised large-scale mining, trade unions and community representation: Perspectives from Northern Madagascar

Resources Policy: This article critically explores the nature and purpose of relationships and interdependencies between stakeholders in the context of a parastatal chromite mining company in the Betsiboka Region of Northern Madagascar. An examination of the institutional arrangements at the interface between the mining company and local communities identified power hierarchies and dependencies in the context of a dominant paternalistic environment. The interactions, inter alia, limited social cohesion and intensified the fragility and weakness of community representation, which was further influenced by ethnic hierarchies between the varied community groups; namely, indigenous communities and migrants to the area from different ethnic groups.
Moreover, dependencies and nepotism, which may exist at all institutional levels, can create civil society stakeholder representatives who are unrepresentative of the society they are intended to represent. Similarly, a lack of horizontal and vertical trust and reciprocity inherent in Malagasy society engenders a culture of low expectations regarding transparency and accountability, which further catalyses a cycle of nepotism and elite rent-seeking behaviour. On the other hand, leaders retain power with minimal vertical delegation or decentralisation of authority among levels of government and limit opportunities to benefit the elite, perpetuating rent-seeking behaviour within the privileged minority. Within the union movement, pluralism and the associated politicisation of individual unions restrict solidarity, which impacts on the movement's capacity to act as a cohesive body of opinion and opposition. Nevertheless, the unions' drive to improve their social capital has increased expectations of transparency and accountability, resulting in demands for greater engagement in decision-making processes.

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