MASVINGO – Villagers in Manyama area in under Chief Charumbira are up in arms with a prospective mining syndicate which they are accusing of carrying out activities without the knowledge of local traditional leaders.
Villagers are demanding that Mapirenda Mining Syndicate, which is into limestone mining, vacates the area saying the syndicate had no requisite paperwork to show that they were licenced, not consulted locals, a development which has seen them carrying out work in the dead of night.
Locals are accusing fellow villager Shamhu Chipfuro of being bribed by the syndicate after which he allowed them to carry out activities in his fields and the nearby mountain without notifying locxals so that they take precautionery measures.
Leaders from 18 local villages’ heads gathered at Chipfuro’s homestead on August 31 after touring the activities in the presence of the syndicate representatives demanding immediate cessation of any activity saying the company had no Enviromental Impact Assessment (EIA) from the Enviromental Management Agency (EMA) to show that their activities will not harm them.
One villager William Madzvamuse Mubaiwa said they were not against development if there was going to be any but the mine should follow proper channels and show them that they were licenced to operate and put measures in to make sure that locals benefit from the mine.
“If there is going to be a mine, there is need for our involvement. This syndicate came claiming to have their papers in order, little did we know that even our village heads and chiefs were not aware. So they must rectify that anomaly and make sure that they follow proper channels,” said Mubaiwa.
On his part, the syndicate representative, Ephraim Mudzungairi said they accept all the blame that is being leveled against them and would engage the locals and put corrective measures in place before they carry out any work.
“We accept what the villagers are saying, we made a mistake on our part but we have heard their concerns and we are ready to take corrective measure so that if we are to continue working here, we will do it in harmony with the locals.
“We will make sure that all the relevant authorities have been appraised and all requirements are in place before we start working. We will make sure that we give five percent share ownership to locals, another five percent to the local traditional chief’s council,” said Mudzungairi.
He also said they would seek to compensate everyone affected and all was in place to make sure that when they start mining they would put the processing plant there as dictated by the government.
The negotiations were done in the presence of the police details who were there to make sure that the deliberations were done peacefully as tension was high.
A local resident Anna Zisheche from Machaka said at first they thought the syndicate was just prospecting but later on realized they were now mining and reaping while the locals had nothing.
“When they came we thought they were registered and were only prospecting only to realise they were not and were carrying out their work during the night without our knowledge. So now we no longer want to hear anything about them. They have to go,” said Zisheche.
Elastos Nhikiti of Nhikiti village said they were afraid that if work is done without their involvement, they will be abused and the mine could use harmful chemicals that may affect land, people and animals.
Rebbeca Muwaro of Machaka Village where the claim is located said it was not welcome in their area saying they could be relocated, a development that could affect many like what happened to the 2014 Tugwi Mukosi victims.
“We are old and widowed, I cannot imagine being relocated elsewhere. How will I cope with all the work involved when one relocates to another area? What guarantee do we have that we would be compensated? We are all aware of what happened to Tugwi Mukosi flood victims in Chivi,” said Muwaro.
Villagers said the mining syndicate had defiled their traditional land and mountains where their ancestors were buried.
In his defense Chipuro who was accused of allowing the mine to operate in the area said when they came he was also not aware that they had no permission from authorities and local leadership but now that he was aware, he will also seek to be compensated.
“They came here in 2017, I thought all their papers were in order so I could not block them. Now that I have support from my fellow villagers, I will side with my fellow villagers and make sure that I also get compensated,” Chipfuro said.