Coal con­flict in Hwange

Com­mu­nity de­mands in­di­geni­sa­tion of ALL min­ing oper­a­tions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - From Leonard Ncube in Hwange

PEO­PLE from Hwange and sur­round­ing ar­eas have urged the Govern­ment to in­di­genise all coal min­ing com­pa­nies oper­at­ing in their area as lo­cals are not ben­e­fit­ing while the en­vi­ron­ment suf­fers.

Con­tribut­ing dur­ing a pub­lic meet­ing or­gan­ised by the Par­lia­men­tary Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on Mines and En­ergy at Lwen­dulu Hall in the coal min­ing town yes­ter­day, par­tic­i­pants ac­cused coal min­ing com­pa­nies of tak­ing ad­van­tage of them while pol­lut­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and caus­ing the death of livestock.

Res­i­dents, for­mer mine work­ers, busi­ness peo­ple, coun­cil­lors and vil­lagers from Hwange and the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties were among those who at­tended the meet­ing.

Mr Casper Ndlovu from Hwange town said the Mines and Min­er­als Amend­ment Bill should man­date Govern­ment to in­cor­po­rate lo­cals in min­ing Boards.

“The whole prob­lem starts with lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion. If we were rep­re­sented at the top, our views would be con­sid­ered. We want this Bill to en­sure that all Boards are made up of 50 per­cent lo­cals, the same way Govern­ment calls for 51 per­cent own­er­ship of ev­ery for­eign com­pany in­vest­ing in the coun­try,” he said.

Mr Al­bert Pisi­mayi said the Bill should em­power lo­cals to ex­ploit min­er­als in their lo­cal­i­ties.

“A ma­jor­ity of peo­ple you see here have worked in mines but never ben­e­fited. What pains us is that while we abide by laws, most small scale mines es­pe­cially for gold, have been in­vaded by peo­ple from other prov­inces who do il­le­gal min­ing.

“We are poor be­cause we are not ben­e­fit­ing from these re­sources and some mar­riages have even bro­ken up be­cause of poverty,” said Mr Pisi­mayi.

Par­tic­i­pants be­moaned the ex­tent of pol­lu­tion in rivers such as Deka.

An­other par­tic­i­pant, Mrs Rose­mary Shoko, said the Mines Min­istry must de­cen­tralise li­cens­ing.

“We should de­cen­tralise li­cens­ing from Harare. We only wake up and see peo­ple ex­ca­vat­ing on our farms and we can’t even stop them be­cause they say they have li­cences from Harare,” said Mrs Shoko.

She said li­cens­ing fees must be affordable to lo­cals and the Bill should en­sure that any miner wish­ing to prospect in an area should first en­gage the com­mu­nity.

“Prospec­tors should en­gage com­mu­ni­ties so that they un­der­stand our area and know our chal­lenges. Some of the mines have started schol­ar­ships but none of our chil­dren have ben­e­fited as they choose from their own ar­eas.

“Our farms have been de­stroyed and we stare peren­nial drought be­cause of that. Min­ing is a life threat­en­ing job and as we speak some peo­ple are now dis­abled while the en­vi­ron­ment has lost,” said Mrs Shoko.

The par­tic­i­pants ex­pressed con­cern that even em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties were elud­ing them as com­pa­nies bus in peo­ple from their places of ori­gin.

They com­plained about roads es­pe­cially the once tarred Deka Road which joins Hwange and Vic­to­ria Falls through Jam­bezi which is now im­pass­able.

Hwange Lo­cal Board Coun­cil­lor Wil­son Maphosa urged the Govern­ment to en­gage lo­cal lead­ers such as tra­di­tional lead­ers and Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tors be­fore is­su­ing li­cences for any con­ces­sion.

The Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee’s chair­per­son, Cde Sim­barashe Mu­darikwa, who is also Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Uzumba Con­stituency, said so far their meet­ings have been well at­tended with crit­i­cal is­sues raised.—@ncubeleon.

Mrs Rose­mary Shoko makes a con­tri­bu­tion dur­ing the Mines and En­ergy Bill pub­lic hear­ing in Hwange re­cently

Mr Felix Moyo

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