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Families lament disrupted lives



THE 40 families who were relocated from Mukwasi and Tagarira villages in Buhera, Manicaland province, to enable Max Mind Investments to mine lithium say their social lives have been badly affected by the move.


Worst affected is Mavis Honye, a widow liv[1]ing with 19 other people in a five-room house. Before commencing its mining operations in 2023, Max Mind built five-room houses for the villagers who were to be relocated.

 The houses consist of a kitchen, a sitting room and three bedrooms. In Honye’s case, no consideration was given to the needs of her adult children and grandchildren. They would require a place of their own in which to reside with their families.

 In rural Zimbabwe, it is common that a boy child is allocated a place to build his own home once he marries. Often, the house may be built within the family homestead or just outside of it. Honye has a son who is married with two children.

 This was not taken into consideration when the company’s enumerators were collecting data ahead of meeting its compensation obligations.

 Honye’s other son, who is also married, was not at home at the time of the enumerator’s visit. He faced the same fate as his brother.

“So, they built this five-room house for me and my family but, as you can see, my family is too big,” said Honye.

“They refused to build my son a house, so I am living with him, his wife and two children. I have two more grown-up boys in the house, both married,” she said.

“So, two bedrooms are being used by my sons and their wives. The third bedroom is be[1]ing used by my grown-up son and nephew. I am forced to sleep in the sitting room with my grandchildren. One of my daughters gave birth and has a small child, and she also sleeps in the sitting room with the rest of us.”

When The NewsHawks visited Honye’s home, there were 22 people living in the five[1]room house — including her daughters, who are single parents.

 Honye’s married daughter had come to visit along with her three children. “When I go back home with my family, it means there will be 18 people living here,” said the daughter, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“That’s how they live every day. Twelve of them sleep in the dining room.

 “These are some of the negative consequences of the relocation.”

 Honye’s son, Fanuel Mandzeke, said Max Mind did not compensate villagers fairly. “In my case, I had a house within my parents’ yard, but that was not considered. In the village there was room for us to expand, but here we cannot because the stands are of a fixed size. Now I am forced to live in the same house with my mother, together with my wife and children,” he said.

“As you can see, we are overcrowded. We got a raw deal from the company, but it looks like those who were meant to look out for our interests were on the company’s side and not on our side. Our feelings and thoughts were not considered.”

Mandzeke said the family was struggling to make ends meet in town because they had no means of earning a living.

“Before we were moved, the company said they would employ at least one member in each affected family. In my family, no one was employed. Now we are struggling to survive because everything requires money in town. We are being charged for things such as electricity, which we never had to pay for before. “

And in town, we can’t keep domestic animals, nor can we farm to ensure that we are food secure. We are in trouble.”

Several other villagers complained about being subjected to uncomfortable living conditions as they were being forced to stay with in-laws because of space constraints.

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