Resettled farmers face relocation
SCORES of resettled farmers in wards 8 and 32 of Masvingo North constituency are facing relocation if a Canadian-linked company, TriminZim (Pvt) Ltd, is given the greenlight by the authorities to mine for minerals in the area.
TriminZim (Pvt) Ltd was granted exclusive prospecting order (EPO) number 1790 in March 2021 to prospect for gold, nickel and copper in Masvingo. The activity will be undertaken in the area stretching from Makurumidze River near Masvingo city to Mbungo Estates on both sides of the Masvingo-Mutare highway.
Two weeks ago, officials from the mining company were seen by locals moving around the area and, after being questioned, the officials produced letters from Mines minister Winston Chitando and permanant secretary for Masvingo Jefta Sakupwanya, but the issue forced the community to chase them away from the area.
On 16 November 2022, Sakupwanya wrote a letter to Masvingo district development coordinator Richard Hove, informing him that TriminZim was granted authority to prospect for minerals in wards 8 and 32 of Masvingo North, but reiterated that there should be stakeholder engagement to get approval from the community.
“His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe approved the granting of Exclusive Prospective Order number 1790 to TriminZim (Pvt) Ltd for a period of three years with effect from 12 March 2021. The EPO number 1790 is to prospect for gold, nickel and copper in Masvingo district. The prospecting activity will be undertaken in the area stretching from Makurumidze River up to Mbungo on both sides of the Masvingo-Mutare Highway.”
“Please give them all the support they will need in carrying out the prospecting activities, including, but not limited to stakeholder engagement to get the community buy-in to this nationally important project” reads part of Sakupwanya’s letter read by The NewsHawks.
Efforts to get a comment from Sakupwanya were fruitless since he said he was attending a strategic planning workshop out of Masvingo and was not in a position to comment on the manner.
Chief Musara, born Bornface Musara, told The NewsHawks that it is not proper for government to offer mining rights to a private company using survey maps left by colonial governments in areas which are now occupied by thousands of people. He said community engagement through local leaders should have been done first, instead of subjecting the community to the spectacle of prospectors roaming around homesteads and farming areas.
“We are not against government programmes, but procedure should always be followed. It was known that minerals are in abundance in this area way back when these people were settled in the early 2000s but the issue of minerals were superceded by the need that people should get land. We were never told that there are people who will come to our area for minerals. Community engagement should be the first thing. I think they should start this process afresh and consider the life of those already on the land” said Musara.
Masvingo Rural District Council chairperson Albert Mangena, who is also the councillor for ward 8, told The NewsHawks that his council was instructed by the authorities from above to approve the EPO for TriminZim and there was nothing they could do although the mining activities will affect thousands of people in an area covering more than 50 kilometres. According to minutes of a Masvingo RDC environmental committee meeting held on 13 September 2022, the EPO issue was discussed and one Mr Dzvairo, an executive officer for environment told the meeting that the order given to TriminZim gave the company exclusive rights to explore minerals in wards 8 and 32. Members of the committee felt that since it was a directive from the government there was no much to discuss but to accept.
Ward 32 councillor Stephen Munyenyiwa said officials should come clean and tell the community what will happen to them so that they know their fate. He said there was a confrontation between the community and officials from TriminZim since the officials told them that all the procedures were followed and there was no need to talk to people.
A geologist from TriminZim Raymond Chivete told The NewsHawks that people should not panic over their presence in Masvingo North. He said their presence is lawful since they approached all relevant government offices which granted them permission to do what they are doing. He also said community engagement meetings will be held very soon through the office of the district development coordinator.
“I think there are people who are spreading false information about our presence in that area. All we are doing is above board, we have approvals from all relevant offices, including that of the President and minister responsible for minerals. We are still prospecting and, if we get what we want, there will be processes to be followed before actual mining.”