Wrangling chrome miners seek Mugabe intervention
WRANGLING over chrome mining claims by artisanal miners in the Midlands Province is continuing unabated, with the Zimbabwe Small Miners Confederation (ZSMC) now threatening to appeal to President Robert Mugabe.
The small-scale miners are fighting over 93 claims they have to share out of a total 205 they once owned.
The province has a total 306 claims, with some owned by private entities. The dispute comes as government is re-allocating 21 170 hectares of land once owned by chrome miner Zimasco to new smelters and small-scale miners.
With prospects for improved chrome prices on the international market high, the battle is likely to get uglier as the ore-rich zones will be targeted by many.
ZSMC vice president Emmanuel Mubobo told the Daily News that there was heel dragging by government on addressing the dispute, despite impressions from the authorities that they were seized with the matter.
He said when his organisation recently met Mines minister Walter Chidakwa, it appeared all was on course for a resolution.
“We agreed at a meeting with Chidakwa that those who have been mining will be given the right of first refusal but we are now having people coming and threatening to displace us, claiming to have been allocated our blocks by government,” Mubobo said, questioning that “how is that possible”?
“We have been occupying 205 claims out of 306 claims in Midlands. We then agreed to shed some of the claims and remained with 93. Of those 93, we then agreed to share, meaning people would come together and mine but it seems they are still not satisfied with that 93 and that is why we are saying the government must come in and solve this once and for all.”
“Despite all those efforts to try and solve this, some people don’t see this hence everyday we continue to see individuals from outside Midlands coming to occupy claims which they say they were given by government.
“Now we have people coming from elsewhere to take our land, while locals are suffering and surely that cannot happen,” Mubobo said.
“As a result, we are appealing to Mugabe to help restore sanity in this area. He is the only one who can understand our language. It’s now a game of politics being played out at our expense and some are using the president’s name for their personal benefit and we don’t want that,” he said.
He said there was need to address the issue as a matter of urgency as it was likely to get out of hand if not dealt with properly.
Mubobo added that despite numerous engagements, Mines deputy minister Fred Moyo was taking long to address the matter, which he said was worsening their plight.
“Fred is just good at promising. We have appealed to him several times but nothing has happened while we continue to be victimised,” Mubobo told the Daily News.
“Efforts to get attention from government through the deputy minister have failed,” he said, adding that Moyo “has on numerous
occasions given us false hope and on the ground there is nothing positive happening to show that he is doing something”.
On Monday, Moyo told the Daily News: “The invasion, as some people might put it, that’s a wrong term. What happened is government acquired 50 percent shares from Zimasco and government entrusted Zimasco to give vacant land where there is nobody such that other miners can be allocated. But naturally as you know, those who are on the ground want to protect their claims and those who don’t have want a share of the claims.”
Asked about the accusations of dillydallying Moyo said; “We don’t just come up with solutions that easily. It’s a complex matter.
“We also need Zimasco to say these are the people we have been working with. Such that we can see who is legally occupying the land and who has imposed himself on the claims.
“We are not after evicting people but we are after solving the issue amicably. As I am speaking, there is a conference that is currently taking place in Gweru where such issues are being addressed.
“We are also dispatching a taskforce team headed by my director this week to go on the ground and find out the real issues on the ground as we strive to address the matter.”
When quizzed about the matter during recently-ended Mine Entra he said his ministry was already seized with the matter.
“I have heard there are squabbles over mining claims. However, when the government allocated the claims we had the minister of Provincial Affairs (Jason Machaya) and Zimasco, who held a meeting with all small-scale miners contracted with the company,” he said.
“Those who are complaining were not on the list. However, there might be some isolated cases and as such, we are sending a team of surveyors and officials from Zimasco to go on the ground and rectify the situation.”–b24