Chief Jahana of Insiza has written a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa ‘strongly’ objecting to the mining exploration of lithium in Fort Rixon without following due processes.
The Government recently gave an Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO) to mining giant Premier African Minerals to commence the exploration process on lithium and tantalum.
The chief said the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development did not even consult him and only got to know about the venture from state media, accusing the state of mortgaging resources meant to benefit Matabeleland locals.
He also cited the late Filabusi Chief Vezi Maduna had engaged the president’s office about the same concern and was reportedly harassed by suspected state agents.
The chief pointed out the opposite of what President Mnangagwa had promised was taking place since his office was issuing mining Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPOs) without community consent.
“It’s exactly 42 months later after you promised not to mortgage the future of Zimbabweans but the situation in my area proves you otherwise. Mining EPOs are issued by your offices after you have consented hence this letter to you,” Chief Jahana said.
“Take note that the due process of issuing a Lithium exploration EPO at Fort Rixon, in our area of jurisdiction with Chief Sibasa was not followed. As chiefs, custodians of this area we only read about this mining venture from state media.”
Chief Jahana said lack of consultation was a “strong” sign of failure to the foundation of Mnangagwa’s new dispensation.
“As chiefs, we feel the future of our subjects and Matabeleland at large has been mortgaged without our and their consent, knowledge and with them not benefitting since the company involved has its labour force from outside Insiza District and Matabeleland,” he said.
Chief Jahana noted in the past few months, the same modus operandi of imposing a lucerne grass growing project without consultation of villagers concerned occurred in Chilonga.
“Now it’s Fort Rixon in my area,” the chief said.
“If only you had responded to the letter written by the late Honourable Chief Maduna to you concerning the issuance of mining EPOs in Matabeleland without following due processes and procedures, I, as Chief Jahana, wouldn’t be in this current situation.”
Chief Jahana urged President Mnangagwa to revert to the normal processes of issuing all mining EPOs in Matabeleland.
“Failure to do so makes the whole native Matabeleland inhabitants feel or think that you have mortgaged their future for your economic future gains of your family after your retirement from active political life as head of State,” he said.
“I’m aware of your executive power and authority as Commander in Chief of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and as Executive President of Zimbabwe. As Chief Jahana, I am against the abuse of power to mortgage the future of my subjects through the issuance of Lithium mining EPO in my area of jurisdiction without consulting and agreeing with them. This is a massive economic marginalisation of my subjects and Matabeleland at large by your office.”
The chief said he and his subjects totally objected to such a murky operationalisation of the Fort Rixon Lithium mining EPOs.
“Despite all the shortfalls by your office I mentioned in this letter I remain committed to saving my country in my best capabilities and respecting the Office of the President and Cabinet of Zimbabwe. When the late Chief Maduna raised his concern and reservations on the issuance of mining EPOs across Matabeleland to your office, he was trailed by a number of unregistered vehicles and intimidate by unknown individuals thus the response he got from his letter to you until he died, I pray that with contents of this letter I won’t face the same fate as Chief Maduna,” he said.
The letter was also copied to the Commander of the ZDF, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and Matabeleland South Provincial Chiefs Council.