Farmer-miner conflicts: Farmers call for redress
Farmers have condemned the government for giving first preference to the mining sector at their expense, saying there is need for land rehabilitation programmes so that they can also utilise the land for farming purposes.
There have been a lot of miner-farmer conflicts in most communities as the two sectors clash over control and access to the land.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba in Bulawayo yesterday, farmers said mining is an unsustainable activity which causes a lot of environmental degradation.
They said miners just budge onto their land without consulting them and start prospecting for minerals.
Reda Mpofu, a farmer from Gwanda said a miner came to his farm by night and started digging without engaging him.
“I tried to look for the person so we could discuss working arrangements but couldn’t find him. He only resurfaced three days later with documentation of a mining claim,” said Mpofu.
“He demanded ownership of some of the structures on my property.”
Mpofu said his farm is constantly under invasion from miners and is left in a degraded state. He said he has lost up to 80 cattle over the years.
“At least if they could have the decency of covering the pits they dig. We have lost livestock and people have gotten hurt after falling into these uncovered pits,” he said.
Famers from Matobo said they were left homeless after the government forcefully removed them from their communal land and parceled it out to small scale miners.
A female farmer from Mutare said miners take advantage of them and invade their property without the decency of formalising their operations.
Norton MP Temba Mliswa urged the farmers to lobby the parliament to review such constitutional laws.
“Issues of environmental degradation resulting from mining must be addressed. In Norton, miners are digging under graves,” said Mliswa.
“Rights must not be partially beneficial. These are issues that people must raise in Parliament,”
“Artisanal miners are generating more money than large-scale farmers and this has prompted them to be a law unto themselves and such is breeding corruption.