By Nokuthaba Dlamini
The Hwange Local Board (HLB) working with Zanu-PF Hwange district chapter, has resolved to avail land for clay brick moulders.
This comes after the local authority launched a blitz on clay poachers who have reportedly caused serious environmental damage in the mining town.
The operation code-named “thunder ball” was launched last Monday and it will run until October 11.
The operation is being headed by the Criminal Investigations Department with other committee members being the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Environmental Management Agency, Forestry Commission, Department of Immigration, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Hwange Rural District Council and HLB.
Zanu-PF Hwange district chairperson Patrick Utete said while the operation is ongoing the party and other stakeholders in the community have resolved to identify land for the artisans.
Of late, the coal-mining town has been invaded by clay soil poachers, illegally extracting soil for brick moulding purposes leading to land degradation.
“We want to avoid a situation where anyone who thinks of venturing into that field can just do it anywhere, anytime.”
Clay poaching activities have persisted mainly due to the ever-increasing housing projects being carried out in Hwange, Dete and Victoria Falls and has resulted in massive deforestation and proliferation of open pits.
Utete, however, said for one to qualify will have to be registered under the Standard Association of Zimbabwe.
“We want things that are systematic, legal and orderly,” he said.
“We will vet those people on that basis and they should also have trading licences to ensure that their bricks are certified under SAZ. We understand that they make a living through selling clay bricks and there are so many benefits, but they need to conform, so they should wait until October 30.”
The pits are becoming a danger to both human beings and animals with their existence being more hazardous during the rainy season, Utete said.
The local authority said the clay soil poachers were using sewer water from the defunct Empumalanga sewer plant that finds its way to the nearby Kalope stream.
However, Ward 9 councillor Fani Chirwa urged the stakeholders to avail land for brick moulders where there is availability of clay and water.
“We don’t want a situation where we hear that these people were migrated to an area where that clay is not even available,” Chirwa responded to Utete.
“We want our communities to be given a fair treatment and share of resources, right now there is a man who moulds bricks in Fairmile drive and he was not affected by this blitz. Where he is there is so much clay and he has resources so we would want to see these people being given the same areas not being put where that clay is not even available.”