Mining syndicate invades Matobo Hills again

A mining syndicate that was forcibly evicted from Domboshaba village in Matobo district by locals last year after they invaded a world heritage site to prospect for gold has been reportedly returned to the area and have resumed operations. 

The area falls within the Matobo Hills World Heritage Site and is protected under UNESCO. 

In mid-September last year, Mazinahue Syndicate armed with a prospecting license from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development moved into Domboshaba village to prospect for gold but were evicted by locals. 

The eviction of the syndicate caused trouble for the locals who were severely brutalized by anti-riot police forcing them to flee their homes and seek refuge in the mountains. 

An all stakeholder’s meeting was convened last year where it was made clear that they won’t be any mining operations taking place in the area.

However, sources in the area told CITE that the mining syndicate has returned to the area.

“The mining company arrived on Saturday accompanied by soldiers, they arrived in a truck and they have been asking villagers to collect water for them,” said a villager who spoke on condition of anonymity.  

“On Monday when some parents were accompanying children to school, the mining company’s employees were already digging up as they came with all their equipment and the soldiers have been threatening villagers passing by in that area that they are going to shoot anyone who is going to report their presence.” 

The source said villagers are now scared to alert the responsible authorities. 

“Last time the museum told us that no mining activities should take place as it is a heritage site but now villagers are even scared to go to report their presence as they fear being attacked.” 

Contacted for a comment, Chief Nyangazonke Ndiweni of Matobo district said he is not aware of the development. 

“I am not aware, I am in Harare at the moment,” said Chief Nyangazonke.  

Meanwhile, Matobo North Member of Parliament Edgar Moyo said he was also alerted that the miners had returned to the village.  

“I have just received a call from someone about an hour ago telling me also that those miners are back but I am in Harare now. We spoke about that issue and it was agreed that the area is a United Nations secured place under UNESCO as a world heritage site therefore it cannot be disturbed,” said Moyo. 

“Secondly there was no environmental impact assessment that accompanied their application. Thirdly, the community was livid they cannot have mining activity amongst them as that is going to disturb a lot of things, their animals, their children, the community and everything else. So that thing was seriously objected to.” 

He added, “As leadership, we said no to that kind of thing and that they are now back I am surprised. Even the council said no, the District Administrator said No. 

“I spoke to the Ministry of mines and we agreed that the mining thing must not go on, so I am surprised to what is happening because when I spoke to senior guys I can’t remember their names from the Ministry of mines, they indicated that those people were just given a prospecting license which was subject to consent with different departments when they have identified the area,” Moyo said. 

“I have asked the sources to do certain things to confirm their presence before I move the matter further because at times when you do not have evidence about certain things people can come back and say we do not know anything about that.

“We very much object to that kind of thing. After that community meeting that was held last year, we also had discussions after that meeting with different stakeholders and the consensus was that no mining activity must go on in that area,” said MP Moyo.   

Meanwhile, the Matabeleland South Mining director Khumbulani Mlangeni said, “we are not sure” when asked for a comment. 

Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) also condemned the move vowing to block the miners from carrying out any mining activities. 

“We condemn such acts of intimidation of locals in the strongest terms and we will do everything in our power to help the locals and to stop this nonsense. MRP is a party that is here to defend, protect and promote our people and our resources, we will not accept that,” said an official from the party.

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