Zanu PF councillor takes mining company to court

A Zanu PF councillor in Seke in Mashonaland East has taken a granite mining company to court for pegging land and carrying out exploration activities without permission from the local community and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

This was disclosed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who are representing the Zanu PF councillor  Blessing Munemo for Ward 1 in Mayambara, Seke who wants Matscandnavia, trading as Seven Stars Mine to halt their unsanctioned exploration activities on villagers’ land.

This recent case comes on the backdrop of mining operations, particularly by foreign owned ones that have continued to defy environmental regulations and rights of local communities.

Although mining has been highlighted as a vital industry for achieving Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) objectives, the impact of some mining operations has become a source of concern.

According to ZLHR, councillor Munemo wants the court to order Matscandnavia to stop prospecting, exploring, and mining in four villages, Savanhu, Mhonda, Mhundwa, and Charigwati, in Mayambira, Seke, Mashonaland East Province, without following due process and the law. 

The mining company, however, alleged the councillor’s conduct is negatively affecting their mining project and the community’s interests in a letter of complaint written to the Manyame Rural District Council.

“Councillor Munemo, who lives in Savanhu village, where he was born in 1984 and which is also his ancestral home, recently engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Kelvin Kabaya of ZLHR, who on 10 April, 2024 filed an application at Marondera Magistrates Court,” said ZLHR in a statement.

The court order sought to compel Matscandnavia to remove some pegs, which the mining company installed in some villagers’ land within 24 hours of the granting of the order sought by the community leader.

“In the event that the mining company fails to comply with the order to remove the pegs, Councillor Munemo wants the court to authorise the Messenger of Court to pluck them off the villagers’ land,” said ZLHR.

The human rights lawyers said Councillor Munemo told the court that sometime in 2023, some employees or agents of Matscandnavia descended on Savanhu, Mhonda, Mhundwa and Charigwati villages, where they pegged the area for quarry mining purposes.

“The majority of the pegs were mounted in Savanhu village, which has a huge expanse and deposits of granite,” said ZLHR.

In his court application, Councillor Munemo, also cited EMA and the Mines and Mining Development Minister Soda Zhemu as respondents alongside Matscandnavia.

“In the application, the councillor protested that he was never consulted on the proposed quarry mining activities and he never consented to the same. (Munemo) stated that he resorted to taking legal action against Matscandnavia after the mining company ignored his letter, which was written on his behalf by Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya on 11 March 2024,” said ZLHR.

Munemo’s letter is requesting the mining company to stop its quarry mining activities and remove its pegs because it had not complied with the provisions of the law such as acquiring an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate. 

“In his application, Councillor Munemo argued that in terms of the provisions of Section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, mineral prospecting, which includes pegging, cannot be conducted unless EMA has issued a certificate approving the same,” said ZLHR. 

The councillor also protested that Matscandnavia had pegged the villagers’ land without the written consent and approval of Manyame Rural District Council under which the four villages fall.

“Councillor Munemo stated that in terms of the provisions of Section 73 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, he has a right to a safe and healthy environment, which is not detrimental to his health,” ZLHR said.

“Councillor Munemo also has a right to have the environment to be protected for the benefit of present and future generations through measures which make sure there ecologically 

sustainable use of natural resources.”

The councillor noted that villagers from these four villages were going to lose their grazing pastures, farming land, some sacred traditional and cultural shrines to Matscandnavia operations.

“He said allowing Matscandnavia to conduct granite mining operations without any environmental impact assessment having been done and approved by EMA, would effectively mean that several dwellers in the four villages would be staying in the midst of a mining location and would be exposed to unmitigated and unassessed environmental hazards,” ZLHR said.

In response to Councillor Munemo’s application, the mining company through its lawyers Zvavanoda Law Chambers wrote a letter of complaint on March 20, 2024 to Manyame Rural District Council alleging that the councillor’s conduct was adversely affecting its quarry mining project and the community’s interests.

According to ZLHR, the councillor denies this allegation.

The hearing of this application was heard on April 19, 2024 at Marondera Magistrates Court and was postponed to May 2, 2024.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button