The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has intervened to protect some villagers in Kaseke Village, Uzumba, in Mashonaland East province, who are at the risk of losing their homesteads, farming fields and grazing land to Heijin Mining Company.
In a Facebook note, the ZLHR said their lawyer, Tinashe Chinopfukutwa, wrote a letter last week to the mining mommissioner for Mashonaland East province and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) seeking explanations regarding the existence of a prospecting licence authorising the miner to peg the village so as to conduct mining activities.
Chinopfukutwa said in the event that a prospecting licence was granted to Heijin Mining Company, then the pegging of Kaseke Village is unlawful as a holder of a prospecting licence shall not exercise any of the rights conferred in terms of the prospecting licence on communal land without the consent of the occupier.
The human rights lawyer stated that the pegging of Kaseke Village without consultation and the consent of the occupiers of the land “is unlawful and that in terms of Section 31(1)(h) of the Mines and Minerals Act, no holder of a prospecting licence can proceed to peg communal land occupied as a village without the written consent of the Rural District Council of the area concerned.”
Chinopfukutwa has asked if any Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted in relation to the mining project and if so to be furnished with a copy of the certificate approving the prospecting and pegging of Kaseke Village by Heijin Mining Company.
EMA spokesperson, Amkela Sidange, said they have not yet issued a clearance letter to the Chinese company.
Sidange promised to call EMA officers to find out if the mining company has started its operations in the area.
Human rights lawyer, Dewa Mavhinga, said Zimbabwe should stop such operations, which were displacing hundreds of people from their original homes.
“Local people are being forced, intimidated and their rights are violated to allow Chinese companies to engage in mining and to access various Zimbabwean minerals. This should stop. We expect the Zimbabwean government to promote the interests of local people.”
The Chinese miners are looking at extracting granite from the area where over 39 families may lose their homesteads located on traditional lands with sacred places and graves of former freedom fighters.
Rutendo Mawere contributed to this article