Miner, ministers clash over mine ban

HARARE - Two Cabinet ministers yesterday clashed with a Goromonzi-based gold miner who is refusing to comply with an order to halt destructive mining operations along a river course.

The drama occurred after deputy Environment minister Simon Musanhu and minister of State for Mashonaland East Province Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, in the company of other government officials, tried to halt Ayerum Mine operations.

The operation is owned by Aaron Mupandawana and he is accused of committing gross environmental crimes. Mupandawana vehemently denied the allegations levelled against him, accusing Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) Nyagui sub-catchment chairperson Wellington Nkatazo of masterminding the “false claims.”

However, Musanhu stuck to his guns, and said police would be roped in to effect the ban.

“We have involved police and ordered them to open a docket so that they take the necessary action to enforce the law,”  Musanhu said.

Mudarikwa said: “This is abuse of the license. If you get a driver’s license it does not mean you go around running over people.”

Musanhu said the community and local legislator had lodged complaints over the issue.

“We have received quite a number of complaints from farmers around the area and the resident MP that there was river mining taking place against our order,” he said.

“We had to take action. The operators here had been issued with a works stop order three months ago. But they simply refused to comply, sign or pay the fine and carried on with operations.”

Ayerum Mine was slapped with a $1 000 fine by Environment Management Agency (Ema) and the order to stop riverbank and wetland mining this April, but the company is yet to pay the fine.

Mupandawana argued that he had documents to support his activities and is also citing a vendetta with Nkatazo.

“They are telling me I should pay a fine, what for? I will not leave this place, tinotoridza ngoma pano (we are staying put),” said Mupandawana, who showed contempt for the senior government officials.

“I have mining certificates, Ema permit to mine here but now they are saying I cannot mine.  They said it should be 30 metres away, that is what I am doing,” he charged.

“I know the real issue is because Nkatazo wanted this mine. Listen to him explain, he is talking more about mining instead of water,” Mupandawana said.

He told the delegation he had applied for a well-permit and Nkatazo turned down the application, vowing the youthful miner will never obtain the license.

In his defence, Nkatazo said: “His mining is in the river course, so I turned down his application.”

Ema director general Mutsa Chasi said it is the organisation’s mandate to compel miners to adhere with  environmental laws.

Comments (1)

Vakuru vedu vakajaiirira kushandisa zvematongerwo enyika kwete kuremekedza zvido zvevanhu sezvovanotaura pagungano.

WATYOKA T . S. - 11 June 2014

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