Mutoko community at loggerheads with mining firm

HARARE - A group of community members from Mutoko North district were on Thursday arrested after staging a peaceful demonstration against Natural Stone Export Company, a business concern which extracts granite from the area.

Among some of the 50 people arrested were headmen and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) communications director Darlington Muyambwa.

The demonstration was meant to bring the directors of the company one of whom is Mashonaland East minister of State, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa’s attention to the plight of the community.

When the Daily News spoke to some of the community members, they cited inequitable distribution of benefits from the black granite being mined in their area.

“We are not against the mining of the rock but all we want is to also benefit from the proceeds since we are the indigenous people in the area.
“We want them to help develop Mutoko North, while also providing jobs for the youth,” Wirimai Zvina said.

An elder in the area, Nyaradzai Karumazondo said since 1972, Natural Stone has been exporting the precious rock to Italy and other European countries  but there had been no meaningful development in the area.

Karumazondo who is a former employee of the company said the youth were mostly affected as they were ignored when seeking employment.

He said they want the company to participate in corporate social responsibility given the negative environmental, social and economic effects on the community.

Kowo Clinic board committee member, Mary Kananga said they were repeatedly promised that boreholes would be drilled but nothing has materialised as yet.

She said they were told to buy casings for boreholes but when the time came to implement the project, the company did not make good on its promises.

“Like any other mining company that we know, the company should have its own clinic or hospital to cater for medical emergencies but Natural Stone does not have one,” she said adding “Instead they bring their injured employees here yet they cannot even buy an ambulance for the community.”

In a statement, Zela expressed concern with the arrest saying it was a sign that the State was in connivance with mining companies.

“The State was quick to protect the interests of mining companies that have been trampling upon the environmental, economic, social and cultural rights of communities in the natural resources sector,” Zela said.

A youth forum employment conference which was held in Harare on Friday saw youths from Mutoko expressing concern that they were not benefiting from the natural resources in their area.

“We are living in a society of two faces — one of privilege and the other of poverty. It is high time we start holding our leaders accountable, start questioning them on how we can get jobs because we are not benefitting from our local resources,” he said.

There are more than 30 mining companies in the area that export black granite for use in manufacturing floor tiles, kitchen tops, tombstones and decorating high rise buildings.

Comments (3)

Corporate social responsibility? i do not think this term exist in NSEC's vocabulary.The roads are in a sorry state.God help us!

joker - 8 July 2014

surely these companies need to do something because they are exporting our natural resources from makochera. the roads are poor they employ people from other areas ignoring vana vemo. no clean, no clinic since 1972 vanga varikuitei makore ose aya please we need development in our area which shows that we have natural resource that is being exploted from our area.

Mhanduwe - 8 July 2014

I am happy with this kind of move, which I was always questioning myself of the land degradation caused by these granite mining companies.The beautiful mountainous piece of Mutokoland is no longer habitable,Peaople are always on hospital beds suffering from the deadly Malaria perpetuated by the deep holes that keeps water all year round ,hosting Mosquitoes.Stream are meandering all the directions from temporally roads created just to access their GOLDEN granite .our livestocks are perishing in these pools and holes formed by them.I can not finish to list the negative impact to our land caused by these mining companies . May those "with horns" put their heads together and resuscitate the diminishing land of Buja and its contents.

Dickson Nyamushure - 8 September 2014

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