Displaced villagers living rough

HARARE - Villagers re-located to a sprawling farm complex in Zvishavane to make way for a platinum mine have said their living conditions are appalling.

Scores of families were moved in 2002 from a village adjacent to the Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) Zimbabwe unit’s Unki Mine field in Shurugwi to Zvishavane, a farm settlement about 70km to the south with promises of a better life.

But 15 years later, the villagers say they have yet to see the promised education and health facilities while their homes are crumbling and food is scarce.

Unki is the smallest of three platinum mines in Zimbabwe — the largest mineral export in Zimbabwe last year. The country holds the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum which can be used in catalytic convertors or for making jewellery.

A United Nations, Oxfam and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association report details how the families were relocated from their spacious homesteads by Unki Mine to Reitfontein village in Zvishavane in 2002.

“When they arrived, there was nothing but a few sheets of corrugated iron to sleep under for the first six months. The shelter is now what they use for chickens,” the report said.

“The families are living in brick houses constructed by the mine, but the quality is so poor that they are cracking all over. Adequate toilets were never built for them.”

The families also raised concern of being far away from medical facilities, and also having to cross a bridge that is impassable when it rains.

“Locals tried to pass it in the week we were there and a body was found downstream a week later,” the report said.

An affected resident, Sukholuhle Mabhunu, said the mine had promised the community “all sorts of things, including employment” but “hardly any of these promises have been kept”.

Mabhunu narrated how she gave birth at home as medical facilities are far away.

“I gave birth at home but it was not by choice,” she explained.

“It is because things were really difficult for us then. For one to raise money for transport to Shurugwi hospital, where you have to go and stay as you approach your delivery date, it was not easy. So, it was not by choice.”

She also raised concern over the arid land to which they were relocated.

“There are positives, first they constructed this road and then they built us a school and there is also a hospital that is under construction as we speak. So these are some of the positives that we got from the relocation by the Unki Mine.

“The new hospital is about 5km away and will be ready in April.

“There is not much that has changed so far since our relocation. Our biggest challenge is that Unki reneged on its promise to provide employment

“Unki said they would take care of us after relocation. Provide food for us and take care of our welfare. But that never happened. It was only once that they took care of us.

“We were given about 25kg of maize seed and 50kgof fertilizers, which is only enough for the first year. After that there was nothing. So they broke their promises.”

Efforts to obtain comment from Unki were futile.

Comments (1)

This is a lie, Unki has built nice houses for villagers displaced by the mines foot print at village 17

batanai - 19 April 2017

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.