MPs grill Kasukuwere over Chinese conduct

HARARE - Legislators last week grilled Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere over land degradation caused by Chinese mining companies.

According to the legislators, the Chinese conduct has created conflict in Karoi where they are extracting sand from Badze River.

Zanu PF proportional representation legislator Goodluck Kwaramba was the first to take the minister — who was standing in for his Environment colleague Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri — to task, as he questioned him on what the government is doing to resolve the conflict.

“What measures is the government taking to resolve the conflict between Karoi communities and a Chinese contractor. What legal provisions are being used by the Chinese contractor in those operations given the fact that the Mines and Minerals Act only allows the mining operations on a joint venture agreement with government?” he queried.

In response, Kasukuwere acknowledged the Chinese company is operating outside the provision of the laws.

“It is disheartening to note that the Chinese contractor is operating outside the provisions of the national laws.  In this case, the contractor has been issued with an environmental protection order in terms of Section 37 (4) (b) of the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 20:27,” he said, adding that “the order directed the contractor to cease operations and abide by the provisions of the law meant to avoid land degradation, siltation and conflict with the locals by consulting and involving them on the work at hand”.

“The inclusion of locals is a key facet in sustainability of any project,” Kasukuwere said.

However, more legislators weighed into the argument, with the Norton representative complaining about the Chinese conduct.

“When the Chinese do their mining, they do not rehabilitate the environment.  There will be dams and pits and people lose their livestock and even children lose lives.  I have seen that in my Ward 13 that the Chinese have destroyed this country,” Mliswa fumed.

“Where is the Environmental Management Authority (Ema) and what is government policy on this issue? There is need for whoever who excavates to fill the hole after doing their mining” he added.

MDC proportional representative MP Thokozani Khupe also questioned the ministry on what action they are taking to make sure that the Chinese plough back to the communities they operate from.

“What is your ministry doing to make sure that social corporate responsibility is adhered to?  If you look at this Chinese company in question, it is extracting sand, causing environmental degradation and siltation which is a big disadvantage to the communities.  What is your ministry doing to ensure that this particular company ploughs back to the communities so that they benefit from their sand which is being taken by this company?” she asked Kasukuwere.

Kasukuwere also responded saying they are going to look into those issues.

“There is the issue of the pits that are left uncovered.  Ema should ensure that they look into such issues.  The issue is going to be under consideration in the Mines and Mining Amendment Bill where a fund is going to be set up to ensure that after they will have completed their mining, the fund will be able to rehabilitate the environment.

“Government agreed that we should have such a fund called the Environmental Reclamation Fund which will be controlled by the ministry of Mines.

“In terms of our empowerment laws, in terms of the community trust and where possible, I think the ministry of Mines has also been encouraging communities alongside the partners, who are in this case the companies, to have a mutually beneficial relationship that should see the communities benefiting from their resources.”

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