CHUNDU– It is almost two years after villagers under headman Rodrick Dzebonde were muzzled into silence over a mining project by a Chinese mine facilitated by Ndafunga Trading.
According to headman Dzebonde and other villagers here, the mine project was meant for Rose Quartz mineral that was under a cloud of secrecy, traditional bullying by Chief Abel Mbasera Chundu, Senator and local councillor Tavengwa Muringanisi of Hurungwe Rural District Council Ward 8 under which the area falls.
“As villagers we didn’t welcome the mining project in our community as it was being done in people’s fields.
“ As you understand our small village hectarage can’t sustain any mining project at all costs.
“ Some villagers thought it was a good initiative but we are counting on losses of land degradation without any recourse,” complained Dzebonde.
He is among several villagers in Kabidza rural, situated about 65 kilometres north-west of Karoi who remain divided over Chinese operations in some villages as mining ventures that is now rampant around Hurungwe North constituency where Chundu is located.
Villagers under headman Dzebonde are witnesses of evidence that nail Environment Management Agency when they issue Environment Impact Assessment certificates to miners around Zimbabwe mineral rich outlying areas like Chundu.
“The failure to rehabilitate the environment by Chinese mine ventures here is becoming a big elephant in the house as EMA has not be acting to protect environment,” added another villager Thomas Murenga.
The mine venture that was subject to controversy saw Chinese packing their equipment after failing to get what they had prospected.
“Chinese had their equipment around but after few months, they were not happy over the quality of minerals they got.
“ In a huff, they left the environment scare that we are now witnessing but we can’t enforce them to rehabilitate what they damaged around here,” added Dzebonde.
For many villagers in Hurungwe, a lot of damage has been done with consulting companies like Ndafunga Trading claiming ‘manna from Heaven’ to villagers.
“They sweet tongued villagers that these Chinese will develop the area but nothing has been done and EMA is not playing its role to protect the environment at all,’ complained another villager, Martin Madara.
Local councillor Muringanisi defended Chinese approach in the ward.
“We carry out consultations on investment prospects and if anything goes against that it is not our fault at all. In this case Chief Chundu is aware of everything being done around so we can’t stop it at all,’ he said.
However, investigations made have revealed that as much as district and provincial EMA officials have ‘noted’ objections from some villagers, their action is overridden by top officials.
“We are concerned that Chinese are now regarded as first-class citizens over mining rights where consultants are milking them thousands of US dollars. Once they fail to get anything, they will move from one area to the other without rehabilitating the destroyed areas. It’s a pity that this has been allowed to go on unchecked,” complained an official who refused to be named for professional reasons.
Charles Mukanga of Ndafunga Trading refused to comment .
He only said, ‘I am sorry, I don’t speak to media on our operations with partners’
EMA Mashonaland West provincial publicity and education officer Munyaradzi Nhariswa said he wanted time to investigate the issues before giving a comment.
But headman Dzebonde is bitter over the way they have witnessed destruction around the villages here.
“Chinese use heavy equipment destroying everything around. Without rehabilitating the deep gullies, they are getting away with murder and our policymakers think it is investment,’ concluded Madara.
Until something is done to stop Chinese mining operations’ causing environment degradation,villagers under Chief Chundu will always suffer in silence here.