THE Lands and Agriculture ministry has accused the Mines ministry of clandestinely awarding a private company a licence to mine quarry at a farm owned by the latter, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
The complaint was raised in a letter written by John Basera, the permanent secretary in the Lands and Agriculture ministry, to the ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
In papers seen by this publication, the former Provincial Mining Director (PMD) for Mashonaland East, Grace Chacha together with Mines secretary Onesimo Moyo, are said to have granted Steel Trix Manufacturing company mining rights at a farm in Domboshava owned by the Lands ministry under suspiciously corrupt circumstances.
The Mines ministry is accused of awarding Steel Trix Manufacturing to undertake mining operations on a piece of land specifically meant for agricultural activities without following due processes.
“I have noted with great concern that the mining activities taking place are not in conformity with the nature of agricultural activities carried out at the farm,” read part of a letter that was addressed to Moyo in January 2020.
The farm is managed and administered by the Department of Agricultural Mechanisation through the Institute of Agricultural Engineering.
Steel Trix, together with Chacha are, however, said to have connived with a land officer, one AC Tomondo, from another department in the Lands ministry to corruptly acquire the mining licence.
“The officer works in a department that has nothing to do with operations at the farm in question. His actions were ultra vires his mandate.
“Connivance and corruption cannot be ruled out,” Basera said.
According to the Lands ministry, the granting of mining rights to the company could result in pollution and siltation of the dams, hence affecting livestock production and dairy projects that are taking place in the farm.
Basera also said mining activities on the farm were in violation of the agreements entered into between the Lands ministry and other institutions, and could result in the Lands ministry being sued for breach of contract.
Corruption issues around operations at the farm arose after another company, Point Step (PVT) Ltd, had initially applied to mine at the same location in 2015 but was denied the right, only for Steel Trix who applied in 2017 getting the right two years later.
“Chacha and the whole Mashonaland East office are corrupt. They got the blessing from the permanent secretary who (questionably) gave mining rights to that company.
“They knew that the application would be denied if they used proper channels, hence they bribed a lower official at the Lands ministry to go above his jurisdiction,” said an official from the Mines ministry.
“Prior to the granting of this mining licence, another mining company called Point Step Investments P/L had applied for a similar mining licence in 2017.
“The application was turned down because of the reasons cited above.
“Further engagements were then done between our ministry and yours in which we objected to the setting up of the mine on the farm.
“In my view, the same should have happened when Steel Trix Manufacturing (Pvt) Ltd approached your office,” further wrote Basera to the Mines ministry permanent secretary, Moyo.
The corruption case in Domboshava comes after Zim Morning Post reported that some officials in the Mines ministry were corruptly double allocating mining certificates in Mashonaland East and Midlands provinces and in the process causing disputes in these mining provinces.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to make any arrests in the Mines ministry although the former PMD, Chacha, has since been arraigned.