Call to suspend mining activities in Penhalonga

(Last Updated On: January 19, 2023)

SYDNEY SAIZE IN MUTARE

 

Government should stop hazardous surface mining activities in Penhalonga district in Mutasa South, civil society organisations have said.

The call comes at a time when there is rampant water and air pollution, land degradation, increased crime rate and early child marriages, in the area.

It is understood that communities are having sleepless nights as marauding bands of illegal gold panners wreak havoc.

Addressing the media last week,Simbarashe Mbwando of the Zivai Community Empowerment Trust, implored the government to “balance business and human rights” and ensure that “the mining activities are backed by a water tight governance framework that upholds development and human rights”.

Mwando recommended that the central government should expedite legal reforms affecting local government such as devolution bills and the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill to ensure that local authorities have autonomy over the governance of resources found in their provinces.

The community based organisation and other strong advocates for environmental human rights such as the Centre for Research Development (CRD) have called for the suspension of all operations until there is adherence to the law.

James Mupfumi, of the CRD said they had observed that mining and processing of gold and surrounding sites have mushroomed and continue to violate Section 73 of the Constitution on the rights of citizens to environmental protection.

“We also have realised that there are some porous gold exit points that need to be addressed,” Mupfumi said.

CRD and other cooperating working organisations said the porous mining activities were in violation of the objectives of the Vision 2030 on mining which put emphasis on sustainable mining by stakeholders through a well governed, mining sector which is ethically inclusive, environmentally friendly, socially responsible and appropriate National Development Strategy operations.

Mupfumi said the NDS1 precisely puts priority on environmental and climate change protection, sustainable natural resource utilisation, public service delivery, devolution, good governance and inclusive economic growth.

Clinton Tapiwa Masanga, the director of Penhalonga Youth Development Trust said mining operations at the Redwing Mine had seen the extraction of gold ore by illegal panners and supposedly registered firms going on despite an order from the Environment Management Agency (EMA) to suspend mining operations because operations have continued to violate provisions of section (37 (4) of the EMA ACT and that mining shafts at Redwing are not up to expected standards of the Ministry of Mines.

Weston Makoni the chairperson of the Penhalonga Residents and Ratepayers Trust bemoaned the upsurge of crime, child marriages, school drop outs, drug abuse, air pollution and pollution of water bodies as a result of the rampant extraction of the alluvial soils in the area around Penhalonga.

Makoni said cases early-child marriages had shot up as well as criminal cases which include robberies and rape cases.

“We have seen an increase in criminal cases. The community feels unsafe. We need protection, but it seems there could be some people that are benefitting from the status quo. We are hopeless now, we want the authorities to intervene.”

The Penhalonga area has had a lot of disputes with various mining companies laying claim on mining rights which has resulted in environmental degradation and human rights abuses.

An estimated 100 illegal gold diggers have died in Penhalonga after underground gold mine shafts collapsed under them in the past few months.

 

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