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Mutare City leases entire mountain to Chinese for a paltry $629/month

Mutare City leases entire mountain to Chinese for a paltry $629/month

Paltry

Mutare City Council is under fire for leasing an entire mountain to a Chinese quarry miner for a paltry amount of US$7 500 per annum. 

According to the lease agreement, the local authority, and the miner, Freestone Mines agreed on a deal to extract quarry in the Dangamvura Mountain for a fee of just US$629 per month. 

Residents are now up in arms with the city authorities who granted the permission to mine within a highly-populated area, without the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certification. 

Residents want the council to relocate Freestone Mines quarry to a new site that is far from the sprouting Dangamvura high-density suburb. 

As per the 10-year lease agreement, Mutare leased its 6,5-hectare stand situated at deforested Dangamvura mountain to Freestone Mines so that it can establish its stone quarry mine. 

The lesser will be exempted from paying rentals to the border town authority during the first eight months of the lease agreement. 

“The lessee shall pay to the lessor an annual rental of US$7557 for the use of the site. As an exemption inceptive, the lessee will be exempted from paying rentals during the first eight months of the duration of the lease agreement,” the lease agreement reads in part. 

Freestone Mines shall not be entitled to compensation for any leasehold improvements including fixed assets, roads, electricity, water and sewer developments. 

Mutare City may constantly review lease rentals after the first eight months of agreement and changes will be communicated to the lessee through a one month written notice. 

“Should there be any need for relocation of sites due to developments by the lesser of the property, the lessor is to give two months written notice to the lessee and both parties are to meet the costs of relocation,” the lease agreement further reads. 

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It is believed the Chinese company has already paid the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Manicaland in advance for electricity to be connected at the quarry site. 

“ZESA was paid a lot of money so that the Chinese miner gets connected to the grid. Even the workers who were conducting the connections of the quarry to the main grid had a big bonanza,” a source said. 

In a statement yesterday, a local youth rights group, Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA) condemned Freestone Mines for running afoul with the county’s constitutional obligations by ignoring the EIA process. 

“This attitude casts in very bad light the image of our Chinese friends who of late have been receiving the hard end of the stick for undermining local communities in Mutoko, Dinde (Hwange), Goromonzi, Uzumba and Manhize in Chivu. It is this extractivism mentality that must be exorcised from these investors. We are worried by the seemingly business as usual demeanour displayed by our institutions especially EMA and Mutare City Council who stood akimbo while Freestone freely carved open Dangamvura mountain,” MAYA said.

New Zimbabwe 

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