Villagers demand the restoration of their land from Chinese miner

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Villagers from Kanyandura village in Mudzi District are up in arms with Zim Win Mining Company (Pvt) Ltd for digging dangerous trenches in their area during the Chinese firm’s unlawful mineral exploration activities.

Through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), villagers are demanding the filling of all trenches and the restoration of the land to its original state.

Initially, the miner assured villagers its proposed activities were going to be carried out in compliance with all relevant statutes governing the business operation and in the interest of the health and safety of workers and community.

The company had also promised full compensation for any losses incurred by the community as a result of its operations.

Villagers turned down a bid by Zim Win Mining Private Limited to secure their endorsement of the project through signing of consent forms.

The company still went on to excavate a portion of land in the village, leaving a deep trench that is potentially harmful to people and livestock.

This was in direct breach of section 31 of the Mines and Minerals Act.

ZLHR’s Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Kelvin Kabaya have since demanded reclaiming of the trench.

The lawyers said the company’s consent forms are vague and lack particularity as to the consequences of such mining operations on villagers’ livelihoods, farming activities, environmental impact and the exact nature of compensation for the negative effects of the controversial venture.

The lawyers have also engaged the mines ministry and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) over the miner’s unlawful activities.

In a letter written to the Provincial Mining Director for Mashonaland East province and to EMA, lawyers complained that Zim Win Mining Private Limited had pegged a substantial portion of the villagers’ land without consulting them.

The pegged land, lawyers said, covers villagers’ principal homesteads, farming and grazing land.

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They also complained that Zim Win Mining Private Limited had, through its agents, been exerting undue influence on the villagers to sign consent forms to allow the company to carry out mining operations on their land.

The lawyers asked the Provincial Mining Director to furnish them with a copy of the prospecting licence granted to Zim Win Mining Private Limited, if any was granted.

Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya charged that in the event that a prospecting licence was granted to the company, the pegging of Kanyandura village was unlawful because “according to the provisions of section 31(1) of the Mines and Minerals Act, a holder of a prospecting licence must not exercise any of the rights conferred in terms of the prospecting licence on communal land without the consent of the occupier”.

In addition, the human rights lawyers said the provisions of “section 31(1)(h) of the Mines and Minerals Act, states that no holder of a prospecting licence can proceed to peg communal land occupied as a village without the written consent of the Rural District Council of the area concerned”.

Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya also enquired if any Environment Impact Assessment had been conducted in relation to the mining project.

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