- September 7, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
The environmental watchdog, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Society (ZELA) has filed an urgent chamber application to stop two Chinese mining firms Zimbabwe Zhongxin Mining group and Tongmao Coal Mining’s mining activities in Hwange National Park.
The companies were awarded in terms of The Mines and Minerals Act, Special Grants (SGs) by the president of Zimbabwe for coal mining and exploration, Section 301 of the act states that the President has the powers to Approve or Reject an Application for Coal Mining in Zimbabwe
The Chamber Application which was filed by Human Rights Officer at Amnesty International Zimbabwe Fidelis Chima and ZELA against Zimbabwe Zhongxin Mining Group, Tongmao Coal Mining, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), Minister of Mines and Mining Development (Winston Chitando) and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has received support from environmentalist and individuals who claimed that the presence of the Chinese in the wildlife zone was suicidal for tourism development and growth.
According to environmentalists, the National Parks were a no-go area for mining as these would frustrate the potential of the tourism sector becoming a multibillion-dollar industry in Zimbabwe as mining within the National Park poses an acute risk of irreversible ecological degradation.
Urgent chamber support
Former Minister of Education in Zimbabwe David Coltart has supported the decision by ZELA and Chima to fight against the Hwange National Park Special Grants issued to the two Chinese miners as the mining activities in the area will only benefit a small group of elites for a short period of time whereas the tourism sector will be there for millions of years to come.
“I totally support this application against the government & the mining company which are jointly planning to devastate Hwange National Park. This mining will only benefit a small elite for a short amount of time, whereas protecting our national parks is for all our grandchildren” David Coltart said.
Renowned Journalist Brezh Malaba through his twitter handle said the decision to take the companies to court was important as villagers were the ones suffering when the government was turning a blind eye.
“I’m delighted to hear that Hwange villagers are finally taking legal action against those who are polluting Deka River, a tributary of the Zambezi. The govt is complicit for turning a blind eye to the mining cartels while villagers’ teeth rot and livestock perishes.” Malaba said.
The debates on the SGs
Small Scale and Artisanal miners through their body Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) have supported the decision by the government to grant the two Chinese firms permit to operate in the Hwange National Park as the park was rich in mineral resources that needed to be tapped.
According to some ZMF members, the companies’ coal mining is important for power generation which will power the entire economy especially the mining sector which has to achieve the US$12 billion target by 2023.
It is a fact that the country has been losing over US$300 million monthly importing power therefore it is of importance for the country to get its priorities right as it seeks to achieve the targets set by the President to turn this economy into an upper-middle economy by 2030.
Mining and tourism are of equal importance in making sure that the country achieves the president’s vision by 2030, the government need to set aside its desperation for power and plan for the long-term economic benefits.
However, it should be noted that Zimbabwe lost over US$1 BILLION last year due to power shortages, the government can therefore find a way to make sure that energy production is increased at the same time preserving National Parks from the dangers of animal exhaustion.
Questions have been asked whether the Chinese would allow any nation to dig diamonds on the foot of the great wall if there are discovered there.
Zimbabweans have expressed concern over foreign countries’ support in blasting the SGs granted to the two Chinese firms.
According to Former ZMF Deputy President, Engineer Chris Murove, Non-Governmental Organisations funded by European countries are at the forefront in trying to discredit the president’s decision because Europeans are the ones who directly benefit from the country’s tourism sector.
“An NGO which is supported by funding from EU countries is now fighting for the elephants and other animals in Hwange. Zimbabwe cannot derive any benefits from the sustainable or harvesting of ivory or even meat from these elephants due to CITES bans.
“When Zimbabwe attempts to export live animals to willing countries like China, another outcry emanates from these Europeans and their sycophants and why, because they want to be the ones benefiting all the time.
“Forget about tourism, what gets spent here in Zimbabwe is peanuts compared to what these lodges and those in the game trophy hunting get paid outside the country which never gets repatriated to Zimbabwe. So no wonder a sovereign decision to mine in Hwange has been taken and that should be respected and supported by those who are true miners.” Engineer Murove said.